Presidential Elections in Iran Will Not Affect Relations with Russia
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Seyed Mohammad Marandi

Associate Professor of English Literature and Orientalism, University of Tehran. Dean of the World Studies Faculty of the University of Tehran

Seyed Hossein Mousavian

Seyed Hossein Mousavian — Head of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran (1997-2005), a research fellow at Princeton University (USA)

Valdai Discussion Club

If the current President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani is defeated, we should expect significant changes in the country’s domestic and foreign policies, but this will not affect relations with Russia, said  Valdai Discussion Club experts  Seyed Hossein Mousavian and Mohammad Marandi.

According to Seyed Hossein Mousavian, head of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran (1997-2005), a research fellow at Princeton University (USA), the winner of the presidential election seems to be identified in the first round. «Of course, so far no one knows for sure. But most likely only the first round of the elections will be held,” Mousavian said in an interview with www.valdaiclub.com.

This time the presidential race surprised with unexpected developments: out of the six candidates, who initially claimed the presidency, for today there are only four. Mohammad Galibaf, who, according to analysts, could compete with the current leader Hassan Rouhani and his main opponent, Ebrahim Raisi, withdrew his candidacy. «This step is aimed to consolidate the conservative forces in order to ensure their victory in the elections,» the expert said.

Mousavian noted, that the Russian-Iranian relations will continue to develop in a positive manner and will remain stable whatever the outcome of the election is.

According to the expert, one cannot exclude Iran’s return to confrontation with the West, but this is not connected with the present presidential elections. «As long as Trump is in power, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will remain under threat. If the US violates it, then a confrontational scenario is quite possible,» the Iranian expert said.

Mohammad Marandi, professor at the University of Tehran, believes that there will be no significant changes in Iran’s foreign policy in case of any candidate’s victory. Both Hassan Rouhani and Ebrahim Raisi supported the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program. They also support the current policy of Iran in Syria. It is unlikely that the victory of Raisi or the second term of Rouhani will change the Russian-Iranian relations, which have become closer in the last three years, the expert noted in an interview with www.valdaiclub.com.

«The difference is that Raisi is slightly more angered by the fact that the US does not weaken the criticism of the Iran’s nuclear program deal, and, in general, Raisi is more skeptical than Rouhani regarding the United States,» the expert said. As for the Iranian attitude towards Europe, Russia, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, the positions of the two main candidates are similar.

According to Marandi, the differences between the main candidates relate primarily to the economy and domestic policy. President Rouhani is a supporter of the liberal economy. Raisi criticizes the liberal economy; he is mainly concerned with the growing gap between the rich and the poor. «It turns out that Rouhani is betting on maintaining a stable economy, and Raisi is more focused on issues of social differences equalization,» the expert said.» The main issue that everyone cares today is the economic situation in the country.»

«Usually presidents who go for a second term, win with a great advantage , but now opinion polls constantly predict the victory of one or another candidate,» concluded Mohammad Marandi.

Valdai Discussion Club