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

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


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 on the time, vowed to dismember corrupt Iranians and praised the Guards for taking pictures down an American drone.

“We is not going to solely lower off the fingers however chop off the arms of the corrupt,” Mr. Raisi mentioned on the time, in response to movies on Iranian media, including that the downing of the drone had helped shift the nation’s temper “to defiance as a substitute 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 campaign widely viewed as engineered to make sure his victory.

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

The US and the European Union have each imposed sanctions on Mr. Raisi over his human rights file, a state of affairs that will make him the primary Iranian president to take the world stage at venues just like the annual United Nations Basic Meeting beneath the cloud of such a designation.

“Because the age of 20, he has been issuing execution orders and jail sentences,” mentioned Hadi Ghaemi, the director of the Middle for Human Rights in Iran, an unbiased New York-based group. “In his tenure as judiciary chief, he has led an in depth repression marketing campaign,” Mr. Ghaemi added. “He has no governing expertise, however very deep ties to the safety and intelligence equipment.”

Mr. Raisi is seen because the almost certainly successor to the omnipotent, 82-year-old supreme chief — who has the ultimate phrase on all vital issues of state. And his election as president may very well be a significant step in his ascent to the highest job.

However Mr. Raisi’s victory will include an asterisk within the eyes of many Iranians who boycotted the election as a protest. A conservative council of clerics near the supreme chief, chargeable 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 beneath American sanctions, which typically would prohibit any dealings with him. These sanctions had been imposed by President Donald J. Trump in a 2019 govt order, which Mr. Biden has not repealed.

Though america has no formal ties with Iran and wouldn’t have interaction instantly with Mr. Raisi as president, the 2 nations are holding talks through intermediaries in Vienna about reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear take care of world powers.

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

He has mentioned that his priorities will likely 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 might result in the removing of financial sanctions which have weighed down Iran’s economic system.

“We are going to put nationwide pursuits first,” Mr. Raisi mentioned in an interview with Iran’s state tv. “We consider that the oppressive sanctions should be lifted and no effort must be spared.”

Mr. Raisi’s opponents fear that he’ll progressively improve social oppression and additional restrict entry to the web and standard apps like Instagram and Clubhouse. Distinguished journalists and activists have mentioned they worry widespread arrests as soon as he takes workplace.

A few of his critics, nonetheless, are extra optimistic, speculating that he may maintain again on imposing restrictions to keep away from upsetting unrest.

Mr. Raisi, who will take workplace in August, started his political profession as an ideological prosecutor and decide, then climbed the ranks to succeed in the nation’s prime judicial workplace.

He was born the son of a cleric within the non secular metropolis of Mashhad in jap Iran. He attended a Shiite theological seminary within the metropolis of Qom at age 15, and opponents have criticized him for not having a proper nonreligious training past sixth grade. His black turban symbolizes that he’s thought of 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 turned the deputy prosecutor of Tehran, ultimately rising to the judiciary’s prime ranks.

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

In 1988, when he was Tehran’s deputy prosecutor normal, Mr. Raisi was implicated in one of many bloodiest episodes within 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 response to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and different organizations. Many had been executed in jail regardless that they’d not been sentenced to dying, in response to rights teams and kin of the useless.

Mr. Raisi addressed these accusations in 2018, saying that the dying sentences had been issued by a decide and upheld by the Supreme Court docket, in response to Iranian information experiences. He mentioned the accusations of rights violations amounted to “rating settling” in opposition to him and the supreme chief on the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“It’s my delight to have fought the wave of opposition, monetary corruption and theft,” Mr. Raisi has mentioned, in response to the experiences.

The American sanctions order mentioned Mr. Raisi was additionally concerned within the regime’s brutal crackdown on Iran’s Inexperienced Motion protests that adopted Iran’s chaotic 2009 presidential election.

A decade later, he was accused of failing to analyze the deadly shootings of a whole bunch of peaceable unarmed demonstrators throughout 2019 nationwide protests over a rise in gas prices. A minimum of 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 people who had been juveniles on the time of their crime and the torture and different merciless, inhuman or degrading therapy or punishment of prisoners in Iran, together with amputations.”

Regardless of 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 decide who was the deputy minister of justice. He has portrayed himself as a Robin Hood of kinds, prepared to search out {powerful} political figures for monetary wrongdoing within the curiosity of serving to the oppressed and injecting hope into society.

Throughout an unsuccessful presidential bid against Hassan Rouhani in 2017, Mr. Raisi presented himself as an anticorruption hero and rallied help among the many poor and the pious by pounding away on 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 firm with dozens of profitable companies. Astan is instantly beneath the management of Mr. Khamenei and is believed to be one among his most vital sources of wealth.

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

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

Ali Vaez, the Iran director for the Worldwide Disaster Group, known as Mr. Raisi a “examined and constant apparatchik” to Mr. Khamenei who wouldn’t problem the supreme chief’s insurance policies or intervene together with his legacy.

“Raisi owes his complete political profession to Khamenei,” Mr. Vaez mentioned.