WASHINGTON, D.C. – Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement regarding the decisive reelection of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani:
“The Iranian people have spoken by coming out in record numbers to vote in Friday’s presidential elections. By continuing to engage at the ballot box, and once more demonstrating their preference for the most moderate option available, they have chosen a path of gradual transformation through peaceful participation. Once again, the Iranian people have shown their persistence to choose their own destiny and to reject all attempts to stymie that right.”
“President Rouhani’s convincing win is a sharp rebuke to Iran’s unelected institutions that were a significant brake on progress during Rouhani’s first term. It is also a rebuke of Washington hawks who openly called for either a boycott of the vote or for the hardline candidate Ebrahim Raisi to win in order to hasten a confrontation.
“For Rouhani, now is the time to deliver on the promises that inspired tens of millions of Iranians to elect him twice as president. He must take decisive action to protect the human rights and civil liberties of the Iranian people, pursue improved relations with the world, and promote economic growth for the Iranian people. The hardline forces behind Iran’s arbitrary arrests and spiking executions may not answer to Rouhani directly, but the Iranian people who elected him expect him to do more in his second term to bring about change. Failure to do so risks disenchanting a generation of Iranians from the belief that their voice can make a difference, potentially ceding Iran’s future to the hardline voices who would take the country back to isolationism and confrontation with the West.
“President Rouhani’s reelection also creates an opportunity for the Trump administration to chose diplomacy over war with Iran. During his campaign, Rouhani clearly stated his desire to lift the remaining non-nuclear sanctions on Iran, which can only be interpreted as a desire to engage in further diplomatic talks with Washington. If the Trump administration is willing to unclench its fist, it can advance US national interest and security in the Middle East in ways that confrontation and war have proven unable to.
“In the wake of the nuclear deal, no one should discount the ability of Washington and Tehran to resolve any of their seemingly intractable differences. President Rouhani’s decisive electoral victory provides the pro-diplomacy President significant political capital to pursue improved relations between Tehran and Washington. The Trump administration should not squander this opportunity. Further, Congress should avoid undermining the clear pro-engagement message sent by the Iranian people and empowering hardliners by pushing forward provocative sanctions legislation in the wake of the election results.”