emfizz.com May 25, 2017

Polls open in first Iran presidential vote since atomic deal

19 May 2017, 06:07 | Bernard Bryant

The threat of new US sanctions would then be very real, and new restrictions on Iran could hamper oil production. He served as culture minister for four years under Rafsanjani. In 2016, Ahmad Montazeri, Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri's son, released audio recordings from his late father.

Mr Rouhani has attracted the influential support of the Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of Ayatollah Rouhallah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic which overthrew the Pahlavi dynasty in 1979.

"Any candidate who is elected should be helped to accomplish this heavy responsibility", Rouhani said.

However, analysts feel that Raisi, who is expected to win the votes of conservatives, may become a threat to the historic deal. "Whoever threatens the country's national security values will be slapped", said Khamenei.

Turnout will be key - no more so than for Rouhani. With a Raisi win, this will be the first time sine the Bush-Ahmadinejad era that the world would see a confrontation versus confrontation duo in their first terms.

"A sanctions snap-back could not only deter foreign investment in the Iranian energy sector but could also curtail the country's ability to sell its barrels overseas", Croft said. Saudi Arabia will mark the USA president's first stop on his first foreign trip.

A supporter of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, holds his poster as the other one holds a poster of his main rival Ebrahim Raisi during a street campaign.

Trump and the Saudis - with their 31-year-old defense minister, Mohammed bin Salman, taking a harsh lead - have outlined an uncompromising, confrontational attitude toward Iran.

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In December past year, when the members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-members including Russian Federation agreed on the first oil output cuts since 2008, Iran was exempted on the grounds that the country had severe economic losses under the sanctions so that it had to be allowed to boost oil production. And what country is supporting them? "The Saudis know the answer", said former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations and reformist politician Sadegh Kharazi.

Raisi is a mid-ranking figure in the hierarchy of Iran's Shi'ite Muslim clergy but has been a senior official for decades in the judiciary which enforces clerical control of the country. In Iran, extreme moves are supported by the hardliners and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) spoilers - those who are evident supporters of Raisi. Therefore, even under a more moderate Rouhani administration, there will likely be little substantive change to Iran's approach to Syria and other regional conflicts.

Raisi has not said that Iran would back out of the deal if elected, but confrontation with the US would be much more likely if he prevailed, ultimately putting the nuclear deal in danger. During his campaign Rouhani has spoken of a full lifting of sanctions, even those unrelated to the nuclear accord.

Raisi's inward-looking economic approach could stimulate domestic steel consumption but at a hefty cost, as the government would need to subsidize Iranian steelmakers.

The president does have considerable leeway to enact policy at home and overseas, by appointing thousands of officials in the country and building a significant power base.

The clinching of the nuclear deal paved the way for Iran to re-establish its trade relations and has restarted oil exports. They've also criticized Rouhani for pandering to the West, signaling that a hardliner win would mean a shifting of diplomatic gears and a possible heightening of tensions with the global community.

"I represent laborers, women without guardians, those who have a lot to say but have no microphone", the 56-year-old cleric said in a televised presidential debate. He asked not to share his last name for security reasons.

For many in Iran, especially in affluent areas of the capital, Tehran, he has provided a glimpse of what many have long desired - engagement with the outside world, without the types of banking and visa restrictions, as well as economic sanctions - that left them feeling so isolated. Iran hopes to ramp up production to 5 mb/d by 2021.

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