London, 27 May - When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was re-elected for his second term, Western media was quick to portray him as a moderate. Again. This is how he was described during his first term.
However, the reality is much different. He was not a moderate during his first term because he was in office when there was an unprecedented amount of executions being carried out. And Iran’s involvement in conflicts in the Middle East was what earned the country the title of the main exporter of terrorism in the world.
Furthermore, the election process in the Islamic Republic is anything but democratic. For a start, the candidates are vetted by the Guardian Council that eliminates anyone that does not strictly adhere to the Supreme Leader’s vison of the Islamic Republic.
During his first term, Rouhani allowed more than 3,000 people to be executed and ensured that there was an increase in domestic oppression. Iran’s terrorist involvement across the region increased and it played a crucial role in propping up Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. In fact, without the assistance from Iran, the Syrian civil war would have ended a long time ago.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also carried out testing of ballistic missiles despite UN Security Council resolutions. Many US Navy vessels were also on the receiving end of intimidation acts by Iran.
As well as cracking down at home, many Iranian dual nationals were threatened, intimidated, arrested, tortured or imprisoned by Iranian authorities.
Although presidents normally have a substantial amount of power, in Iran the president is just a tool used by the Supreme Leader. A tool to enforce his objectives. Rouhani is essentially at the mercy of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Rouhani’s main rival in the election was Ebrahim Raisi – a cleric that had a particularly bloody involvement in the 1988 massacre in which more than 30,000 political prisoners were executed. So, the “selection” (rather than election) of Rouhani certainly makes it looks like the more moderate of candidates succeeded. However, for the future of the nuclear deal, it was essential that Rouhani got a second term.
However, one must look at the facts. Rouhani accommodates the IRGC and its different factions to carry out their interests – the spread of terrorism and its missile program.
Also, when the nuclear deal was being negotiated, Rouhani was ensuring that an exorbitant amount of frozen assets was released so that Iran could fund its extensive military demands. Instead of using the funds to better the social conditions in Iran, it was used to fund wars abroad.
Calling Rouhani a moderate gives him legitimacy.
The President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) warned that Iran will increase its belligerency. Rouhani recently confirmed that Iran will continue to warmonger in the region and confirmed that Iran has forces in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
The Iranian regime is in a very weak position because it knows that the people of Iran are starting to make their opposition heard. They know that Rouhani is not a moderate and they know that their future is bleak while he is in power.
Very soon there will be another uprising like the one in 2009. The regime is so fearful of this happening, but the international community needs to stand with the Iranian people in their calls for regime change.