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Hard-line Iranian cleric wins presidency: What it means for India?

WebdeskJun 20, 2021, 03:35 PM IST

Hard-line Iranian cleric wins presidency: What it means for India?

Happenings in the Middle East are important to India as we import 71.2% (as of July 2020) Oil from them. Peace and Tranquility in the Middle East are important not only for India but also to the entire world as any disturbances there can have supply chain disturbances and price rise. After President Joe Biden became President of Iran US Nuclear Proliferation was getting re-discussed in Vienna and Iran was talking to the US to end Sanctions to export Oil and rejuvenate its economy.


Presidential elections were held in Iran on 18 June 2021. It was the thirteenth presidential election in Iran since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979. In the Election Ebrahim Raisi (60), Iran’s judiciary chief won with 17.8 million votes in a low voter turnout in the Islamic Republic’s History. The President-Elect had close ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (82). He is seen as the likely successor to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had the last word on all important matters of state. And his election as president could be a significant step in his ascent to the top job. In the Election, he faced former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei who got 3.3 million votes, moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati winning 2.4 million, and Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi with 1 million nearly for now.


The Positive factor is, he has close ties with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ayatollah wants to restore a nuclear agreement with the West to lift the crushing sanctions that have kept Iranian oil largely off the market and economic recovery. However, his victory is looked down on as both the U.S. and European Union have sanctioned him. In 2019, the U.S. sanctioned him over human rights abuses, including overseeing the execution of minors, torture, and cruel treatment of prisoners. He had vowed to dismember corrupt Iranians “We will not only cut off the fingers but chop off the arms of the corrupt.” He was also involved in the 2009 Green Movement's harsh crackdown on Iranian demonstrators and the extrajudicial killings of thousands of political detainees in 1988. He had praised the Guards for shooting down an American drone.


The Losing Candidates Hemmati and Rezaei congratulated their opponent “I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran.” Rezaei also offered praise for Raisi, “God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems.”


But Mr. Raisi’s victory looked as staged as many Iranians boycotted the election. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported 42 cases of journalists being summoned or threatened for writing about candidates. The chief of the police threatened against telling people not to vote.


Iran’s Guardian Council rejected the candidacy of Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by expressing doubts of a free election, because of his ties with the supreme leader. He had called for a boycott of the election. Even current Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was disqualified for the Elections.


As for India, happenings in Iran are very important as Iran is the center of the Middle East and the leader of the Shia Regime in the world. It is in direct conflict with ISIS. Its economy before the Pandemic was around USD 400 billion, the second largest after Saudi Arabia, it was the world's hottest investment destination as it has opened various critical sectors including oil and gas for joint ventures and foreign capital before sanctions. India has been eyeing closer links with Iran in the energy sector. In addition, both countries' counter-terrorism and marine security co-operation has improved. They have good co-operation between the National Security Council structures of the two countries and agreed to intensify this engagement. But the sanctions had made things difficult.


However, If Iran opens up and improves relations with the US and the West there will be a great check to Bilateral, Regional, and Global Politics. China’s design to use Iran after sanctions hit the investment and Oil Export. China will be unhappy as Iran can move with the world without depending on China for investment and export if the sanctions are lifted. Russia, who wanted an axis of Iran China Russia has to be contained only with Syria as Iran prefers to move with the world. Iran is stopping its proxy war with Saudi Arabia, and indirect talks are going on for improving relations.


Finally, these elections mean a lot for India as India's Iran Relations have become strong and meaningful with the Chabahar-Zahedan Railway link and civilization ties. Chabahar, India's largest project in Iran, has to flourish to revive the economy. For the port to become an asset and to fulfill the ambitious plans, trade is essential. And trade is impossible without the sanctions being eased.


Terrorism, Proxy War, instability in Yemen, the rise of Taliban, Sahel Region, happenings in Israel, American withdrawal in Afghanistan, and the peaceful Middle East with Iran in lead, will be seen from an Indian Perspective. So a strong leadership in Iran with no sanctions can integrate it into World Economy. This can pave way for the flow of oil and other resources from Iran to India. Finally, one can conclude that the Iran Elections are a good sign, but it has to improve relations with the US and the West and come out of Nuclear Myth and its sanctions. It should be careful about China. Its investments as a debt trap to control the resources by taking advantage of the sanctions should be checked, but how in the future Iran moves is the question. The world will watch for now as India wants a peaceful Middle East. Good Luck to the New President.


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