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Jul 8, 2024, 1:35pm EDT
Middle East
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Semafor Signals

Iran’s new president could signal future engagement with the West

Insights from Wall Street Journal, AI-Monitor, Critical Threats Project, and Responsible Statecraft

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Iran's president-elect
Majid Asgaripour/West Asia News Agency via Reuters
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The News

Reformist candidate Masoud Pezeshkian won Iran’s presidency on Saturday, fending off hardliner rival Saeed Jalili and pledging to “usher in a new chapter” for the country.

Now President-Elect, Pezekshian is expected to assume his full duties within 30 days, although Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni remains in ultimate control of the country’s future.

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SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Support for Pezeshkian may have stemmed from ‘fear of the worst’

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Sources:  
Wall Street Journal, AI-Monitor

That Pezeshkian was allowed to run at all, having been previously barred by Iran’s Guardian Council, suggests the regime now sees him as a “safe bet.” Compared with ultraconservative Jalili, “[v]otes for [Pezeshkian] were not necessarily hope for the better, but fear of the worst,” a director at conflict abatement non-profit Crisis Group told the Wall Street Journal. By lavishing praise on the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and campaigning on a program of modest social reform, Pezeshkian styled himself as a welcome alternative to hardliners while toeing the regime’s line, AI-Monitor’s Tehran correspondent wrote.

Pezeshkian’s victory opens a small window of opportunity for the West

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Sources:  
Critical Threats Project, Responsible Statecraft

It’s unclear how much leash Khamenei will give Pezeshkian to pursue new nuclear negotiations with the West, given the Supreme Leader’s support for domestic production and a call for the President-Elect to continue his predecessor Ebrahim Raisi’s policies, analysts at the US-based Critical Threats Project wrote. However, it was Iran’s former reformist president, Hassan Rouhani, who helped negotiate the 2015 nuclear deal with the US, a columnist argued in Responsible Statecraft, a publication from US think tank the Quincy Institute — Pezeshkian could do similar. In turn, the US could use his election as a means to restart the dialogue on nuclear and the region at large — conversations that a potential second Trump administration could continue, if only to score political points, he added.

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