Rouhani: A master of persuasion

Together with being a madrasa-educated man of knowledge, Rouhani, who was also a law professor, is known for his close ties with Rafsanjani during the beginning of the revolution.

Rouhani: A master of persuasion

Cihan Aktas

Last year when Hassan Rouhani was first elect as the president of Iran, I wrote an article called 'A Return to the Line of Freedom'. Rouhani entered the elections as a 'progressive' candidate of Rafsanjani, who also gained the support of Hatemi, who commended him on his promises to bring freedom.

The question now is, has Rouhani, who was known as a strong bureaucrat, been a successful politician? Even though a year is not enough to develop a clear evaluation of his political report, it is an important time period to develop an opinion of his performance.

Iranian analysts think that Rouhani has succeeded where Ahmedinejad failed in making economic and social progress.

Together with being a madrasa-educated man of knowledge, Rouhani, who was also a law professor, is known for his close ties with Rafsanjani during the beginning of the revolution. He was a member of the Reform Observatory Council and was also actibe in the Strategic Research Office and Security Council.

During his candidacy, many experts wrote him off against Tahran mayor Galibaf. In a country split between left and right, Galibaf, Haddadadil and Velayeti led the righist front. It was clear that Hatemi would not be a candidate and even if he was he would not be successful, so instead of participating himself, he nominated his aide Arif instead.

After Hatem met with Rafsanjani, Hatem understood that he could not win for the left-wing on his own and even if he did win he would not be successful in power, so he stepped aside for Rafsanjani's candidate Rouhani.

Haddadadil was the first to pull-back from the right-wing, but Velayeti and Galibaf continued to push their propaganda. Even though Rouhani had the support of the left, in his TV interviews he promised to uphold the middle path, that Islam was a religion of freedom and that he would stick to these principles. His words were seen as key to help solve the country's economic and political problems.

Rouhani in one interview reminded the people that the right-wing's favorite candidate, Tahran mayor Galibaf, was once a police chief who was known for his harsh crackdowns on student protests. Rouhani was able to convince voters who generally stayed away from the ballot box.

As soon as he came to power, Rouhani immediately started working to fix relations with the West, stopped interfering in private affairs and began the process of economic revival. Within three months he gave a speech regarding the promises he had kept, adding his vow to prevent new embargoes and lift old ones. In a short time, this was seen as a victory for the new leader.

His success in the economic and international politics fields inspired a new wave of analyses regarding Iran's internal affairs and Islamic issues. However, his statements such as 'It is not the responsibility of the state to force everyone into Paradise' brought on the criticisms of conservatives, triggering ongoing debates.

Rouhani says that Islamic debates should be conducted in the madrasas and by cultural organizations, not by the state. The states' job is simply to support and open the way for these organizations. Rouhani seems to have learned his lesson from the mistakes of Hatemi.

Can we expect a similar approach to foreign and neighborly affairs? How will he solve local issues? Can his visit to Turkey revive and old alliance from the not-so-distant past?

As Iran continues to revive its relations with Europe, not to mention the compromising approach regarding the subject of nuclear energy, likewise Erdogan's visit to Iran - in which as a turning point the two nations made a number of joint decisions and agreements, raising the value to bilateral trade to $30 billion - is a sign of a new long-term cooperation.

This cooperation could help solve problems in the region, including the civil war in Syria and the Kurdish problem. Will this be the case? Only time will tell...

Last Mod: 03 Temmuz 2014, 12:03
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