The President elect for the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, has been dragged through the meat grinder throughout Western media, the same media outlets which seem to have missed that the West may have largely contributed to him being elected.
Ebrahim Raisi is labelled throughout Western corporate press and by the US government as a “hardliner”, whilst Iranian’s call him a loyalist. Raisi will, in August, replace the current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, who despite now being labelled as a “moderate” by the West, endured one of the most relentless regime change attempts through sanctions and other means by the United States and its allies.
One of the prominent foreign policy issues that the current US President, Joe Biden, ran his campaign on was the issue of re-entering/renegotiating the Iran Nuclear Deal. What should have been a diplomatic layup has proven to be a long dragged out process under which Iran’s civilian population – devastated by the effects of US government sanctions – sits helplessly. The United States has maintained its line that Iran must first return to compliance with a deal that the US unilaterally withdrew from in 2018 and that until then they refuse to relieve the sanctions.
As discussions continue on the matter, we have seen some minor sanctions relieved, yet Iran is not budging from its position that all sanctions must be lifted prior to them returning to compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under the more favorable (to the West) reformist camp (moderates) in Iran, the Nuclear Deal is at a greater chance of revival. However, it seems that when the new loyalist government, headed by Ebrahim Raisi, is sworn in later this year they will likely seek to take a tougher stance against the US, despite Raisi having publicly stated that he supports a fair re-entry to the JCPOA. That means that the next few months will be crucial to sealing the future of the Nuclear Deal. It is largely assumed that if the deal is not re-established by August, it will more than likely die, and Iran will turn even more to the East for economic stability.
What is more important, however, than speculating on the outcome of the Nuclear Deal negotiations, is focusing on the hypocrisy of Western governments and media outlets when covering this issue.
The focus of Western media outlets is now geared towards pointing out the track record of Ebrahim Raisi, who is currently Iran’s Chief Justice. The most noted issue they have with him is his involvement on the Tehran death commission in 1988, under which roughly 3,000 prisoners were sentenced to death. Most of those sentenced to death were members of the terrorist group known as the MEK or Mujahadin el-Khalq, which the Guardian newspaper described as a “resistance group”.
Now just looking at this case alone, when we hear that Raisi sent 3,000 resistance fighters and others to their death, it leaves out an awful lot of context. This is not to cast judgement and say that the executions were correct, but instead point out the one-sided biased nature of the subconsciously-Orientalist Western press.
The MEK, is a cult-like organisation which sided with Sadaam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and is viewed as a terrorist group by the majority of Iranians, even those who oppose the current system in the country. The group committed countless terrorist attacks against innocent civilians in Iran and across the globe, once being considered by most Western nations as a terrorist group, including the United States. So when this key context is included, as it was connected to the Iran-Iraq war, in which around 1 million people lost their lives, it’s easy to see why Iranians are still able to vote for a man involved in such a sentencing. It is kind of like similar sentences at the end of the second world war, emotions were high and extreme measures were taken as a result. This does not excuse any wrongdoings, but on the contrary, provides context to a very emotionally charged subject.
Another important thing to remember here is that if we were to do the exact same thing with the record of Joe Biden, pulling up – for example – his involvement in the slaughter of millions as a result of illegal US wars of aggression, then Ebrahim Raisi would begin to look like a real dove.
But let us for a moment work with the assumption that Ebrahim Raisi is the monster the West portrays him as; why is it that Iran just voted for a “hardliner” to lead the country and not another “moderate”?
Well, when Hassan Rouhani was elected, he did all within his power to gesture towards engaging with the West more and opening up Iran’s economy. However, after Rouhani’s government fought to secure the Nuclear Deal, against criticism from his opposition that dealings with the US government would lead to catastrophe, he was slapped in the face with the hardest sanctions regime ever implemented against the country. Far from achieving a closer working relationship with the West, the US Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal and applied its “maximum pressure” campaign. Iran’s economy sank and its people are still suffering right now due to the sanctions war, which is being upheld by the Biden administration.
Couple this together with the fact that the US assassinated Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in an illegal airstrike in January last year, and later Israel – which was also involved in the Soleimani assassination – assassinated Iran’s top scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, on Iranian soil.
The “moderates” have been repeatedly slapped in the face, and by extension, the Iranian people who put their hope in them to restore their economy. After the loyalist camp was proven right about the consequences of dealing with the US government, why would it be expected that Iranians would seek another President which looks to engage with the US. Iran extended an olive branch and the US government burnt that olive branch.
Now, there will likely be a more hardline stance against the US and a greater focus on combating Iran’s enemies throughout the region. This could mean that Iran’s allies will get more focus and as a result pose greater challenges to the US and its allies. However, this did not come singularly as a result of the Guardian Council picking candidates favorable to the Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei, as Western Media has put so much focus on.
If the West truly cared about getting closer to Iran, more so than its commitment to regime change, then it would have attempted to try and bolster the image of the reformist camp in Iran, which it refused to do. This arrogance of the empire will not end up paving the way for more progress in the Middle East, as the US has no viable military solution on the table for Iran. Instead, this will lead to more destruction and the further weakening of US hegemony.