DC Edit | In Iran, promise of change

A whiff of the winds of change blowing inside Iran could be scented in the results of the presidential election in which the reformist Masoud Pezeshkian won beating the ultraconservative Saeed Jalili. His victory might be the harbinger of hope for a country that has been smothered by international sanctions to inhibit its nuclear programme and which, in turn, suffocated its people with stentorian regulations even as its economy has been tanking.

But the powers of the President may be severely restricted in the theocratic state in which the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s word will be the final in most matters including, most of all, foreign policy.

Well, at least, the women might breathe easy if the moderate reformist agenda of Mr Pezeshkian prevails in domestic matters, specifically in doing away with the mandatory hijab law, the application of which created so much dissent and led to the deaths of defiant feminists like Jina Amini.

And yet it remains to be seen if the new President can keep his promise of disbanding the moral police in a state in which most powers are concentrated in the Ayatollah and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

The people came in much larger numbers to vote in the runoff — the turnout in the first round was only 40 per cent — with Mr Pezeshkian’s appeal to come and save Iran resonating as little had changed in the application of oppressive edicts under two previous Presidents, as particularly evinced from the harsh crackdowns in Mr Raisi’s administration.

Reaching a deal with the US to lift sanctions on oil sales and banking will be a much longer shot, so too easing of ties with the West because of the huge divergence of outlook. There can be no great expectations on this count as the world and Iran awaits the US presidential election. A return of Mr Donald Trump can only dampen any lingering prospects further as he was the one who cancelled the nuclear deal with Iran six years ago.

Iran’s ties with Russia, China and India may grow further under Mr Pezeshkian. The antagonism with Israel is bound to prevail and may do so even if a Gaza ceasefire deal does fructify as seems likely now. What might matter more right now is that common Iranians may see hope in the verdict that has brought a reformist to high office.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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