5 reasons Rouhani’s rivals want him to stay put

Al-Monitor | : Parts of the Tehran Grand Bazaar, a traditionalist bastion in the heart of the Iranian capital, shuttered on June 25 in the wake of the significant currency devaluation and resulting high prices. The strike comes amid demands from mainly conservative political figures that President Hassan Rouhani resign due to his “inefficiency” and “mismanagement” of the economy. Yet, while the calls and speculation have continued, there are several reasons conservatives, at least for now, are not really seeking the president’s ouster.

First, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei strongly opposes Rouhani’s resignation on the basis that such a move could set a precedent that could be damaging to the stability of future administrations. In a June 27 speech, the Iranian president vowed that he will not resign and that Ayatollah Khamenei would henceforth by default endorse any decision made in the meetings of the three heads of government branches. The supreme leader recently softened his direct criticism of the president and has reportedly instructed the president to communicate such decisions before seeking his approval.

Second, Rouhani’s resignation could aggravate the economic and political situation in Iran, which has led to discontent over financial difficulties among both ordinary people and businessmen. Recognizing these dynamics and the dangers that could result from the government’s rivals seeking to capitalize on them, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, addressing Iran’s Chamber of Commerce on June 24, warned conservatives “not to assume they would win if President Rouhani leaves office,” saying that the enemies of the Islamic Republic are not targeting the administration or the political establishment but rather Iran as a whole.

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