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With world watching, Raisi’s cabinet will indicate where he’s taking Iran

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The world is watching closely as new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi assumes office.

It will be looking for any hints on whether he will pursue a highly ideological agenda, with a combative stance toward the West, or whether he will prove surprisingly pragmatic despite his hardline credentials and bloody past.

“No one’s quite sure what will happen,” said Ori Goldberg of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya’s Lauder School of Government.

This lack of clarity might be the reason the European Union sent Enrique Mora, its point man for the Vienna nuclear talks, to Tehran for Raisi’s inauguration.

Israel criticized the move bitterly, calling the gesture a “shameful” display of “poor judgment.”

According to a senior EU official, Mora spoke with the Iranian official designated to take charge of the nuclear talks, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and determined that Iran was ready to resume the negotiations in Vienna, possibly in early September.

He added that it was unclear whether the nuclear talks would remain the responsibility of the Iranian foreign ministry or be taken over by another body heavily influenced by the supreme leader, Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council.

If the EU reports are true, it is certainly an encouraging sign for those looking for a return to the 2015 JCPOA, but is no guarantee that the two sides will find common ground, or that Iran is even looking to compromise at all.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who is ultimately responsible for Iran’s strategic decisions, could be trying to buy more time to advance his country’s nuclear program with another round of talks.

An important indicator of the direction Raisi will take the country will be the makeup of his cabinet.

“This will be a conservative cabinet,” said Raz Zimmt, an Iran scholar at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Raisi has until August 19 to reveal his picks, but is expected to do so earlier at Khamenei’s urging.

The question is how far Raisi will go in creating a hardline government.

“The overwhelming majority of ministers, certainly in the most substantive positions, will be conservatives,” said Goldberg. “The question is whether they will be more traditional conservatives or revolutionary conservatives.”


© The Times of Israel

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