This month the FBI revealed that they foiled a brazen plot by the government of Iran to kidnap Masih Alinejad from her home in New York. She is an American-Iranian journalist who is a vocal critic of the regime. This happened before the President-elect Ebrahim Raisi takes over and while Iran’s current President Hassan Rouhani is still in office. If this is Iran with a so-called moderate like Rouhani in power, just imagine what Iran and the Middle East will look like after Ebrahim Raisi takes office.
The truth is that elections for president in Iran are not free and open as we know them to be in Western democracies. According to analysis by Middle East expert Karim Sadjapour, “This really was a selection and not an election”. The real power in Iran rests with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Moreover, Sadjapour said that, “Khamenei views Raisi as his potential successor”.
If this is the direction that Iranian leaders wants to take for their country, the choice of Raisi as president does not bode well for the future of peace in the Middle East nor for the human rights situation in Iran. Indeed, Raisi’s selection as Iran’s next president brought to light the crimes against humanity of the Iranian regime. In this regard, Ebrahim Raisi has the blood of thousands of innocent people on his hands.
According to a disturbing report by Amnesty International, “… Ebrahim Raisi had been a member of the ‘death commission’ which forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret thousands of political dissidents in Evin and Gohardasht prisons near Tehran in 1988”.
Raisi operates according to a worldview founded on the revolutionary ideology of the Islamic Republic. In a detailed profile of Raisi on the website of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), Raisi is identified as a “principlist”. This camp of Iranian politics, “… has traditionally sought to retain the country’s Islamist regime and its theocratic, anti-Western ideology, abhorring compromise or engagement with the US”.
Under its current leadership, Iran is already a main factor in causing much of the violence in the Middle East.
Iran’s Middle East strategy calls for supporting the “Axis of Resistance.” Through this strategy, Iran uses proxy forces to “export the Islamic Revolution” and arms them for “resistance” to the very existence of Israel. The goal is to surround Israel with terror proxies like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian proxy forces in Syria and Iraq.
There is no doubt that Ebrahim Raisi is also dedicated to the cause of Israel’s destruction. Three years ago, in a visit by Raisi to Lebanon he toured the border with Israel with top Hezbollah officials. On the tour he said, “Soon we will witness the liberation of Jerusalem.”
Like other Iranian leaders, Raisi’s obsession with the destruction of Israel comes from a deep-seated anti-Semitism.
In a recent article by Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the ADL, he revealed Raisi’s key role in producing a documentary based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Greenblatt wrote, “In 2016, Raisi was appointed by Iran’s supreme leader to direct the Astan Quds Razavi Foundation, in which capacity he oversaw the production of a 50-episode documentary film promoting The Protocols”.
Greenblatt wrote that Raisi continues to spread virulent anti-Semitism. “Last year, he alleged America and “global Zionism” are plotting to subjugate all Muslims, pulling the strings of a global media empire, hatching devious plans in think tanks and conspiring to insult the Prophet Muhammad”.
Beyond Iran’s ongoing conflict with Israel, it’s important to recognize that Iran’s goal of dominating the Middle East by “exporting the Islamic Revolution” has brought widespread poverty and tremendous suffering to the people of the region. Lebanon is a prime example. The once thriving country has now become a failed state.
While there are several causes for Lebanon’s current situation, at the heart of the problem is the pivotal role of Iran’s loyal proxy Hezbollah in the politics of Lebanon. Thanks to Iran, Hezbollah has created a state within a state while becoming a dominant player in the Lebanese political system. The result is that corruption and government mismanagement are rampant in Lebanon causing widespread poverty.
According to an eye-opening report by the NGO CARE, more than half the population of Lebanon is living in poverty. And to make matters much worse, the United Nations warns, “Lebanon’s water supply system is on the verge of total collapse”.
Yet, things in Lebanon and the region could get even worse.
The selection of Ebrahim Raisi as the next president of Iran must be seen as a clear and present danger to the future of the people of the Middle East. As the United States and its European allies negotiate a return to the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), strong leadership will be needed to hold Iran accountable to norms of international behavior. With Ebrahim Raisi as its next president and potential Supreme Leader, the international community must not allow the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to become an even greater threat to peace and human rights.