According to Iranian state media, President Hassan Rouhani expressed his support for the Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s chemical attack in early April and even accusing the opposition for the attack.
“The use of chemical weapons…was aimed to diverse the general public’s attention from the truth. We must not permit terrorists use such weaponry, then accuse others and provide pretexts for measures in violation of international regulations,” said Rouhani.
For the past 38 years, the Iranian president has accused the Iranian opposition of oppressing and killing the Iranian people, and considers deceiving the international community on Tehran’s nuclear program is one of his main sources of pride.
An interview with Mohammad Reza Ne’matzadeh, the Minister of Industries and Mines, made comments regarding Rouhani’s relationship with Khamenei.
“Rouhani once said in a cabinet meeting how he asked [Khamenei] what is in our interest. Should I participate or not? [Khamenei] emphasized you must participate as a candidate. I am certain that if [Khamenei] said, for example, don’t participate, it is not in our interest, he would have accepted it immediately. He makes no decision on major issues without [Khamenei’s] blessing,” Ne’matzadeh said. “Since 1963, Rouhani was a student of Khomeini and followed his instructions. Afterwards, wherever he had any role or responsibility, it was always according to Khamenei’s approval.”
Other comments from various officials have indicated that Khamenei is the source of power in Iran, approving all aspects of Rouhani’s decisions. With Rouhani’s support of Syria and the support of Khamenei for his candidacy, it is clear Rouhani’s actions during his presidency are in line with the regime’s determination to consolidate power. Although there appear to be different factions with Iran’s government, they are focused on building their power base and consolidating their wealth. This includes a domestic crackdown on the Iranian people.
As part of their exporting of terrorism and fundamentalism, the Iranian government fully backs Assad’s government, despite its abuses against the Syrian people.
Assad and his senior ranks, alongside Khamenei, Rouhani, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders, are the main perpetrators behind the killing of 500,000 Syrians and the displacement of over half of the country’s population. Khamenei admitted if his regime fails to fight in Syria, they will be forced to fight in Tehran, Fars, Khorasan, and Isfahan.
Ebrahim Raisi is also running for the presidency, but has a horrible record of human rights abuses, along with his role in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners as part of the death commission. Both Raisi and Rouhani have received the approval of Khamenei to run in the current election. But either one will not signify a real change in the overall path of Iran and the ruling regime.