Iran: can Rouhani continue his reform policy?
Following his re-election as Iran's president Hassan Rouhani now faces the challenge of pushing through his announced reforms in the face of strong domestic opposition. Many commentators doubt that he can succeed.
President under massive pressure
The pressure on Rouhani to implement reforms is greater than ever, Iranian journalist Parisa Hafezi writes in a guest commentary for the Cyprus Mail:
“He has now contributed to that pressure himself by campaigning hard as a reformist, particularly in the final days. 'Clearly it's going to be difficult to back down on some of this stuff,' said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University. Milani noted 'the challenges he gave to the IRGC' as well as promises to release reformist leaders held under house arrest. 'All of these are going to put him on a confrontation path if not a collision course with the conservatives,' he said.The internal power struggle in the Islamic Republic is not just a philosophical argument between reformists and hardliners, but a battle to preserve the dominance of a theocratic establishment with vested interests and privileges.”
Trump and Saudis help the ultra-conservatives
Unfortunately Rouhani's re-election doesn't necessarily mean that Tehran will continue on its pro-Western course, warns Avvenire:
“Iranian presidents are traditionally weaker in their second term because Khamenei ties their hands even more. Rouhani will hardly be an exception, and certainly not if the government tries to correct the many inconsistencies of a corrupt protectionist economy. In this economy, conservative religious foundations and the shadow societies of the Revolutionary Guard whose power has infiltrated the Islamic Republic's entire system are thriving. The new Trump administration is only complicating the situation further. In Washington the anti-Iranian rhetoric has intensified to a dangerous level: the president and his men are openly hostile to the Islamic Republic, which pleases Israel and Saudi Arabia in particular. Paradoxically the Americans and Saudis are actually helping the ultra-conservatives who lost the election with their policies.”
Iranians not benefiting from nuclear deal
The nuclear deal isn't doing much for the Iranian people, political scientist Valentin Naumescu explains on blog portal Contributors:
“A survey from April shows that 72 percent of Iranians don't think the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has made much of an impact on their standard of living. Nor have they felt the benefits of the gradual lifting of sanctions, even though Iran’s economic growth was at five to eight percent between 2015 and 2016. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, is high at 12 percent, rising to 25 percent among the young. This will be one of the reasons why for the first time since 1981 a second round of voting could become necessary, instead of the election being decided in the first round.”
Next coup just a matter of time?
There is every sign of an impending coup in Iran, writes Taimoor Aliassi, UN Representative of the Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran-Geneva, in Le Temps:
“Disappointed by thirty-seven years of clerical rule, the post-revolution generation now has a hard time believing there can be a better future under the Ayatollahs. For many intellectuals, political scientists, journalists, activists and artists the question is no longer when the next coup d'état will occur, but how it will take place and what consequences it will have. That is, will there be a bloodbath and generalised unrest, as in Syria or Iraq? Or will the country be ruled by an even more authoritarian and centralised power, more or less remote-controlled by certain Western powers, first and foremost the US, that have no interest in seeing the country dissolve into turmoil and are ready to sacrifice their supposed ideals at the alter of regional stability?”