Ebrahim Raisi, much more than the President of Iran

Ebrahim Raisi on June 18, 2021 he became the new president of the Islamic Republic. With his black turban symbol of descent from the Prophet, beige tunic, well-groomed beard, sharp but calm gaze, he achieved victory with the lowest turnout in forty years, 48%. A triumph driven by the regime and the supreme leader Ali Khamenei with the aim of renegotiating the Nuclear Treaty with maximum rigidity and strengthening the independence of the economy.

His internal rise was the result of a dense network of relationships. His power is linked to his role as guardian of the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad. But Raisi he is also married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, the daughter of the imam of the “Friday prayer” of Mashhad. Her caretaker position is important because she involves managing a bonyad, the charities that control about 20 percent of GDP. Raisi he is a controversial character. For decades he worked as a public prosecutor, and for two years he was head of the judiciary. The low point in his career was his role in the summary execution of thousands of political prisoners and members of left-wing armed groups in the late 1980s.

«To identify the forces they projected Raisi the presidency must look at the composition of its executive” he explains Ali Alfonehanalyst at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington a Panorama. «37% of the ministers are veterans of the Pasdaran, which in addition to being a military organization is one of the major economic players in Iran. 21% of the ministers are former leaders of the Imam Reza Shrine Charitable Organization, the State equivalent of the Vatican, which Raisi he administered from 2016 to 2019″.

In the election campaign Raisi not only did he present himself as a technocrat, but he promised to fight internal violence, corruption and to reduce the much-hated morality police. He then seized power in a planned election. The Guardian Council excluded not only the reformists and the ultra-conservative and populist from the competition Mahmud Ahmadinejadbut also Ali Larijaniformer speaker of parliament and chief nuclear negotiator.

«The opposition to the president Raisi it's disorganized” he confirms Alfoneh. «The elites led by Rohani they are weakened. The reformist camp headed by the former president Mohammad Khatami it barely exists. This leaves the street protests leaderless.” As if that wasn't enough, Iran is bent by the grip of US sanctions and the pandemic. The economy contracted 7 percent in 2019. The rial, the national currency, has lost 85 percent of its value since 2017 and inflation has risen to 45 percent.

Iman, 38 years old, single, interior designer says: «Prices increase every day. The idea of ​​having a family is now a dream, the situation has worsened with the election of Raisi». Also threatening the stability of the country are the protests in Isfahan, the most beautiful of Iranian cities, with its astonishing Shah's Mosque. Here thousands of people marched to demand that the most precious commodity, water, be returned; several were injured in the clashes. A sign of further tension.

Economic relations with Italy were also damaged. Our exports have shrunk to a third. Banks and businesses are afraid of retaliation from Washington and so have thought about triangulations with companies in Turkey or Dubai. Tehran has pushed towards protectionism in response. The nuclear negotiations could lead to a turning point. The Islamic Republic, however, refused to speak to American officials. Instead he negotiated with Europeans, Russians and Chinese.

Alliances are changing. And the recent meeting in Moscow between the Russian Foreign Minister was crucial Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, recently installed. In this turmoil the country will soon need a new supreme leader. On the health of Ali Khamenei, now 82 years old, all we know is that he has undergone prostate surgery. Rumors about his worsening have been denied several times, but in his latest appearances he seems tired and tired.

«Iranian analysts had not predicted that Khamenei happened to Khomeini in 1989″ he says Alfoneh. «However, Raisi appears to have the blessing of several key institutions: Khamenei precisely, the Pasdaran and the bonyad of Mashhad.” Zahra, a 68-year-old housewife, is resigned: “In Iran everyone is only interested in the income of a particular group, not in the well-being of the people.”

The match for RaisiHowever, now it is played mainly abroad. It is easy for the president to pursue alliances with Russia, in fact (Vladimir Putin was among the first to congratulate him on the election which will lead to «our constructive cooperation» he said), but above all with China: Tehran recently signed a 25-year partnership with Beijing for the New Path of silk. The Asian power will invest $400 billion in the Iranian economy in exchange for a discounted supply of oil.

The shot from last August, which portrays the two foreign ministers, is famous Wang Yi and the then incumbent Mohammad Javad Zarif, after the signing of the agreement. Both satisfied with having signed an agreement that will change global balances. However, the Middle East remains crucial for Iran. Here he will strengthen the “axis of resistance”, the sprawling network of his allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen to put pressure on the United States. Tehran and Washington could actually end up on a collision course. But the last word has not been said. The American spokesperson clarified: “We are giving it another chance because it is in our interest.”