Iran's so-called “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani defeated his “hard line” challenger, Ebrahim Raisi, winning a second term as Iran’s president with 57 percent of the vote. The turnout was approximately 70 percent. Rouhani claimed a mandate to pursue a "path of coexistence and interaction with the world." He said in his victory speech, "Today, Iran — prouder than ever — is ready to promote its relations with the world based on mutual respect and national interests." However, he added, in a message to “world powers,” that Iran "is not ready to accept humiliation and threat."
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad wasted no time in congratulating Rouhani. A leading proponent of appeasement to Iran in the Obama administration, Ben “Echo Chamber” Rhodes was not far behind. Rhodes was quick to tweet his praise of the results. “You can be a critic of Iranian regime and still think it's a good thing that Iranians vote for more pragmatic leadership,” he wrote.
The only pragmatic thing about Rouhani is how he managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Obama administration. He led the negotiations on the nuclear deal, which enriched the Iranian regime up front with billions of dollars in hard currency and sanctions relief in return for some temporary suspension of the nuclear enrichment portion of its nuclear arms program that it had already mastered. Iran is still able to focus its resources on perfecting two technological elements, in addition to enrichment, it needs to successfully deploy nuclear weapons – detonation and delivery with high explosives and ballistic missiles, respectively.
Iran has also continued, during Rouhani’s first term, to be the world’s foremost state sponsor of global terrorism. Its military forces have also continued to harass U.S. naval vessels and threatened to shoot down Navy surveillance aircraft as they flew over international waters.
Rouhani projects a “moderate” face to the world, while in reality he is little more than a front man for Iran’s theocratic dictatorship. Only by comparison to his opponent, Ebrahim Raisi, who helped implement the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, can Rouhani be considered a “moderate.”
Raisi lost the election to Rouhani, but the anti-West hard liners control all the levers of real power in Iran, starting with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose decisions on all matters of state are final. The unelected Guardian Council, run by clerics, approves all candidates for elective office, making sure that nobody who is out of step with the regime’s strict interpretation of Islamic doctrine is allowed to run for president. It rejected 1630 out of 1636 people who applied to run for president in 2017, “including all female and religious minorities,” according to Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi in an interview with the Center for Human Rights in Iran. The fact that Raisi qualified as one of only six finalists to compete in the presidential election speaks volumes.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps wields vast economic and paramilitary power within Iran and constitutes the vanguard of Iran’s export of terrorism abroad. Within the Revolutionary Guard are the Basij militia and the Quds Force. The Basij militia ruthlessly suppressed the “green revolution” that broke out in 2009 to protest what millions of Iranians considered to be the fraudulent re-election of then incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
During Rouhani’s first term as president, security and judicial institutions were dominated by hard liners. Human Rights Watch reported that the hard liners “continued to crackdown on citizens for the legitimate exercise of their rights, in blatant disregard of international and domestic legal standards.” Executions, torture and political imprisonments continued as business as usual. Women continued to face major discrimination in their daily lives. Religious minorities continued to be persecuted.
At the time of the green revolution, Rouhani stayed mostly in the background, but paid lip service to the right of individuals to protest. However, ten years before the green revolution, when the country was also beset by unrest, Rouhani had told a rally in Tehran, according to the Jomhuri-ye Eslami newspaper, “that those arrested for sabotage and destroying state property during the student unrest would face the death penalty if found guilty.”
During the 2017 presidential campaign, Rouhani posed as a reformer. He criticized hard liners for interfering in the election process, and even received the support of Green Movement leaders. Rouhani said, “We like the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia. All we are asking is to carry out the wishes of the imam (the leader of the 1979 revolution, Ruhollah Khomeini), who said that the military and security forces should not interfere in any political party or organization.”
Nevertheless, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which operates under Rouhani’s control, cracked down on peaceful activists and dissidents with increased arrests leading up to the May 2017 presidential election.
The Iranian people were lulled into thinking that their vote will have significant positive consequences in their daily lives. Their real rulers are unelected mullahs enforcing their strict interpretation of Sharia law, with the support of the equivalent of the Nazi SS.