Analysis & Opinions - Iran Matters

Khamenei Turns Up Heat on Rouhani

| May 02, 2017

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stepped up his criticism of President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday, suggesting Iranians “should not thank [Rouhani’s] policy of detente with the West for any reduction in the threat of war,” Bozorgmehr Sharafedin reports for Reuters.


“In comments that appeared to favor hardline candidates in the May 19 vote, Khamenei played down the benefits of Rouhani's landmark agreement to curb Iran's nuclear activities in return for a lifting of international sanctions.” Payam Mohseni, Iran Project Director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center, writes for CNN Fareed Zakaria's Global Briefing that Khamenei’s remarks should be seen as a rebuff of the Rouhani campaign’s efforts to tie the country’s security to the nuclear deal, rather than as criticism of the deal itself.


“Khamenei’s statements will partially undercut the effectiveness of Rouhani’s messaging, but its actual impact on the discourse of the election campaign remains to be seen,” Mohseni says.

“Much will depend on how the remaining two presidential debates play out and the wider narratives that the candidates forge, particularly conservative candidates Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf and Ebrahim Raisi. Based on the first presidential debate, Rouhani’s rivals seem intent on focusing on the president’s economic weaknesses and his lack of attention to inequality and the ‘downtrodden’ classes.


“Why does that matter? Because it picks up a key theme that propelled former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the presidency.”

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For Academic Citation: Mohseni, Payam.“Khamenei Turns Up Heat on Rouhani.” Iran Matters, May 2, 2017.