Iran elects a hardliner already under US sanctions as its new president

Joe Biden’s appeasement of Iran is working out about as well as appeasement usually does.  The Biden administration has been reaching out to Iran by moving to reinstate the JCPOA nuclear deal that President Trump pulled out of, and by withdrawing troops, aircraft, and anti-missile batteries from the Middle East, where they primarily defended against Iranian aggression.

And now, in response, the people that run Iran’s elections have announced the winner of Friday’s presidential election.  

Iran’s hardline judiciary chief won the country’s presidential election in a landslide victory Saturday, propelling the supreme leader’s protégé into Tehran’s highest civilian position in a vote that appeared to see the lowest turnout in the Islamic Republic’s history.

Ebrahim Raisi was elected president with 61.95 percent of the vote, according to figures released by Interior Minister Aboldreza Rahmani Fazli.

Voter turnout was 48.8 percent of the more than 59 million eligible voters in Friday’s election, he said, a record low for a presidential election in the Islamic republic.

Ebrahim Raisi [Fox News screengrab (cropped)]

Iranian dissidents overseas mock the election as a sham:

"Despite astronomical rigging and falsifying the vote tally, the dimensions of the popular boycott were so extensive that the regime succumbed to announcing a lower than 49 percent turnout, plainly admitting that the majority of Iranian people boycotted the sham election and testified to its illegitimacy," the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) President-elect Maryam Rajavi said in a statement.

Khamenei’s Guardian Council had disqualified a number of candidates who could compete with Raisi, including a number of moderate and reform candidates -- causing even hardliners such as former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to join calls for a boycott. The State Department told Fox News last week that Iranians "should be allowed to exercise their right to choose their own leaders in free and fair elections."

Keep in mind that the real political power in Iran belongs to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, so Raisi’s election is perhaps more symbolic than substantive.

Raisi previously served as prosecutor general of Tehran between 1989 and 1994 as well as the first deputy head of the judiciary between 2004 and 2014. The U.S. government has noted his involvement in what it described as a "brutal" crackdown on Iran’s Green Movement protesters following the 2009 election.

Dissidents have zeroed in on his role in a "death commission" that ordered the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Iranian political prisoners were asked to identify themselves and those who responded "mujahedeen" were sent to their deaths, while others were questioned about their willingness to "clear minefields for the army of the Islamic Republic," according to a 1990 Amnesty International report. Estimates for how many were killed range from 5,000 to 30,000.

When Raisi was appointed head of the judiciary in 2019, then-deputy State Department spokesman Robert Palladino called the move a "disgrace."

"Ebrahim Raeesi, involved in mass executions of political prisoners, was chosen to lead #Iran’s judiciary. What a disgrace!" he tweeted. "The regime makes a mockery of the legal process by allowing unfair trials and inhumane prison conditions. Iranians deserve better!"

All that outreach by the Biden administration has strengthened the hand of the hardliners, who respond to weakness and see no reason to soften anything to gain favors from the Americans.

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