Iran’s Dark Horse Candidate for President

“Iran is going through a very critical phase. We are facing serious internal challenges, in the middle of a regional confrontation and on the international level” and nothing is predictable, a political source close to President Hassan Rouhani’s campaign told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Under such circumstances, Iran needs an experienced president, someone who knows how to deal with difficult times. Among all those who are running, the only person ready to continue the job is known to everyone.”

In the latest presidential debate on May 5, candidate Eshaq Jahangiri indirectly criticized Raisi’s candidacy, saying, “A president needs to have experience in dealing with domestic and international issues,” adding that the political landscape of Iran is not a place for a novice.

Raisi’s aide believes his candidate has a comprehensive program for governance in Iran. “Seyed Raisi’s main goal remains to preserve the dignity of Iranians — all Iranians: workers, families, women, men, the elderly and the youth — along with maintaining pride in Iranian identity.” To him, relations with all countries, including both friendly states and adversaries, should preserve Iran’s pride and serve its national interests.

“With respect to international relations, Iran is ready to have good relations with all countries around the world, except for Israel,” said the aide. Asked whether the United States is included, he said, “Our priority with respect to dealing with all countries is respect for our national dignity and pride, and at the same time, our internal ability to solve problems shouldn’t be hampered by excuses such as [lacking] foreign capital and foreign investment. National independence cannot be exchanged for [material] gains.”

He added, “The main slogan of our international relations policy is ‘mutual interests and mutual gains’ for both sides.”

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