News / Middle East

    Former Nuclear Negotiator Joins Iran's Presidential Race

    FILE - Hassan Rohani, center, during a meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Nov. 17, 2003.
    FILE - Hassan Rohani, center, during a meeting at the European Council building in Brussels, Nov. 17, 2003.
    Reuters
    A former Iranian nuclear negotiator announced on Thursday he would run for president, the most moderate contender so far to bid to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a June election dominated by conservatives.
     
    Hassan Rohani, 64, was head of the powerful Supreme National Security Council under presidents Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, considered a master of realpolitik rather than an ideologue, and Mohammad Khatami, who pushed for wide-ranging social and political reforms.

    Rohani, a Muslim cleric, presided over talks with Britain, France and Germany that saw Iran agree to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities between 2003 and 2005.

    He resigned after Ahmadinejad took office in August that year. The nuclear work was resumed and Rohani was derided for being too accommodating in negotiations.

    During Ahmadinejad's two terms in office, tensions with the West over Iran's nuclear program have worsened, with the United States and Europe imposing sanctions on its oil and banks over suspicions Tehran is seeking atomic arms, which it denies.
     
    "We need a new management for the country but not based on quarrelling, inconsistency and eroding domestic capacity, but through unity, consensus and attracting honest and efficient people," Rohani told a gathering of supporters on Thursday, Iran's Mehr news agency reported.

    The June election is Iran's first presidential poll since 2009 when mass street protests erupted against Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election.

    The defeated reformist candidates in that election, Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who became figureheads for the "Green movement" - which mounted Iran's biggest street protests since the Islamic revolution in 1979 -  have been under house arrest for more than two years.

    It is unclear whether the Guardian Council, a state body that can veto candidates, will allow reformists to run, but barring too many contenders risks destroying public interest in a vote which bolsters Iran's claims to democratic legitimacy.

    "Straighforward Servant"

    A former Western ambassador to Iran who had dealings with Rohani during the Khatami administration described him as "approachable and no-nonsense," likely to be "a calm, orthodox, efficient and straightforward servant ... and less a charismatic or an independent figure."

    With nuclear policy directed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than the president, the election is not likely to produce any tangible policy shift there.

    "My government will be one of prudence and hope and my message is about saving the economy, reviving ethics and interaction with the world," Rohani said in a critique of Ahmadinejad's economic record. "Inflation is above 30 percent, the reduction in the value of the national currency, unemployment and zero economic growth are among the country's problems."

    While Rafsanjani was not present for the announcement, his son and daughter, Yasser and Fatemeh Hashemi, attended the event, an apparent indication of the former president's support for Rohani, his long-serving protege.

    Also attending Rohani's announcement was Mahmoud Alavi, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, the body responsible for overseeing the actions of supreme leader Khamenei - indicating he has some status inside Iran's establishment.

    Hooman Majd, a New York-based Iranian-American journalist and author, said Rohani -  head of an Iranian think-tank, the Center for Strategic Research - might attract some voters looking for change, without being radical enough to risk being banned.

    "Rohani has been a loyal soldier of Khamenei and is not considered a threat to the system. I think it would be too much for the Guardian Council to disqualify someone like that," Majd said. "Rohani's not a personality people know very well but he could be viable with support from the Rafsanjani camp and a modern youthful campaign."

    Khamenei's close advisers plan to put forward their own candidate, hoping to minimize the chances of the next president mounting challenges to the leader's authority, as they accuse Ahmadinejad of doing, especially during his second term.

    Khamenei loyalists accuse Ahmadinejad of trying to erode the influence of the clergy and the supreme leader and fear he will try to extend his political influence after his final term ends in June by helping a close ally win the election.

    The most likely candidate from the Ahmadinejad camp is his former chief of staff, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, but there has been no official word so far on whether he will try to run.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora