Iranian president-elect Hassan Rouhani already expressed his wish to revitalize Iran’s international relations. Rouhani seeks international dialogue, and by doing so, wished to gain some leverage over the international sanctions against Iran so as to boost Iran’s economy and stop inflation. This would also include a conciliatory approach to the nuclear issue.
After his victory and his gaining power, and even though he will take office only in early August, he was quick to affirm his views on the need of stronger international dialogue and he also confirmed he was to follow a much more conciliatory approach on Iran’s nuclear ambitions than his predecessors. Rouhani told the television that the point of the dialogue is to create equal positions and base relations on mutual understanding and respect.
Although he emphasized the need for a conciliatory approach, he added that it is only possible if Tehran’s interests are respected by the other parties as well, and the mutual respect of interests must be the base of any developing dialogue or relations with other countries. Although seemingly soft and conciliatory, Rouhani warned regional powers not to miscalculate Iran’s power or misjudge its strength, as they may pay the cost of a wrong step toward the Islamic Republic.
Rouhani also hopes to develop better relations with the West and decrease the strong US resentment against Iran, not only by dialogue and by the establishment of better understanding, but also by decreasing any sort of fear Iran might have caused for the West in the past. For doing so, Rouhani argues that Iran needs to pursue a softer stance on its nuclear ambitions and listen to the other side as well. However, Rouhani did not comment so far on the Israeli fears of a nuclear Iran. Seemingly, the new president is still much more concerned about its relations with the West than with Israel, and his directly expressed warning might just as well be a warning against Israel, who may easily find itself in a better position with Iran’s newborn flexibility on the nuclear issue.
Neither did Rouhani officially reconsider support for the Assad regime, while Iran was increasingly seen as bending toward the rebels’ side. Khamenei is steadfast in his support for Assad, which is due to religious considerations and other interests that link Iran to Syria’s minority Alawite regime in a majority Sunni country.
What Rouhani will achieve in the regional arena remains a question of the future, but his conciliatory approach seems to be destined rather to the west and not the middle eastern region. Support for other Shiite groups is likely to remain strong, and Iran is also expected to be wary of any Sunni uprising that may lead to a regime change in countri