Cleric Hassan Rouhani Officially Replaces Ahmadinejad as Iran President

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On Saturday, Cleric Hassan Rouhani officially replaces Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president of Iran, though his  public inauguration does not take place until Sunday.

At a ceremony in the capital, Tehran, Rouhani was given the complete backing and endorsement of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the man who is the real person in charge of Iran’s religious and political life.

Rouhani, 64, upon winning the presidential poll in June, promised to implement a policy of reform and also to put to an end Iran’s international isolation.

He was an Islamic activist before the 1979 Revolution, when Khamenei gained power, and he is a former nuclear negotiator for Iran.

Rouhani spoke at the ceremony about his desire to achieve change in Iran, saying:

I have assumed this responsibility with the support of those people who want change, who want a better life, away from corruption, poverty and discrimination, people who want more respect and dignity, and hope in a secure future.”

Iran’s reform movement is one of the major political groups which supports Rouhani. It wants the new president to release political prisoners and also to have international sanctions lifted.

Whether or not Hassan Rouhani would personally like to do what Iran’s reform movement would like him to do won’t guarantee that these two goals get accomplished, unless Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also decides the time is right to make changes that would lead to the release of the prisoners and having the international sanctions lifted.

Hassan Rouhani was born in 1948. Besides being an Islamic activist prior to Iran’s 1979 Revolution, he was an influential figure in the Iran-Iraq War. He served as the MP from 1980-2000, and was the National Security Advisor to Ahmadinejad between the years 1989-97 and 2000-05.

Rouhani was also Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator from 2003-05. He ;appears to be a person who is well-liked by various political factions in Iran. Though he is regarded as a centrist politician, some reformist groups also favor him.

Rouhani’s Views on Israel and the “Israeli occupation”

The world was given a glimpse of how Rouhani regards Israel and what he referred to as the Israeli occupation” when, the day before he took office, he said the the Israeli occupation was an “old wound on the body of the Islamic world.”

Ever since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has denied Israel’s right to exist.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, in his last interview before stepping aside on Friday, also attacked Israel. According to AFP news agency, the former president warned of a “storm brewing” in the region that would uproot Zionism.

Rather than focusing the blame of Iran’s current course on the road to economic ruin on Khamenei, many Iranians believe that it has been Ahmadinejad, elected twice in controversial polls, who has been responsible for their economic woes and confrontation with the outside world.

Rouhani will have a difficult job of opening up relations with the Western world, however, unless they forego their seeming efforts to create nuclear bombs.

Some 76 U.S. senators have sent a letter to President Obama in which they demand tougher punishment (meaning further sanctions) on Iran’s economy until the Islamic republic scales back its nuclear program. The letter also suggests that Obama should consider military options while keeping the door open to diplomacy.

Though cleric Hassan Rouhani officially replaces Ahmadinejad as the president of Iran, he inherits the same woes that plagued the former president of Iran and drove him out of office.

Written by: Douglas Cobb

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