As we approach the end of Hassan Rouhani’s 2nd year in the office of the president of the Islamic republic of Iran, it becomes clear that his entire tenure will be perceived by the success or lack of success that he will have in the nuclear talks with the West.
The Nuclear Deal is the Key
So as the deal is stalling again for various reasons, it seems that Rouhani has pulled off his gloves and is determined to get the job done and actually confront his opponents.
The nuclear saga, it appears, is slowly but surely dividing Iranian politics from within, and everybody must choose sides. Rouhani came to power on a promise of moderation, but he is learning that even within moderation, one must take a firmer stance: Iran’s economy is deteriorating once again causing Rouhani to tackle corporations of the IRGC and even Khamenei himself which have been evading paying taxes so far, demanding that they pay their dues.
But Rouhani and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, both know that the cure for the situation lies within the hoped for nuclear deal.
But is it enough?
Rouhani knows that Iran’s problems run much deeper than the economy – they stem the core of the country’s institutional extremism in its attitude towards minorities and any person or group that doesn’t adhere to the Islamic revolution. And so, in order to bring about the necessary change he promised, he has to fight the hardliners and the religious clerics.
For this, Rouhani should be given his due credit. Whether he will succeed or not is the multi-billion dollar question.
What the future holds
Iran’s president works under very tight conditions, the most important of them is the authorization of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, whose basically calling the shots, and lends Rouhani his approval. Even the tax demand from the corporations, who are held by Khamenei, is something that Rouhani could not have done with that support.
But Khamenei’s health is deteriorating, and so Rouhani knows that he must seize on these permissions, if he ever wants to achieve something before it is too late and he might have to deal with another Supreme Leader who is not favorable to a rapprochement with the West.
Without the nuclear deal, Rouhani promises will be stifled by Iran’s continued isolation. His next option is to ally Iran Eastwards with Russia and China who remain models of anti-moderation.