Massoud Pyzhashkian, 69, is a former heart surgeon.


The election of relative moderate Masoud Pezhashkian as Iran’s president has dashed hopes for Iranians longing for social freedoms and better relations with the West, but few expect major policy changes.

Insiders and analysts say the political fortunes of Iran’s ruling clerics depend on how they deal with the economic crisis, so Pezhashkian may have a relatively strong hand in reviving the economy, but scope to allow his social freedoms. will be limited.

Under Iran’s dual system of religious and democratic governance, the president cannot initiate any major policy changes in Iran’s nuclear program or foreign policy, as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls all the shots in high-level affairs of state.

However, the president can influence the tone of policy and will be closely involved in choosing a successor to Khamenei, now 85.

Hardliners in Khamenei-controlled institutions such as the judiciary, armed forces and media have in the past either opened new avenues to the West or blocked domestic liberalization.

Khamenei has set the guidelines for what he wants to see in a new government by advising Pizshakyan to continue the policies of hardline President Ibrahim Raisi, who died in a helicopter crash in May.

Karim Sajjadpour, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington, said, “Pyzhashkian identifies himself as a ‘principlist’ — committed to the ideological principles of the revolution — and he is deeply committed to his devotion to the Revolutionary Guards and Khamenei. is clear about.”

Will Iran change its position on the nuclear standoff?

Pizshakyan, a 69-year-old former heart surgeon, won Iran’s presidential election last week and has yet to be sworn in.

He has pledged to promote a pragmatic foreign policy and ease tensions with the six major powers involved in now-stalled nuclear talks to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

Of course, analysts said, Pyzhashkian’s victory was a blow to stalwarts like his rival, the hardline Saeed Jalili, who opposed any opening to the West and any revival of the nuclear deal.

Jalili’s supporters have criticized a hard-line watchdog for allowing Pyzhashkian to run, a decision insiders say Khamenei made to achieve higher turnout amid persistently low voter turnout from 2020. Is.

Pyzhashkian hopes that renewed talks with the West will lead to an end to tough US sanctions, given growing public discontent over economic hardship.

However, White House spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the United States is not ready to resume nuclear talks with Iran under a new president.

The stakes are high for Pezeshkian. The president could be politically vulnerable if he fails to revive the deal, which then-US President Donald Trump scrapped in 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran.

“He has a tough road ahead,” said one senior reformist former official. He supported them.”

Restoring ties with the United States, which Iran’s rulers have called the “great devil” since taking power in a 1979 revolution, is out of the question.

Will the economy boom?

As the economy remains Khamenei’s Achilles’ heel, breaking free from US sanctions, which have cost Iran billions of dollars in oil revenue, will remain a top economic goal for Pizishkian.

Rising prices and limited spending power have forced millions of Iranians to struggle against a combination of sanctions and mismanagement.

Khamenei knows the economic struggle is a constant challenge for the ruling clerics, who fear a revival of protests since 2017 that have angered low- and middle-income earners.

“Failure to improve the economy will lead to street protests, especially now that people have high hopes because of Pyzhashkyan’s election promises,” said an insider close to Khamenei.

Analysts say Trump’s return as US president is likely to lead to stricter enforcement of oil embargoes.

Will strict social restrictions change?

Pizshakyan has an insider position and close ties to the theocratic Khamenei, and he may be able to build bridges between factions to create moderation, but he will not be able to bring about the fundamental changes that many have sought. Pro-Iranian demands.

Analysts say Pezheshkian is likely to be like his predecessors – reformist President Mohammad Khatami and pragmatist Hassan Rouhani – who whetted Iranians’ appetite for change but ultimately within the dominant elite of clerics and the powerful class. The hardliners stopped them. Revolutionary Guards.

Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the New York-based advocacy, said, “Pyzhashkian is neither a reformist nor a moderate… As Khamenei’s foot soldier, Pzhyshkian will be subject to his wishes which are clearly They have been ruling with violence and coercion.” Group of Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

As a lawmaker in 2022, Pezhashkian criticized the establishment over the death in custody of young Iranian woman Mehsa Amini, which sparked months of unrest in Iran.

Will Iran change its regional policy?

no chance. The supreme authority in regional policy is not the president, but the guards, who answer only to Khamenei.

Pizshakyan is taking office at a time when tensions are rising in the Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Signaling a shift in Iran’s regional policies, Pyzhashkian on Monday reaffirmed Iran’s anti-Israel stance and support for resistance movements across the region.

“Supporting the people’s resistance in the region against the illegitimate Zionist regime (Israel) is one of the core policies of the Islamic Republic,” Pizshakyan said in a message to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

(Other than the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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