Sunday , 14 July 2024

Is Khamenei’s praise for Raisi a message to the new president?

iranintl – In a meeting with the outgoing government, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, lavished praise on the late president Ebrahim Raisi, stating that “he was an exemplary model of management,” for all officials.

Khamenei’s remarks came just one day after he told the newly elected Masoud Pezeshkian to follow in Raisi’s footsteps. Although the president-elect has vowed not to propose any major plans and execute Khamenei’s vision, he has also criticized certain policies and actions pursued in the past three years by the Raisi administration.

In this meeting, which was the final gathering of the members of the Raisi government, Khamenei described the administration as the “government of work, hope, and progress.” He said, “Martyr Raisi was truly hopeful and rightfully optimistic about the future, and he was determined to achieve the outlined goals.”

Ebrahim Raisi, a cleric backed by hardliners and elected in June 2021 in a highly stage-managed election, was killed in a helicopter crash in May. So far, no clear cause for the incident has been provided.

Khamenei’s praise for the former president contradicts his administration’s poor record in managing the economy and its conduct during anti-government protests in 2022-2023, when security forces killed around 550 civilians, injured hundreds more and arrested 22,000 people.

The Iranian currency doubled its losses in less than three years during Raisi sinking to more than 600,000 rials per US dollar. This worsened inflation, especially for food and consumer necessities while the government was unable to meaningfully boost salaries. Monthly wages for ordinary workers has remained below $200, impoverishing tens of millions of people.

When Raisi was elected, there was some hope for a nuclear agreement with the United States and European powers that could have lifted crippling US sanctions. Negotiations had been underway in Vienna since April 2021, but the talks paused for nearly six months. When they resumed in November of that year, they ultimately failed in 2022.

This left Iran struggling with a deepening economic crisis. While it is widely that Khamenei determines foreign policy issues and the president has little say in strategic issues, Raisi praised the Leader’s wisdom and continued to preach s3lf-reliance and closer relations with Russia and China.

This was perhaps what Khamenei valued most as he praised Raisi’s deep belief in domestic capabilities on Sunday. “We have talked about this with officials at various times, and no one disagreed with this appraisal; however, one could see that Raisi genuinely believed in the domestic capacities and capabilities to solve the country’s problems.”

However, the fact was that even many conservative politicians began criticizing Raisi early in his term for mismanagement and a lack of ability to make changes necessary to alleviate economic pressures.

While suspicions linger among many Iranians about the helicopter crash that killed Raisi, Khamenei and his ideological establishment do their utmost to present him as a hero and a martyr.

Khamenei in his speech even tried to credit Raisi with a project to transport sea water to Iran’s arid interior, a lofty plan that preceded the later president and will probably remain on paper for years to come.

In the concluding part of his speech, Khamenei delivered remarks that many will interpret as a message to the new president: These characteristics were highlighted to establish a model and to be recorded in history, demonstrating that the head of the executive branch can possess a collection of intellectual, heartfelt, and practical virtues and can pursue them in both governance and personal conduct.