On May 19, Iranians will head to the polls in a vote that will either reaffirm the mandate of President Hassan Rouhani or render him the first one-term president since Iran’s 1979 revolution. While Rouhani appeared to have a relatively clear path to reelection, the entrance of two influential conservative candidates, Ibrahim Raisi and Mohammad Qalibaf, has added to the uncertainty of the race. The outcome will have profound repercussions far beyond Iran’s borders, as Tehran plays a central role in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the political stability of Iraq, the fight against ISIS, and, of course, the nuclear deal that reshaped Iranian relations and much of the international community.
On May 16, the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace co-hosted a discussion on the election’s candidates, its stakes, and its potential impact on the policies of the Trump administration and Congress. The discussion featured Mehdi Khalaji, Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy; Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy and deputy director of the Brookings Foreign Policy program; and Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow in Carnegie’s Middle East Program. Michael Crowley, senior foreign affairs correspondent for Politico, moderated the discussion. Following the discussion, panelists took audience questions.