Kolkata: The newly coronated Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi seems to be making all the right moves contrary to what the rest of the world perceived.
Raisi, infamous for being one of the judges of the Death Committee that ordered the mass execution of political activists in 1988, seems to be in the mood to placate any semblance of acrimony emanating out of his past record.
Two significant steps deserve a mention – Raise is eager to improve relations with France which he has conveyed to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron. Secondly during the course of his parley with India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar, not only has he acknowledged India’s growing influence but has also underscored the necessity of a collaboration between the two nations to mitigate the cataclysm in Afghanistan where the Taliban are making rapid strides capturing one provincial capital after the other.
Raisi baiters must have been taken aback by this benevolence on his part which was never a foregone conclusion. But Raisi’s change of mind stems out of exigency to reach out to the world in a bid to stem the rot, his country is afflicted by.
Iran is reeling under abject economic turmoil courtesy US sanctions over the nuclear deal. Rising unemployment, acute water shortage that led people to hit the streets and power outages have only amplified the turbulence. The previous Hassan Rouhani regime’s abysmal handling of the pandemic leaves Raisi with a daunting task at his disposal. Add to it, the renegotiation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPA) on a nuclear pact that was jolted by the USA’s unilateral exit in 2018 culminating in stringent sanctions that have beleaguered the Islamic country’s economy.
With so much at stake, Raisi can ill afford to be obstinate but instead look for bolstering relations with countries like China, Russia, India, the EU and others. Such overtures would ameliorate Iran’s image globally. Relations with Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries in the region also need a relook. Accusations of complicity in drone attacks on an Israeli ship off the coast of Oman and commandeering a ship off the UAE coast can be a dampener. And Raisi is not oblivious to it.
Burying the hatchet with its foes is a must if the nuclear deal, the bone of all contentions has to be restored and Raisi cannot shirk the responsibility.
But can we trust this man? It would be too nascent a stage to nod in the affirmative.
A favourite of the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, it would be witless to hope Raisi would endear himself to all and sundry. He has already made it clear that his country’s interests are of paramount importance and this is where the challenge of the international community lies.
But Raisi needs to expedite the process of bringing his country out of semi-isolation lest should it be another North Korea. The son of a cleric has made the first move, it is left to us to reciprocate of course with an air of caution.
The rest of the world needs Iran as much as Iran needs us. President Joe Biden, are you there?