President Raissi's inauguration coincides with the supreme leader's criticism of the Vienna negotiations with the Americans

Raisi, ratified Iranian president shows his distrust of the West

Raisí, ratificado presidente de Irán exhibe su desconfianza hacia Occidente

The ultraconservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who was ratified as Iran's new president on Tuesday, showed his distrust of the West at a time of escalating tension with the United States and other countries. 

In contrast to the openness that characterised his predecessor, the moderate Hasan Rohaní, during whose first term in office the historic 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Raisí is inclined to focus on internal capacities and relations with neighbouring countries.

This idea of not relying on the West is based on the sanctions imposed by the US after its unilateral withdrawal in 2018 from the nuclear deal, which it is now trying to reinstate through negotiations in Vienna.

AFP PHOTO / HO / KHAMENEI.IR - El líder supremo de Irán, el ayatolá Alí Jamenei
A complex balance 

"We will of course seek the removal of cruel sanctions, but we will not condition the economy and the needs of the population on the will of foreigners," Raisi, who is de facto sanctioned by the US, stressed in a speech at his ratification ceremony.

The negotiations, which are aimed at securing Washington's return to the agreement and the lifting of its sanctions, as well as Tehran's compliance with all its commitments, have been put on hold due to the transfer of power in Iran. 

The US has already made it clear that negotiations cannot remain at this impasse for long, although it continues to advocate the diplomatic route, despite the increased tension in recent days following the 29 July attack on a tanker operated by an Israeli firm.

The attack killed one British and one Romanian crew member, and Israel, the US, the UK and Romania have all blamed Iran, which has denied any involvement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken yesterday promised "a collective response" to the drone attack off the coast of Oman.

In addition to dealing with these crises internationally, Raisi also faces a myriad of domestic challenges, as the economic crisis and electricity and water shortages have recently sparked popular protests in the country.

PHOTO/DELEGACIÓN DE LA UE EN VIENA - El secretario general adjunto del Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior (SEAE), Enrique Mora, y el adjunto iraní en el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Abbas Araghchi
The population wants "a change"

According to the rigorist cleric, who until recently was the head of the judiciary, "what the population wants from the new government is change" and a solution to pressing problems such as the budget deficit, inflation, the COVID-19 pandemic and electricity and water cuts, among others.

"The message of the citizens in the elections was a call for justice, for fighting corruption and poverty, and for implementing the policies of the Islamic Republic system and the values of the Revolution," Raisi added. 

The cleric won nearly 62 percent of the vote in June's elections, which were marked by a lack of real competition and a low turnout, which at 48 percent was the lowest of any presidential election in Iran.

Raisi's ascension to the presidency is seen as another step in his meteoric rise to succeed supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who appointed Raisi to his two previous posts and today confirmed his election as chief executive.

Khamenei noted in his decree of approval that the new president has "a brilliant record of management to continue the luminous path of the (1979 Islamic) Revolution".

PHOTO/DELEGACIÓN DE LA UE EN VIENA - El secretario general adjunto del Servicio Europeo de Acción Exterior (SEAE), Enrique Mora, y el adjunto iraní en el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Abbas Araghchi

Rapid formation of the government 

In a speech at the ceremony, attended by the country's top political and military authorities, the supreme leader said that "the change of power creates hope" among the population and urged the formation of the new government "as soon as possible".

"The conditions in the country demand that the formation of the government should not be delayed. Both the president and the parliament must hurry to present and accept the ministers," he said.

He also advised Raisi to maintain his popularity by fighting corruption and "being among the people, without class or political group privileges".

Iran's economy is in the doldrums and the national currency is sharply devalued against the dollar because of US sanctions, but also because of poor internal management and corruption.

Rohani today handed over the office of the presidency to Raisi and the inauguration ceremony before parliament will be held on Thursday 5 August in the presence of foreign delegations.