Rouhani: A survivor in the snake pit of Tehran

David Patrikarakos writes: Iran’s new president-elect Hassan Rohani is being praised as a “moderate” who might bring change to Iran and transform Tehran’s international relationships. ”What does he want?” is the question most analysts now ask, and, critically, “What can he achieve?”

The answer may be: a great deal. If he is given the right support — domestically and internationally.

For Rohani possesses the single most important qualification for any president in Tehran: He knows how to negotiate the pit of vipers that is Iranian politics.

Rohani has survived for more than 30 years in Tehran. He is the Beria of the Islamic Republic – as able as Laventy Beria to skillfully negotiate the whims of his autocratic masters to safeguard his position at all times.

As a cleric of the Islamic Republic, who followed its founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini into exile in Paris, Rohani is a true child of the Islamic Revolution. Yet he is also, comparatively speaking, a “moderate.”

His first post-election promises to improve Iran’s image are positive — contrasting starkly to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2005 arrival to the world stage with an offensively defiant speech at the United Nations.

Whether Rohani will deliver, however, is another matter.

But he has already vowed to release Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the two reformist leaders held under house arrest since 2011. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is likely loathe to free the men he blames for the unrest that so badly shook the regime in 2009. So this will be Rohani’s first test — of his sincerity and, more importantly, his ability to get things done. [Continue reading…]

Trivial editorial point, but I hope that by the day he takes office, a winner will have emerged between Rohani, Ruhani, Rowhani, and Rouhani. Maybe the deciding factor will be URLs. That of the new president is, whereas belongs to Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Sadeq Hussaini Rohani.

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