Everything You Need to Know About Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani

President Donald Trump has found himself at odds with another leader — and this time, it’s Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani. Islamic Republic News Agency reports Washington has claimed to have plans to destabilize the Iranian Islamic government. And America’s relations with Iran have also been negative since Trump pulled the U.S. from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and imposed more sanctions on the country.

“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests,” Rouhani said. Pakistani newspaper Express Tribune also quoted Rouhani as saying, “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” during a meeting attended by Iranian diplomats in the country’s capital on Sunday, July 22.

Trump didn’t like Rouhani’s threats, however. The Washington Post reports he took to Twitter to say:

To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

The Islamic Republic News Agency has since dismissed Trump’s tweet as a “passive reaction.” Even so, there’s a lot to think about here — and there’s plenty to learn about the Iranian president himself.

Rouhani promised he’d be a more moderate and modern leader

Iranian President Rouhani Visits Austria

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen (not pictured) review a guard of honor upon Rouhani’s arrival at Hofburg Palace | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

There’s a lot of conflicting information regarding where 69-year-old Rouhani’s loyalties lie — either with his people or with the power of the Iranian regime. The BBC reports during his election campaign for his second term in office, he promised to align himself with the reformists and the political left. He claimed he could revive the economy, which was sluggish at best, and that the people would have more freedoms and equalities amongst men and women. He won the election by a landslide.

You may just be hearing about him now, but Rouhani was around way before the 2000s — he was just working behind the scenes. Rouhani held political posts in his country since the ’80s, which included secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, deputy speaker of parliament, and Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. In 2013, his talks with President Obama was the first direct contact between the two countries at this high level since 1979.

Rouhani has said before that he hoped to improve Western relations as well, express.co.uk notes. But Dr. Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the publication that this was just a face Rouhani put forward. Instead, the Iranian leader allegedly boasted that he wanted to use his talks with the West to help Iran’s nuclear program.

He’s been accused of being complicit in his regime’s repressive nature

Is Rouhani as left-leaning and freedom-seeking as he seems? Many question his true intentions, even with his incredibly high approval rating. The BBC notes many citizens note the country doesn’t feel any more free than it did before Rouhani was elected. Some even believe the situation is worse off now than it was previously.

Additionally, Rouhani claimed he wanted to minimize censorship in his country, which also reportedly hasn’t happened. The internet in the country also remains tightly controlled by the government, so that seemingly has not let up, either.

Shahin Gobadi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Paris, has remained critical of Rouhani as well. Gobadi claims Rouhani is nothing but a “regime insider” who’s “complicit in the regime’s repression at home.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has remarked on the ‘corruption’ of Iran’s government

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose

Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani pose during a trilateral meeting on Syria | Mikhail Metzel/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. leaders aside from Trump have also spoken out regarding Rouhani’s alleged hypocrisy. On Sunday, July 22, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The level of corruption and wealth among regime leaders shows that Iran is run by something that resembles the Mafia more than a government,” to an audience consisting mostly of Iranian Americans. He also called out Rouhani and the nuclear deal directly by saying, “Their nuclear deal didn’t make them moderates; it made them wolves in sheep’s clothing,” The Washington Post reports.

As for the economy and the Iranian people, Pompeo essentially called for change here, too. He said the U.S. would be willing to talk to Iran if they stopped repressing their people and supporting military groups — but he doesn’t deem that likely to happen.

Following Pompeo’s statements, Rouhani’s threats, and Trump’s tweet, it seems analysts believe the U.S. could see some direct confrontation with the Islamic Republic in the near future. The Trump administration has no longer just made it about the nuclear deal — it’s now about the people and their freedoms as well.

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