World Bulletin / News Desk
President Hassan Rouhani has emerged triumphant both at home and abroad, bringing Iran in from the cold by using his pragmatism to try and end crippling sanctions and decades of hostility with the West through detente and diplomacy.
Iran and world powers reached a framework agreement on Thursday on curbing Iran's nuclear programme for at least a decade, a step towards a final pact that could end 12 years of brinkmanship, threats and confrontation.
If the deal results in a comprehensive agreement in June, Rouhani's popularity would grow even further, giving him the political capital to take on hardliners blocking his promises of political and social reforms in the Islamic Republic.
A 66-year-old mid-ranking cleric who formerly served as Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Rouhani dismisses any suggestion that his pragmatism represents a betrayal of the Islamic Republic's founding precepts.
"Moderation does not mean deviating from principles and it is not conservatism in the face of change and development," he said shortly after the surprise election defeat of his conservative rivals by a landslide in 2013.
Rouhani also appeared to acknowledge that it would take time to fulfil his campaign promises. "Moderation ... is an active and patient approach in society in order to be distant from the abyss of extremism," he said.
At home, the mild-mannered insider has as yet little to show for his pledge of a more transparent and tolerant administration; the political and civic restrictions that irk many Iranians remain stringent.
The United Nations noted in March 2015 that large numbers of prisoners are executed, including political activists and juveniles. Journalists are routinely imprisoned, and women and minorities face rights violations, the UN added. .
Notably, two leading reformist politicians who contested the previous presidential elections in 2009 remain under house arrest. Their supporters turned out in force to elect Rouhani four years later, after he made an implicit pledge to free them and other political prisoners.