An overwhelming victory for the comparatively moderate Hassan Rowhani avoids a run-off election that was set for next Friday. Winning more than 50% of the vote means that Rowhani is indisputably Iran’s next President.
However, just because he is touted as being a ‘moderate’ does not mean to say that Iran is suddenly pro-Western or will stop pursuing nuclear energy. All it means is that Israel and the US will find it a little more difficult to effect ‘regime change’. Iran is also likely to continue supporting Bashir al-Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
As the country’s one-time chief nuclear negotiator, Rowhani knows all about the ins and outs of how to deal with the West with regard to Iran’s nuclear ambitions and is likely to take a far more pragmatic approach in dealing with the West in contrast to the somewhat confrontational approach the out-going President Ahmadinejad had, particularly when addressing Israel’s complaints. His approach is likely to upset the Israeli hard right who were relying heavily on Ahmadinejad’s bellicose attitude to possibly provide casus belli for Israel to strike Iran. If Rowhani decides to fully bare Iran’s nuclear assets for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) then Israel’s hard right and their neoconservative supporters are going to have to find other excuses to find fault with Iran.
One of the main problems the far right of Israel and their neoconservative supporters have with Iran is Iran’s support of Israel’s arch-enemy Hezbollah in Lebanon. For decades Israeli Zionists have coveted the south of Lebanon to be part of a Greater Israel. Israel on a number of occasions have sought excuses to invade and occupy south Lebanon but have never been able to hang on to their conquests, always eventually being beaten back to Israel by a tenacious Hezbollah intent on defending Lebanon against Israel attack, invasion and aggression. With Rowhani now at the Iranian helm, Iran’s support for Hezbollah is unlikely to change meaning that Israel may now concentrate its propaganda efforts and redirect its rhetoric against Iran based more on Iran’s support for Hezbollah than Iran’s supposed pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Regime change in Iran is essential to Israel’s long term dreams of creating a Greater Israel – no matter who is Iran’s president. Israel will keep up its pressure against Iran, but expect the rhetoric now to be more about Hezbollah and less about nuclear weapons with which to ‘wipe Israel of the map’.