What's new from Iran?


Terek Mizan What's new from Iran?Iranian presidents carry out important administrative functions, including managing government bureaucracy. They also have the power to lead initiatives, such as the domestic reform project of Mohammad Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005, and the arms control diplomacy of Raisi’s predecessor Hassan Rouhani, whose government negotiated the nuclear deal that temporarily froze Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief. 


The president also chairs the Supreme National Security Council, which makes decisions about the country’s nuclear program. The regime continues to say the program is for civilian purposes only, but some experts have raised concerns that it is approaching military capability.


Yet, the president’s power is still circumscribed by the authority of the supreme leader, who oversees all national affairs. Historically, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has had tense relationships with presidents given the push-and-pull of this institutional arrangement. But Raisi was probably Khamenei’s favorite president. He was deferential and rarely said anything of interest. He did not embark on any initiative of import in his less than three years in office and leaves behind a legacy best known for what he did before the presidency—as the ultimate henchman of the Islamic Republic’s judicial system.


Raisi did not have much say on matters of international affairs. He accepted the country’s decision-making apparatus as it was constructed—for instance, in which a number of security-related matters devolved to the Supreme Leader—and rarely challenged the parameters of Iran’s foreign policy. There was little reason to have done so, given the success of the proxy warfare that allows Iran to project power with a measure of impunity

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