Ibrahim Raisi is, as was expected already, the winner of the presidential election in Iran.
Raisi was handpicked by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is nicknamed ‘The Butcher of Tehran.’
The new Iranian president is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians and was appointed Iran’s judiciary chief in 2019 by Khamenei.
Raisi was a member of the so-called ‘death commission,’ a body that oversaw the disappearing and secret executions of thousands of political prisoners in Iran.
In 2019, the United States slapped sanctions on Raisi for his role in the mass executions and for his role in the crackdowns on Iranian protesters that plagued the Islamist regime repeatedly. Raisi had been the chief prosecutor of Tehran before he became the head of Iran’s judiciary.
Amnesty International has called for Raisi to be charged with crimes against humanity, and so have other human rights organizations.
Bad news for Israel
His victory in the Iranian presidential election – Raisi won 17.9 million of the 28.9 million ballots counted, according to Iran’s Interior Ministry – is bad news for Israel, which reacted with sharp-worded statements by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
“Iran’s new president, known as the Butcher of Tehran, is an extremist responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians,” Lapid wrote on his Twitter account. He added that Raisi’s election “should prompt renewed determination to immediately halt Iran’s nuclear program and put an end to its destructive regional ambitions.”
Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made an equally sharp-worded statement during the first cabinet meeting of his government.
“A regime of executioners cannot have weapons of mass destruction,” Bennett said, adding that “Raisi’s election as president of Iran is a signal to world powers that they need to wake up. This may be a last-minute warning before returning to the Iran nuclear deal. They must understand who they’re doing business with and what kind of regime they are choosing to strengthen.”
By saying this, Bennett made clear he will continue former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policy of pressuring the six world powers that in 2015 closed the nuclear agreement with Iran. The wording of his statement, furthermore, indicated that he, without naming the US, warned the Biden Administration against rejoining the nuclear deal with Iran.
The United States under current President Joe Biden is currently negotiating with Iran over a return to this deal, which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Biden, however, seems to be unfazed by Raisi’s election win and continues to negotiate a recommitment to the JCPOA by both the US and Iran.
Iran reported over the weekend that progress had been made in these negotiations behind closed doors and expects that an agreement with the Biden Administration will be reached within weeks.
The US reportedly wants Iran to destroy its new generation of uranium enrichment centrifuges in exchange for sanctions relief under a new agreement with the Islamic Republic. This could ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be set back by a few years.
Dangerously close to a nuclear weapon
Iran is currently enriching uranium hexafluoride up to 60 percent, a level that, according to experts and the International Atom Energy Agency, will enable Iran to break out to its first nuclear weapon in less than two years.
Reaching a level of 90 percent enrichment will be the first step to build a nuclear weapon and, according to Israeli military experts Iran could reach this level of enrichment within three months. Thereafter the Iranians will have to work on the production of a nuclear warhead that fits its long-range ballistic missiles.
Not just about nukes
Israeli leaders want the US to address the Iranian expansionist policies in the Middle East and Iran’s vowed intention to destroy the Jewish state in the ongoing negotiations with the Islamic Republic.
Iran is currently trying to use the unprecedented crisis in Lebanon to take over the country and has already ensured that Iraq is in its orbit.
The same is true for Syria, where the Iranians have a very strong presence and brought in foreign Shiite militias to build-up the so-called ‘Golan Liberation Brigade,’ a large force that must open a third front against Israel in case of a multi-front war against the Jewish state.
In Yemen, Iran delivers attack drones and long-range missiles to the Ansar Allah, or Houthi militia. The long-range missiles will not only be used against Saudi Arabia the terror organization has stated in the past, but also against Israel in the future.
Ansar Allah frequently attacks Saudi Arabia and just sent six with explosives-packed drones to the Kingdom. According to Saudi media, all of the drones were shot down.
Iran’s new president is expected to continue the expansionist policies of his predecessors and is expected to use sanction relief to increase the funding of terror organizations such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Ansar Allah.
Some commentators say that Raisi is nothing more than a “smokescreen” and that Khamenei is still calling the shots on all key issues in Iran. That may be true but Raisi is more than a smokescreen. He represents the extremists in the Iranian regime and is reportedly Khamenei’s favorite choice for becoming the next Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic.
The 81-year-old Iranian Supreme Leader is reportedly not in good health and handpicked Raisi because he wanted to be sure that his successor will keep the Islamic Revolution alive and will continue Iran’s drive to take over the Middle East.