Hardline cleric and former head of the judiciary Ebrahim Raisi was officially sworn in as the new President of Iran in the country’s parliament in Tehran on Thursday. The heads of all major branches of government were in attendance, as well as top military officials during the televised ceremony, including representatives from over 80 countries, according to regional media. Hezbollah and Hamas representatives were also seen in attendance, ironically sitting just in front of a top EU official.
Raisi won over 60% of the votes in the July national election, and is seen as a close ally of the Ayatollah. He said in his inaugural speech and transfer of power from the more 'moderate' Hassan Rouhani, who stepped down due to term limits, that "The policy of pressure and sanctions will not cause the nation of Iran to back down from following up on its legal rights."
However, his general 'resistance' message was coupled with allowing diplomacy with both the US and Saudi Arabia, in hopes that Washington will soon lift sanctions, also as stalled nuclear negotiations in Vienna are set to continue into their seventh round this month.
"The sanctions must be lifted," he emphasized. "We will support any diplomatic plan that supports this goal," he said during the half-hour address.
But then as The Times of Israel relates he also vowed expansion of Iranian influence in the region to protect and provide justice for the "oppressed":
"Wherever there is oppression and crime in the world, in the heart of Europe, in the US, Africa, Yemen, Syria, Palestine," he said, his voice rising with emotion. "The message of the election was resistance against arrogant powers."
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.
Iran's Leader Ayatollah Khamenei officially declares Raisi as the country's next president pic.twitter.com/BTCjgsycWJ— Reza Khaasteh (@Khaaasteh) August 3, 2021
And here's how The Wall Street Journal presented the same remarks, strongly suggesting the 60-year old Raisi sees himself as having a mandate to pursue more hardline tactics:
But Mr. Raisi also warned foreign countries against getting involved in regional disputes, saying his election win in June represented a demand from voters to push back against "the excessive demands of the arrogant and tyrannical powers of the world."
#Iran's media is having great fun with the deputy-secretary general of the EU's External Action Service sitting in the row behind senior officials from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and Hezbollah at Raisi's inauguration today. pic.twitter.com/aIrYuuCfTM— Jason Brodsky (@JasonMBrodsky) August 5, 2021
Raisi's entering office this week comes as tensions over renewed tanker and "shadow wars" are on edge, given also Israel's Defense Chief on Thursday said Israel's military stands 'ready' to attack Iran in retaliation for acts of aggression on the high seas. "The world needs to deal with Iran, the region needs to deal with Iran, and Israel also needs to do its part in this situation," he added in an interview with YNet news.
Things are also heating up on the Israel-Lebanese border, where Israel responded with extensive artillery fire and airstrikes after a Wednesday rocket attack - likely fired from Hezbollah positions.