Tensions rise as Iran’s Ebrahim Raisi to be sworn in as president

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Ebrahim Raisi speaks after casting his ballot at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2021. Ebrahim Raisi won Iran's presidential race by securing over 60 percent of votes, the Iranian Interior Ministry announced on Saturday. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)
Ebrahim Raisi speaks after casting his ballot at a polling station in Tehran, Iran, June 18, 2021. Ebrahim Raisi won Iran's presidential race by securing over 60 percent of votes, the Iranian Interior Ministry announced on Saturday. (Photo by Ahmad Halabisaz/Xinhua)

As Iran awaits the swearing in of its new president on Thursday afternoon, tensions in the region continued to rise with the leader of the country’s Revolutionary Guards warning the world that Iran was ready “for any military scenario.”

General Hussein Salami warned Israel and the West against attempting to intimidate Iran. “Those who threaten us should be aware of the dangerous consequences of their rhetoric and better watch what they say,” Salami said on Thursday.

The general’s comments follow a drone attack on the British-operated MT Mercer Street oil tanker in the Persian Gulf a week ago. The attack, which left two crew members dead, has been blamed on Iran by the US, UK and Israeli governments.

Iran denies any involvement in the attack and has dubbed the finger-pointing a political provocation. The Foreign Ministry in Tehran warned that if such “adventurism” were to endanger the country’s security, it would react appropriately.

This ramped up regional tension makes the investiture of Ebrahim Raisi as Iranian president on Thursday afternoon particularly significant.

The chief unknown for Iran watchers is whether the switch to the more conservative Raisi will have a significant impact on attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, which aimed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting economic sanctions against the country.

Raisi is a largely unknown entity politically, having served in the Islamic Republic’s judiciary for over three decades before being appointed Iran’s chief justice in 2019.

However, as public prosecutor, Raisi is said to have been responsible for multiple executions of political dissidents, and in recent years, he has sharply criticized outgoing President Hassan Rowhani’s moderate political stance, including his work brokering the Iran nuclear deal.

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