by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 50, No. 5, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1442)
The victory of Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi in the June 18 presidential elections has enormous implications for the future of the Islamic Republic. It is expected to arrest Iran’s slide into neoliberalism that was causing serious damage to the economy. Started under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami in 1997, neoliberal policies continued to be pursued by the outgoing Hassan Rouhani administration as well.
Far from alleviating people’s problems, this approach caused even more difficulties. It was compounded by promises made to the people that were not fulfilled. Predicated on the West’s non-existent goodwill, especially the US through the nuclear deal (aka JCPOA), such promises were bound to fail. The West’s duplicitous nature should have been taken into account.
President-elect Raeisi will assume his responsibilities with a clear understanding of the West’s true nature. He is also unlikely to formulate economic policies based on the assumption that the West can be relied upon to conduct honest dealings.
The contrasting reaction to his victory from resistance movements on the one hand and imperialist powers on the other show the clear divide in the world today. Resistance movements as well as powers opposed to US hegemony sent congratulatory messages to Iran’s president-elect. These included Lebanon’s Hizbullah, the Palestinian Islamic resistance movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Yemen’s Ansarallah, the governments in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey. Even Oman and the United Arab Emirates sent messages.
The West’s negative reaction to his victory clearly indicates that Raeisi is the right person to occupy the top executive post in Iran. After all, the people of Iran elect their president to serve them, not the interests of the hegemonic Western powers including Zionist Israel.
Who is Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi, the President-elect? Born into a family of modest means in the holy city of Mashhad, he became an orphan at the age of five. When he turned 15, he went to Qom, the centre of Islamic learning in Iran. He first completed a degree in Ijtihad, then did his MPhil in International Law and finally a PhD in Private Law. He is the author of numerous books on the lives of his illustrious teachers that include Shaheed Mutahhari, Shaheed Seyyed Beheshti and the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
Before contesting the presidential election, Raeisi was the Chief Justice of Iran. Prior to that he had served as head of Astana-e Quds Razavi, the organization that manages the shrine of Imam Raza (as) in Mashhad. Despite being head of the organization, he regularly joined workers in sweeping the floor and cleaning the rawza of the illustrious Imam.
Following the election result, he vowed to make good on his campaign pledges. He said he would work to form a “hard-working, revolutionary, and anti-corruption” administration. The choice of words was important. During the previous administration, there was widespread feeling that it was not working for the benefit of the people and that corruption and wrong policies had resulted in compounding the people’s problems.
True, the illegal US sanctions have adversely affected Iran’s economy but as the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei has advised on numerous occasions, the answer to sanctions is the resistance economy. It is based on the principle of local manufacture of products for internal consumption as well as export. Islamic Iran has immense human and material potential. As a major energy producing country in the world, it is also rich in many precious minerals including gold. These can form a strong base for its economic development.
Its high literacy rate will enable it to develop a knowledge-based economy. Already, Iran has taken major strides in the field of science and technology. To realize its true potential needs an executive branch that can integrate the many fields to benefit the people by improving the economy. This is what President-elect Raeisi’s election is supposed to achieve.
Following the June 18 election, he lauded the “historic” and “passionate” turnout of the people. He said, “the world once again witnessed a great epic created by an upstanding nation, which opened a new page in modern history before itself with faith, insight and solidarity,” Raeisi said in a statement on June 19, hours after he was declared the winner.
He added that the one who was elected belongs to the whole nation and is a “servant of the Republic in its entirety, whether those who voted for him or the ones who chose the other honorable candidates, or even those who did not turn up at the ballot boxes for whatever reason.”
Thanking the people of Iran for all the support they threw behind him, he said the winner of the “brilliant spectacle” on the world stage was the great nation of Iran, echoing the words of the Rahbar. Imam Khamenei had praised the “epic” turnout in the presidential election and said the Iranian people were the “great winners” of the key vote.
“Dear Iranian nation! You made good on your pledge yesterday [June 18] with all honesty, and today, it is the turn of… this servant of yours to honor the pledge I made to you and not be negligent, event for a single second, in serving you,” the president-elect said.
“Dear people of Iran, just as I entered the election [scene] independently, inshallah, I will form a hard-working, revolutionary, and anti-corruption administration, with the backing of your votes and the unique trust you put in me,” he added.
As the “central mission of the Islamic Revolution,” he added, his administration would move toward establishing justice and launching a great campaign of providing service to the Iranian people.
With the Majlis and the executive branch now in the hands of the Principalists (those that insist on strictly following the revolutionary path), there is much hope that Islamic Iran would take even greater strides in overcoming the obstacles created by the enemies of Islam. There is a general feeling that the next four years will be better than the previous four and that the resistance front under the leadership of Islamic Iran will now achieve even more successes.