This month marks seven years since Hassan Rouhani assumed the Iranian presidency. There was a lot of hope, both in Iran and abroad, when he was elected in 2013.
He twice ran to be president, offering promises such as “prudence and hope” and “freedom, security, peace and progress.”
He pledged to improve Iran’s economy, raise people’s living standards, bring normalcy to the country, enhance its image abroad, improve its ties with other countries, bring it out of international isolation, and advance civil liberties, human rights and the freedoms of speech, press and assembly.
In the West, he was dubbed as a reformist and a “diplomatic sheikh.”
But anyone who had studied the Islamic Republic since 1979 and examined Rouhani’s political and religious background in the system, as well as his books, speeches and activism prior to his presidency, was cognizant of the fact he was anything but a reformist.
What the international community, particularly the West, failed to realize was that Rouhani, like many other Iranian politicians who are labeled as reformists or moderates, had always been a staunch supporter and advocate of the Velayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist) system, which was expounded by the founding father of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
In a speech in 2008, Rouhani said: “In an Islamic society, the ‘Islamic system’ (of Velayat-e Faqih) is more important than anything else, and the preservation of the system is a religious obligation.”
A look at Rouhani’s past positions in the Islamic Republic should also have made it crystal clear to the international community that Rouhani was the ultimate insider and one of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s closest confidantes.
Ever since the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) was set up in 1989, Rouhani has been Khamenei’s representative on the committee. It is difficult to believe that Khamenei would have chosen Rouhani to be his representative on this important council without having assurances that Rouhani believed in his hard-line approach.
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