Iran's President Criticizes US After Trump's Sharp Words

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And Iranian decision-makers are well aware of this. And many Iranian leaders of that era have taken the journey from revolution to reform. As such, the Iranian population always surprises world public opinion by the level of its complexity and pragmatism.

As I (and, to be fair, many others) predicted prior to the election, Rouhani benefitted handsomely from high voter turnout. "I hope he can build on the success of the nuclear agreement to deepen relations with the West and begin to bridge the sectarian chasm between Iran and its regional neighbours". Iran's most powerful authority - Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - has ruled out normalisation of ties with the United States. He covered the 2017 Iranian presidential election from Tehran.

He also suggested that the leaders of Iran, like many leaders elsewhere, are still trying to understand Trump and his policies.

The bad news is that US President Donald Trump, who opposed the nuclear deal during his campaign, and the Republican-dominated US Congress have taken a hardline stance toward Iran, and are discouraging investment in the country. Syrian strategy and priorities of the current United States administration in this country aren't completely clear yet, but there are reasons to believe that Trump's team will try to separate Russia's and Iran's goals in Syria by signing separate agreements with Moscow - this possibility is at least discussed at the level of informed experts.

Visiting Iran's arch-foe Saudi Arabia on Sunday, Trump singled out Iran as a key source of funding and support for militant groups in the Middle East, sending a tough message to Tehran the day after Rouhani won a second presidential term.

Addressing his first press conference after being re-elected as Iran's president, Rouhani said that Tehran has always favoured good ties with the regional and global countries. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 overthrew Washington's puppet ruler, the shah of Iran, and just as in the case of Castro's revolution in Cuba, the USA has never forgiven it for that crime. The benchmark West Texas Intermediate remained in the $50 per barrel range in after-hours trading, suggesting that the market did not see any imminent significant changes in Iran's oil policy.

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Rouhani gave a televised address on Saturday after defeating his conservative rival Ebrahim Raisi in Friday's election. Iran's close relationship with Russian Federation is well known, yet if Russian Federation and the US manage to beef up their cooperation in the Middle East, Iran may find the opportunity to reduce its dependence vis-a-vis Russian Federation.

So Trump has used Iran as a verbal punching bag while his administration has levied mostly symbolic sanctions on Tehran's ballistic missile program, which was not part of the nuclear deal, adding to those left in place by the Obama administration. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force continue to support Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. So an important battle between conservatives and reformists over the choice of the next Supreme Leader looms.

Spokesman for Iran, Bahran Qassemi, charged that, far from encouraging an atmosphere of unity in the region, Trump's rhetoric is, in fact, "reinvigorating terrorists in the region by its hostile policies". "He faces a hard task", Fazel Meybodi, a Shia cleric from the city of Qum, said of Rouhani.

According to Tillerson, the USA wants Rouhani to "begin the process of dismantling Iran's network of terrorism" and put an end to ballistic missile testing. Rouhani's victory has proven once again that the candidate closest to the supreme leader is not guaranteed victory.

Last Friday, the Iranians made a decision to stand on the side of popular sovereignty rather than divine sovereignty in yet another election that had all the frustrating signs of making the fate of a nation.

Mr Rouhani, who defeated challenger Ebrahim Raisi in Friday's presidential election, responded by ridiculing decades of USA strategy in the Middle East. The vote clearly tells the religious hierarchy that Iranians want peaceful engagement with other countries.

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