The impressive victory of moderate and reformist Iran President Hassan Rouhani, who was seeking a second term, in the election whose result was announced on Saturday, is a sign with potentially good prospects. A sweeping victory for a moderate leader against the diehard conservative former judge Ebrahim Raisi, in an election in which the voting percentage was above 70, can potentially help ease tensions in a volatile region.
For India too, the victory of the reform-minded President will make it easier to do normal business with Iran since the US had promised lifting of sanctions against it following the signing of the US-led international accord under which Iran had agreed to scale back its nuclear facilities. President Rouhani’s principal support base appears to have been the urban centres where personal freedoms — encapsulated by the opening of high-speed Internet which helped open the window to the world — mattered considerably.
But in spite of the promise that lifting of US sanctions will improve the economy, the national economy remains crisis-ridden. An important reason is that Washington has not delivered fully on sanctions. It is to be seen how Ayatollah Rouhani proceeds on this with a hostile Trump administration in place in America. But Iran does hold a few cards. It has greatly improved ties with Europe. Besides, its support remains crucial to the survival of the US-backed Hydari regime in Iraq as well as to the fight against the ISIS.