Last week, Ebrahim Raisi, a potential successor to the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, announced his candidacy for the May presidential elections. At this stage, therefore, the two main contenders for the post appear to be current president Hassan Rouhani and Raisi.
Though former firebrand Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered as a candidate this week, he did so in defiance of the Supreme Leader, and it is unclear whether he will remain a viable candidate or survive the watchdog Guardian Council screening.
Some analysts in Washington and elsewhere tend to introduce Raisi as an ally of Supreme Leader Khamenei. Rouhani, they argue, may be a less desirable choice for Khamenei, which means he could act as a counterbalance and, therefore, be a better candidate for the West.
This notion is fundamentally wrong. In 2013, when Rouhani was first elected, he was seen as heading down…
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