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Advancing Peace & Diplomacy
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The ascension of Raisi to the presidency will be widely viewed as a victory for hardliners in Iran and the U.S. who seek confrontation over conciliation between the U.S. and Iran. The authorities of the Islamic Republic will have to grapple with the fact that so few Iranians felt compelled to vote due to anti-democratic machinations and to the efforts to silence and delegitimize voices that fall outside of the exceedingly narrow spectrum of what is deemed acceptable political debate.
Iranians will vote for a new president on June 18th after eight years of moderate President Hassan Rouhani. The election occurs in a political context where Iranian conservatives have steadily consolidated power after the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, which was Rouhani’s signature achievement. The most hardline forces in Iran are now poised to take total control over all levers of power in Iran and sideline their moderate and reformist rivals.
Join NIAC and our featured panelists as we explore key questions arising from the election results, discuss whether Iran’s next President will change the country’s foreign and domestic policies, and what the prospects are for continued engagement with the West.
Less than four months after the tragic death of Iranian prisoner of conscience Behnam Mahjoubi, another political prisoner has died in the custody of Iranian prison authorities from maltreatment and lack of access to proper medical treatment. Like Mahjoubi, who suffered from a serious panic disorder that required daily medication, Sasan Niknafs needed suitable medical attention for his serious health issues, including epilepsy, diabetes, and depression.
Thirty-five-year-old French citizen, Benjamin Brière, was arrested in Iran in May of 2020 for allegedly flying a drone and taking photos in a restricted area near an Iranian border. Brière is now facing charges of espionage and “propaganda against the system” in an Iranian court.
The Iranian election will take place amid many Iranians choosing to boycott the vote. Conservative Ebrahim Raisi is the frontrunner, and moderate Abdolnaser Hemmati’s best hope is to take the election to a runoff. Both candidates have signaled support for the JCPOA. Iran’s chief negotiator at the Vienna talks also says Raisi will support talks to restore the deal.
Iran’s presidential campaign is in full swing and the candidates have sparred in two televised debates. President Rouhani has derided the conservative candidates for scapegoating his administration and not talking about U.S. sanctions. Meanwhile, a bill in parliament seeks to further restrict internet access and the Vienna JCPOA talks are due to restart this Saturday.