Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Roadblock for Iran’s President-Elect: He’s on the U.S. Sanctions List

At a 2019 rally for commanders of Iran’s {powerful} Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Ebrahim Raisi, the conservative head of the nation’s judicial system at the time, vowed to dismember corrupt Iranians and praised the Guards for capturing down an American drone.

“We will not only cut off the fingers but chop off the arms of the corrupt,” Mr. Raisi stated at the time, in accordance with movies on Iranian media, including that the downing of the drone had helped shift the nation’s temper “to defiance instead of negotiations.”

Now Mr. Raisi, a 60-year-old hard-line cleric and shut ally of the nation’s supreme chief, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has been elected president after a marketing campaign extensively considered as engineered to make sure his victory.

For the previous 18 months, the president-elect has served as the head of Iran’s judiciary, regardless that rights teams say he has a well-documented report of grave human rights violations over the previous three a long time, each earlier than and through his time at the helm of the judiciary. He has been accused of taking part in a job in sending hundreds of political prisoners to their deaths in the Eighties, and in deadly crackdowns on antigovernment protests in 2009 and 2019.

The United States and the European Union have each imposed sanctions on Mr. Raisi over his human rights report, a state of affairs that may make him the first Iranian president to take the world stage at venues like the annual United Nations General Assembly below the cloud of such a designation.

“Since the age of 20, he has been issuing execution orders and prison sentences,” stated Hadi Ghaemi, the director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, an unbiased New York-based group. “In his tenure as judiciary chief, he has led an extensive repression campaign,” Mr. Ghaemi added. “He has no governing experience, but very deep ties to the security and intelligence apparatus.”

Mr. Raisi is considered as the most definitely successor to the omnipotent, 82-year-old supreme chief — who has the remaining phrase on all vital issues of state. And his election as president may very well be a serious step in his ascent to the high job.

But Mr. Raisi’s victory will include an asterisk in the eyes of many Iranians who boycotted the election as a protest. A conservative council of clerics near the supreme chief, accountable for vetting presidential candidates, eradicated all different rivals who may have posed a critical problem forward of Friday’s voting.

His victory may additionally pose an ungainly predicament for the Biden administration, as a result of he has been blacklisted below American sanctions, which typically would prohibit any dealings with him. Those sanctions had been imposed by President Donald J. Trump in a 2019 govt order, which Mr. Biden has not repealed.

Although the United States has no formal ties with Iran and wouldn’t have interaction instantly with Mr. Raisi as president, the two nations are holding talks via intermediaries in Vienna about reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear cope with world powers.

Mr. Raisi has deep ties to Iran’s clerical hierarchy and enjoys sturdy help from the safety equipment, together with the elite Revolutionary Guards drive. He is predicted to face by the supreme chief’s hard-line conservative insurance policies.

He has stated that his priorities can be preventing corruption, bettering folks’s livelihoods and offering mass Covid-19 vaccinations. He has additionally indicated a willingness to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, one thing that would result in the elimination of financial sanctions which have weighed down Iran’s economic system.

“We will put national interests first,” Mr. Raisi stated in an interview with Iran’s state tv. “We believe that the oppressive sanctions must be lifted and no effort should be spared.”

Thanking voters in a press release Saturday, he additionally pledged to kind a authorities that “will move toward social justice as a pillar of the Islamic revolution.”

Mr. Raisi’s opponents fear that he’ll regularly improve social oppression and additional restrict entry to the web and standard apps like Instagram and Clubhouse. Prominent journalists and activists have stated they concern widespread arrests as soon as he takes office.

Some of his critics, nevertheless, are extra optimistic, speculating that he would possibly maintain again on imposing restrictions to keep away from upsetting unrest.

Mr. Raisi, who will take office in August, started his political career as an ideological prosecutor and choose, then climbed the ranks to succeed in the nation’s high judicial office.

He was born the son of a cleric in the non secular metropolis of Mashhad in japanese Iran. He attended a Shiite theological seminary in the metropolis of Qom at age 15, and opponents have criticized him for not having a proper nonreligious schooling past sixth grade. His black turban symbolizes that he’s thought-about a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

He rode the coattails of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the monarchy in 1979 by displaying ideological loyalty and a willingness to go to nice lengths to make sure the Islamic theocracy’s survival. He served as a prosecutor in a number of cities, and in 1985 grew to become the deputy prosecutor of Tehran, finally rising to the judiciary’s high ranks.

Throughout Mr. Raisi’s rise to energy, Iranian and worldwide rights teams have accused him of significant violations — a number of of them cited in the 2019 U.S. sanctions order.

In 1988, when he was Tehran’s deputy prosecutor common, Mr. Raisi was implicated in one in every of the bloodiest episodes in the historical past of the Islamic Republic. He sat on a four-man committee that despatched about 5,000 imprisoned authorities opponents to their deaths, in accordance with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and different organizations. Many had been executed in jail regardless that that they had not been sentenced to loss of life, in accordance with rights teams and kinfolk of the lifeless.

Mr. Raisi addressed these accusations in 2018, saying that the loss of life sentences had been issued by a choose and upheld by the Supreme Court, in accordance with Iranian information reviews. He stated the accusations of rights violations amounted to “score settling” in opposition to him and the supreme chief at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“It is my pride to have fought the wave of opposition, financial corruption and theft,” Mr. Raisi has stated, in accordance with the reviews.

The American sanctions order stated Mr. Raisi was additionally concerned in the regime’s brutal crackdown on Iran’s Green Movement protests that adopted Iran’s chaotic 2009 presidential election.

A decade later, he was accused of failing to research the deadly shootings of a whole lot of peaceable unarmed demonstrators throughout 2019 nationwide protests over an increase in gasoline costs. At least 7,000 protesters had been arrested, tortured and sentenced to harsh jail phrases by the judiciary that Mr. Raisi led, rights teams say.

The American decision to impose sanctions accused Mr. Raisi of “administrative oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations.”

Despite the weighty accusations in opposition to him, Mr. Raisi has many supporters who reward his crackdown on corruption as judiciary chief, together with placing on trial a distinguished choose who was the deputy minister of justice. He has portrayed himself as a Robin Hood of types, prepared to seek out {powerful} political figures for monetary wrongdoing in the curiosity of serving to the oppressed and injecting hope into society.

During an unsuccessful presidential bid in opposition to Hassan Rouhani in 2017, Mr. Raisi introduced himself as an anticorruption hero and rallied help amongst the poor and the pious by pounding away at the theme of inequality.

From 2016 to 2017, he ran Astan Quds Razavi, overseeing an unlimited, rich non secular basis that features a holy shrine, a charity wing and a holding company with dozens of profitable companies. Astan is instantly below the management of Mr. Khamenei and is believed to be one in every of his most important sources of wealth.

Mr. Raisi is married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, the daughter of a spiritual hard-liner, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda. Her father, who leads Friday prayers in Mashhad, was appointed by Mr. Khamenei and has enforced ultraconservative laws in the japanese province of Khorasan, together with a ban on dwell musical performances and on girls’s using bicycles.

Mr. Raisi’s spouse is an affiliate professor of schooling at a distinguished college, they usually have two grownup daughters — one a sociologist, the different a physicist — and two grandchildren.

Ali Vaez, the Iran director for the International Crisis Group, known as Mr. Raisi a “tested and loyal apparatchik” to Mr. Khamenei who wouldn’t problem the supreme chief’s insurance policies or intervene along with his legacy.

“Raisi owes his entire political career to Khamenei,” Mr. Vaez stated.