Ebrahim Raisi’s appointment to the role of President of the Iranian regime brought fears that his era will result in a surge in the regime’s terrorist activities and the continuation of human rights violations. Considering his choice for government head positions, this fear seems well-founded.
Raisi’s cabinet is poised to a collection of criminals and human rights abusers, who can be expected to move in lockstep toward greater repression of the domestic population and greater export of terrorism at the international community.
The international community needs to create more assertive policies to deal with the regime. Iranian citizens have already shown their disdain for their new President, by boycotting the sham elections long before he was appointed to the position, owing to Raisi’s history of suppressing dissent with violent methods. Iran’s National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) previously reported that the voter turnout for the election was barely 10 percent.
Under orders from the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, Raisi took up the position of judiciary chief in 2019. His appointment came as Khamenei feared a repeat of an anti-government uprising in 2017, and Raisi’s history of extreme brutality in regard to capital punishment made him the ideal candidate in Khamenei’s eyes. Raisi played a major role in the ‘death commission’ in 1988 which led to the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners.
Before and after Raisi’s inauguration, violent crackdowns of protests have been ceaseless, demonstrating that Raisi’s trends and his penchant for brutal punishments for dissent are likely to continue.
Such protests are indicative of tremendous bravery on the part of the Iranian people, especially given that they have little basis for confidence in the international response to Raisi’s presidency.
The attendance of European Union official, Enrique Mora at Raisi’s inauguration has been greatly criticized. It seems yet again that Western authorities are willing to ignore Raisi’s human rights abuses and continue to grant concessions to the regime.
If Western policy continues to emphasize friendly outreach to the Raisi administration after that time, it will effectively be granting the regime impunity not just in matters of accountability for past human rights abuses, but also in matters related to international terrorism, the spread of extremism, and the theft of resources from the Iranian people.
The majority of Raisi’s chosen government heads are members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the regime’s militant forces who violently patrol demonstrations in Iran. Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Raisi’s choice to head the Foreign Ministry, was notably close to Qassem Soleimani, the former terrorist leader of the Quds Force who was killed in a drone strike in Iraq in January 2020.
The proposed head of the Interior Ministry for the regime, Ahmad Vahidi is a former commander in the Quds Force. He is still under warrant by Interpol for his involvement in a bombing in Argentina in 1994 which killed 85 people. He was also involved in a further bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996.
Neither the European Union nor the United States can afford to stand by and let such men take power. Doing so would certainly endanger their own interests by reinforcing Tehran’s sense of impunity.