The Iranian people have spoken, and their voice has been heard. More than 70% of eligible voters turned out to elect the most moderate of the eight presidential candidates approved by the Guardian Council, the body that, among other things, vets candidates for public office. Hassan Rowhani’s unexpected first-round victory could open doors, both for diplomacy and for Iran’s sanctions-ravaged economy.
This opening is important, but the potential for change that comes with Rowhani’s victory is no means limitless or certain. After all, Iran’s president does not stand alone at the head of his country. Still, the election’s outcome is a strong and hopeful signal, and Iran’s international negotiating partners must pay proper attention and react in kind.
The mood in Tehran this weekend could not have been more different from the last election in 2009. In Iran, as elsewhere, the street is the country’s best social barometer, and Iran’s 75 million inhabitants – frustrated with sky-high inflation and economic hardship – saw reason to celebrate. After hand-picking the eight candidates from among almost 700 who sought to run (notably discarding reformist former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s protégé Esfandiar Mashaei), Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei carefully allowed his country to speak.
[Trump has] given Iran the moral high ground and that is an exceptionally difficult thing to do given the history and reality of Iran's misdeeds at home and in the region. It's just malpractice on the part of an American president.
The way the Trump administration is moving forward [with its Iran policy] is just so hostile to all aspects of Iran that it’s unlikely to produce any traction with the Iranian people or to encourage divisions within the system.
The intent of [any U.S. action] to do with the IRGC is basically to cast a very broad shadow over sectors of the Iranian economy and exacerbate the compliance nightmare for foreign businesses that may be considering trade and investment with Iran.