MESOP REPORTS : ‘Undivided Tehran’ (Reza Marashi, Foreign Affairs)

“Although many observers have pointed to rifts between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani, Iranian leaders have made a concerted effort to appear united on policy issues—whether there is a nuclear deal or not. Neither Khamenei nor Rouhani wants disputes between them to go public because it would almost certainly encourage hard-line pressure groups, which have used violence and intimidation to fight the talks. These same groups were instrumental in digging the ditch that the Islamic Republic currently finds itself in. Between 2005 and 2013, they were responsible for propagating offensive rhetoric about the United States and Israel; launching cyberattacks against the West and Israel; supporting terrorist groups, like Hamas and Hezbollah; and advancing the technical aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. The fruits of their labor are clear: an Islamic Republic that was isolated diplomatically, severed from global financial institutions, and whose legitimacy was further eroded in the eyes of its own people. There are more practical reasons for the two men to cooperate as well. It is well understood that Rouhani needs Khamenei’s support to govern effectively, but Westerners drastically underestimate the degree to which Khamenei also needs Rouhani.”