September 29, 2021

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Iran swears in new hard-line president amid regional tension

Iran has sworn in Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of the country’s supreme leader, as its new president

TEHRAN, Iran — The protégé of Iran’s supreme leader, Ebrahim Raisi, was sworn in as the country’s new president during a ceremony in parliament on Thursday, an inauguration that completes hard-liners’ dominance of all branches of government in the Islamic Republic.

The former judiciary chief known for his distrust of the West takes the reins at a tense time. Iran’s indirect talks with the U.S. to salvage Tehran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal have stalled, as Washington maintains crippling sanctions on the country and regional hostilities simmer.

“The sanctions must be lifted,” Raisi said during his half-hour inauguration speech. “We will support any diplomatic plan that supports this goal.”

Wearing the traditional black turban that identifies him in the Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, Raisi recited the oath of office with his right hand on the Quran.

Raisi, who won a landslide victory in an election that saw the lowest voter turnout in the nation’s history, faces a mountain of problems.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the endorsement ceremony for Raisi on Tuesday advised him to “empower the country’s poor people and improve the national currency” during his presidency.

Amid ongoing sanctions, Iran is grappling with runaway inflation, diminishing revenues, rolling blackouts and water shortages that have sparked scattered protests. Barred from selling its oil abroad, Iran has seen its economy crumble and its currency crash, hitting ordinary citizens hardest.

Raisi, 60, a conservative cleric long cultivated by the supreme leader, has promised to end U.S. sanctions on Iran. But he also has struck a hard-line stance, ruling out negotiations aimed at limiting Iranian missile development and support for regional militias — something the Biden administration wants to address.

The official proceedings in Tehran come just a week after a drone crashed into an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman, killing two crew members. The U.S., Israel and the United Kingdom blamed Iran for the raid and vowed a collective response, with Israel’s defense minister on Thursday even warning the country is ready to strike Iran. Although Tehran denied involvement, the assault escalates a yearslong shadow war targeting commercial shipping in the Mideast and threatens to complicate efforts to revive the nuclear deal.

Thursday’s inauguration ceremony, scaled back because of the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country, still drew leaders and dignitaries from around the world. The presidents of Iraq and Afghanistan flew in for the occasion, along with Enrique Mora, the European Union official who has coordinated the recent nuclear negotiations in Vienna. Senior officials from Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Venezuela and South Korea also attended.

Original News : https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/iran-swears-hard-line-president-amid-regional-tension-79290568

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