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

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

“We will not only cut off the fingers but chop off the arms of the corrupt,” Mr. Raisi mentioned at the time, based on movies on Iranian media, including that the downing of the drone had helped shift the nation’s temper “to defiance instead 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 marketing campaign extensively considered as engineered to ensure his victory.

For the previous 18 months, the president-elect has served as the head of Iran’s judiciary, regardless that rights teams say he has a well-documented report of grave human rights violations over the previous three many years, each earlier than and through his time at the helm of the judiciary. He has been accused of enjoying a task in sending hundreds of political prisoners to their deaths in the 1980s, and in deadly crackdowns on antigovernment protests in 2009 and 2019.

The United States and the European Union have each imposed sanctions on Mr. Raisi over his human rights report, a scenario that might make him the first Iranian president to take the world stage at venues like the annual United Nations General Assembly underneath the cloud of such a designation.

“Since the age of 20, he has been issuing execution orders and prison sentences,” mentioned Hadi Ghaemi, the director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran, an impartial New York-based group. “In his tenure as judiciary chief, he has led an extensive repression campaign,” Mr. Ghaemi added. “He has no governing experience, but very deep ties to the security and intelligence apparatus.”

Mr. Raisi is considered as the almost definitely successor to the omnipotent, 82-year-old supreme chief — who has the remaining phrase on all necessary issues of state. And his election as president might be a significant step in his ascent to the prime job.

But Mr. Raisi’s victory will include an asterisk in the eyes of many Iranians who boycotted the election as a protest. A conservative council of clerics near the supreme chief, accountable for vetting presidential candidates, eradicated all different rivals who might have posed a severe problem forward of Friday’s voting.

His victory might additionally pose an ungainly predicament for the Biden administration, as a result of he has been blacklisted underneath American sanctions, which typically would prohibit any dealings with him. Those sanctions have been imposed by President Donald J. Trump in a 2019 government order, which Mr. Biden has not repealed.

Although the United States has no formal ties with Iran and wouldn’t have interaction straight with Mr. Raisi as president, the two international locations 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 assist from the safety equipment, together with the elite Revolutionary Guards pressure. He is predicted to face by the supreme chief’s hard-line conservative insurance policies.

He has mentioned that his priorities will likely be preventing corruption, enhancing individuals’s livelihoods and offering mass Covid-19 vaccinations. He has additionally indicated a willingness to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, one thing that would result in the removing of financial sanctions which have weighed down Iran’s economic system.

“We will put national interests first,” Mr. Raisi mentioned in an interview with Iran’s state tv. “We believe that the oppressive sanctions must be lifted and no effort should be spared.”

Thanking voters in a press release Saturday, he additionally pledged to kind a authorities that “will move toward social justice as a pillar of the Islamic revolution.”

Mr. Raisi’s opponents fear that he’ll step by step improve social oppression and additional restrict entry to the web and well-liked apps like Instagram and Clubhouse. Prominent journalists and activists have mentioned they concern widespread arrests as soon as he takes workplace.

Some of his critics, nonetheless, are extra optimistic, speculating that he would possibly 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 choose, then climbed the ranks to succeed in the nation’s prime judicial workplace.

He was born the son of a cleric in the spiritual metropolis of Mashhad in jap Iran. He attended a Shiite theological seminary in the metropolis of Qom at age 15, and opponents have criticized him for not having a proper nonreligious schooling 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 grew to become the deputy prosecutor of Tehran, finally rising to the judiciary’s prime ranks.

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

In 1988, when he was Tehran’s deputy prosecutor normal, Mr. Raisi was implicated in one among the bloodiest episodes in 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, based on Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and different organizations. Many have been executed in jail regardless that they’d not been sentenced to loss of life, based on rights teams and family of the lifeless.

Mr. Raisi addressed these accusations in 2018, saying that the loss of life sentences had been issued by a choose and upheld by the Supreme Court, based on Iranian information reviews. He mentioned the accusations of rights violations amounted to “score settling” in opposition to him and the supreme chief at the time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

“It is my pride to have fought the wave of opposition, financial corruption and theft,” Mr. Raisi has mentioned, based on the reviews.

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

A decade later, he was accused of failing to research the deadly shootings of a whole bunch of peaceable unarmed demonstrators throughout 2019 nationwide protests over a rise in gas prices. At least 7,000 protesters have 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 individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations.”

Despite 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 choose who was the deputy minister of justice. He has portrayed himself as a Robin Hood of types, prepared to seek out {powerful} political figures for monetary wrongdoing in the curiosity of serving to the oppressed and injecting hope into society.

During an unsuccessful presidential bid against Hassan Rouhani in 2017, Mr. Raisi presented himself as an anticorruption hero and rallied assist amongst the poor and the pious by pounding away at the theme of inequality.

From 2016 to 2017, he ran Astan Quds Razavi, overseeing an enormous, rich spiritual basis that features a holy shrine, a charity wing and a holding firm with dozens of profitable companies. Astan is straight underneath the management of Mr. Khamenei and is believed to be one among his most important sources of wealth.

Mr. Raisi is married to Jamileh Alamolhoda, the daughter of a spiritual hard-liner, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda. Her father, who leads Friday prayers in Mashhad, was appointed by Mr. Khamenei and has enforced ultraconservative rules in 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 schooling at a distinguished college, and so they have two grownup daughters — one a sociologist, the different a physicist — and two grandchildren.

Ali Vaez, the Iran director for the International Crisis Group, referred to as Mr. Raisi a “tested and loyal apparatchik” to Mr. Khamenei who wouldn’t problem the supreme chief’s insurance policies or intervene together with his legacy.

“Raisi owes his entire political career to Khamenei,” Mr. Vaez mentioned.

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