The Forum for Partners in Iran's Marketplace

September 2017, No. 85


Rouhani Sworn in for 2nd Term as Iran President

Ayatollah Khamenei advised the 68-year-old chief executive to show greater tolerance for opposing voices.

Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as Iran’s 12th president in the capital Tehran in the presence of the country’s high-ranking officials as well as leaders and senior politicians from around the world.

The inauguration ceremony opened at the Parliament building on Saturday (August 5) with delegates from more than 100 countries, including several heads of state, partaking in it.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani kicked off the ceremony by welcoming all the participants, particularly the foreign dignitaries. He said the participation of more than 72 percent of the Iranian people in the May presidential election showed that they are dedicated to the Islamic establishment.

The top Iranian lawmaker added that the Parliament would support any effort by the next government to remove obstacles in the way of increasing national production and foreign and domestic investment.

Iran Won’t Sit Idle in Face of Non-Compliance with JCPOA

Rouhani then took the oath of office and addressed the session. 

He thanked world leaders and dignitaries for taking part in the swearing-in ceremony. He said the Iranian nation has made great sacrifices in the path of safeguarding freedom and the rule of law, adding that Iranians have put their trust in the Islamic establishment.

He vowed to follow the Iranian nation’s demands and emphasized that his government is ready to defend the country’s national interests. He also said the Iranian government has taken great steps to improve the nation’s health, adding that the level of education and health in Iran is better than many other countries.

Iran, however, is still facing big challenges including water shortage and unemployment, he noted. Rouhani stressed the importance of a strong economy and said the next government eyes economic reforms. He described unity as a key factor behind the Iranian nation’s success and added that Tehran seeks to boost ties with neighboring countries.

The chief executive said regional problems could be solved only through dialogue and cooperation and invited countries in the region to join political initiatives to end the crisis in Yemen.

He stressed the importance of increasing dialogue among governments and nations in order to repel the present “dangerous and complicated” threats. “Increasing constructive interaction with world countries, deepening bonds with neighboring and regional countries and boosting the level of cooperation with friendly countries are not only a wise choice but a necessity,” Rouhani said.

He warned of plots by foreign powers pursuing their self-interests in regional issues, saying they are creating chaos and instability in the Middle East.

Rouhani also warned those present that Washington was trying to sabotage the nuclear accord. Trump’s aggression, said the President, may come to a sticky end: “Those who want to tear up the nuclear deal should know that they will be ripping up their own political life.”

“The US’s repeated violations of its commitments and the new sanctions it imposed on Iran have left a negative impact on public opinion here and this will put the nuclear agreement at risk. Iran would not be the first to pull out of the nuclear deal, but it will not remain silent about the US violations,” he said.

Earlier, in a meeting with Federica Mogherini, the Iranian President praised the high European representation saying that it showed many Western states were prepared to build bridges with his country despite American pressure. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also reportedly said in the meeting: “Trump is trying to destroy the nuclear accord at Iran’s expense, and Europe should be conscious of this.”

After Rouhani’s speech, Larijani wrapped up the session by urging Rouhani to present his Cabinet choices to the Parliament at the earliest for their confirmation hearings to be held.  

Leader Endorses Rouhani as Iran’s President

Resistance Economy is a concept aimed at weaning the country of heavy dependence on oil revenues by boosting production and productivity.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei formally endorsed Rouhani as President, paving the way for him to take office for a second term as the head of Iran’s 12th administration.

During a ceremony on Thursday (August 3), Ayatollah Khamenei gave his official approval for the president-elect by giving him a decree to assign him his duties.

In May, Rouhani won re-election in a landslide after securing 57 percent of the votes and defeating his main contender Ebrahim Raeisi, the current custodian of the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza.

Under Iran’s election law, the president-elect is required to gain the Leader’s official approval before being sworn in before the Parliament (Majlis). Through this process, called Tanfiz (validation), the Leader affirms the outcome of the presidential election.

During August 3 ceremony, Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi-Golpayegani, the head of Ayatollah Khamenei’s office, read out the decree issued by the Leader to the participants. 

Sanctions Helped Iran’s Growth

Addressing the ceremony, the Leader hailed the election process as the symbol of democracy in post-Revolution Iran.

Prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, people were sidelined and prevented from playing a role in running the country’s affairs, Ayatollah Khamenei said.

The Leader urged the new administration to focus its efforts on “establishing justice, siding with the poor and implementing the rules of pure Islam,” adding that authorities should also work to strengthen “national unity.”

Ayatollah Khamenei further said Iranian officials have managed to cooperate with the world despite enemy attempts to isolate the nation. He also called for “extensive interactions with the world as well as broad relations with nations and governments.”

The sanctions imposed on Iran helped the country to grow powerful and self-reliant as the nation turned to the resources and capabilities at home, he added.

“The sanctions, of course, caused problems for the country, but [made us] open our eyes to our own capabilities,” the Leader said. “We used all the enmities to our own benefit.”

He also outlined priorities for President Rouhani in his second term in office, urging him to tackle economic challenges as his foremost priority to ease the livelihood problems of people.

Ayatollah Khamenei further asked the executive branch to “stand strongly against any domination” by hegemonic powers.

The endorsement ceremony was televised live, with top officials, military commanders and foreign ambassadors in attendance.

Rouhani earned a 24-million-vote mandate in the presidential poll, winning by an emphatic 57% over his main rival, principlist Ebrahim Raeisi.

Ayatollah Khamenei advised the 68-year-old chief executive to show greater tolerance for opposing voices.  

“You should allow opponents to criticize, if they have critical views. Tasks are heavy and our shortcomings are not few in number,” he said.

The Leader said the need for greater international engagement should not lead officials to forget hostility of Iran’s adversaries that are bent on destroying the country.

He stressed that Iran should continue to stand powerful in the face of its enemies, particularly the US, which he described as “the most aggressive and shameless” enemy that “uses any excuse to make a fuss” against Iran.

“Four decades of international relations show us that the cost of surrendering to bullying powers surpasses that of standing up against them,” he said.

The endorsement ceremony came less than 24 hours after US President Donald Trump signed a Congress bill slapping a full-fledged package of sanctions on Iran, the first after the July 2015 nuclear deal.  

In his endorsement decree, the Leader said, “The valorous and courageous nation will not leave the servants of the country alone in hard times and in the face of aggression and greed of arrogant powers.” 

12th Administration Set to Fight Poverty

Rouhani also delivered a speech after receiving the endorsement decree, elaborating on his future plans as the chief executive.

He said: “Social justice” and “poverty alleviation” were among the main ideals of the Islamic establishment, adding that the eradication of absolute poverty is one of the objectives of his administration.

The administration, he said, seeks to set the stage for people to exercise their rights, adding that his cabinet would make efforts to “uproot poverty and corruption, contain inflation and facilitate economic growth.” 

Rouhani further called for more investment and access to advanced technologies, stressing that sustainable development is not achievable without reliable plans.

Iran paid the price for its independence and will stand against enemy attempts to isolate the nation, he added, stressing, “We will never accept isolation.” 

He said the country has stood against the “toughest of the sanctions” by taking advantage of a combination of its “diplomatic power” and “deterrence might.”

The President also pointed to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and said “the JCPOA has shown Iran’s goodwill to engage in constructive and effective interactions on the international stage.” 

Economy Tops Agenda

Elaborating on his future plans in the ceremony, Rouhani described his main agenda as “increasing production and employment”, saying his government’s economic plan follows Resistance Economy principles to bring about an “economic revolution”.

Resistance Economy is a concept aimed at weaning the country of heavy dependence on oil revenues by boosting production and productivity.

In his first term, Rouhani said, his team managed to take big steps toward energizing the economy and reducing poverty by “restoring economic stability” and “curbing inflation”, but a lot more needs to be done before the economic situation improves to a level that befits the Iranian nation.

“Eliminating poverty lies in creating jobs and this needs massive investment and access to [foreign] markets and high tech,” he said.

Rouhani reiterated that his second government will insist on broadening “constructive engagement” with the international community more than before.

The moderate cleric appealed for unity, saying people have renewed their allegiance with the system by their strong participation in the presidential vote and “the burden of responsibility is now on our shoulders”. 

“I declare once again that with the conclusion of the election, the time for unity and cooperation has begun,” he said.

“I extend my hand to all those who seek the greatness of the country.” 

US Attempts to Isolate Iran Failing!

The massive turnout of foreign dignitaries in the inauguration ceremony displayed the failure of Iranophobic practices and showed how world countries respect Iran and are eager to have relations with it.

The presence of roughly 500 foreign guests, including 130 high-ranking officials from 105 countries, in the inauguration ceremony was “indicative of the respect that governments and nations have for the Iranian nation,” Speaker Larijani said at the Parliament (August 8).

 “The passionate turnout at the President’s inauguration ceremony indicates that the project aimed at isolating Iran is void and does not go anywhere, and that different countries are interested in having relations with the Islamic Republic,” he added.

The high level of participation, he said, came in spite of constant propagandizing against the Islamic Republic and the massive amounts of money spent on that practice.

The United States’ aggressive attempts to place Iran under economic pressure were also proven null by the massive turnout of the foreign representatives, which indicated international interest in business ties with Tehran, Larijani said.

The respect accorded to Iran by various countries was an achievement in terms of how national interests were served, Larijani said.

Among the VIPs at the inauguration ceremony were the European Union (EU)’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini; Britain’s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt; Danish Deputy Foreign Minister Jonas Bering Liisberg; Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Vincenzo Amendola; Austrian Deputy Parliament Speaker Karlheinz Kopf; and the Netherlands’ former prime minister Wim Kok.

Other senior guests included Iraqi President Fuad Massoum; Afghan President Ashraf Ghani; Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis; Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri; the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of North Korea, Kim Yong-nam; South Korean Parliament Speaker Chung Sye-kyun; South Africa’s Minister of State Security David Mahlobo; and Cuba’s Vice President Ulises Rosales del Toro.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the high level of foreign participation in the President’s inauguration ceremony signified “the world’s new approach toward Iran.”

The turnout was “a clear signal of the defeat of the policy of Iranophobia,” Qassemi said.

Many of the delegations which travelled to Tehran were, however, looking at trade possibilities with the Iranian market opening up following the relaxing of sanctions. Lord Lamont of Lerwick, a long-time campaigner for improving relations with Tehran and now the UK’s trade envoy to Iran, arrived along with the MP Richard Bacon, the vice-chairman of the Britain-Iran Parliamentary Friendship Group.

The US manufacturer Boeing has signed an $8bn (£6.1bn) deal to sell 80 jets to Iran Air and 30 more to another carrier, Aseman Airlines while its European rival Airbus has an agreement to supply another 100 planes to Iran. France’s Total is in a $2bn agreement to develop a gas field and Britain’s General Electric is considering a number of highly lucrative business options. 

A Message for Trump!

But the shadow of Donald Trump remains as Iran strives to open up for business. The US stipulation on the nuclear deal means the President has to certify that Tehran is complying with the agreement every 90 days. Trump, who had promised to tear up the agreement during his election campaign, grudgingly signed off the first certification after the State Department failed to find any breaches but he complained that the Iranians “are not living up to the spirit of the agreement” while failing to explain what this actually means. His administration, he says, is carrying out a “comprehensive review of Iran policy”.

That is still under way as the US administration was again forced to issue the second certification last week that Iran was still complying with its commitments. But, at the same time, Trump said in an interview: “If it was up to me, I would have had them non-compliant 180 days ago.” Asked whether he expected Iran to be non-compliant next time, he declared: “Yes, personally I do.”

The agreement remains, theoretically, even if the US pulls out, with the five other signatories, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, all saying that they would continue with it. But companies and financial institutions are acutely wary of falling foul of US sanctions and incurring swinging financial penalties.


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  September 2017
No. 85