It is unlikely Hassan Rouhani was the Supreme Leader’s first choice for president, but it seems the authorities had decided there must be no repeat of the 2009 protests. So once the Supreme Leader had agreed to accept only eight candidates out of the 680 who wanted to stand in the election, it was also agreed to accept the results that came from the ballot box. And that result gave Hassan Rouhani over 50% of the vote. This peaceful election is an answer to prayer.
Hassan Rouhani faces many challenges and deserves the prayer of the international church. On the domestic front he has an appalling economic situation to sort out. Nearly every Iranian is suffering because of the collapse of the rial and the impact of sanctions. To sort out the economy he must get a deal with the West over Iran’s nuclear program so the sanctions can be lifted. He also needs to negotiate with the West to end the threat of a pre-emptive strike by the Israelis. It is hoped that as a part of this diplomacy he will use his influence to stop the harassment of Christians and other religious minorities.
Negotiating an agreement was never going to be easy, but is now even more difficult because of the civil war in Syria. Iran is backing the Assad regime. The West and much of the Sunni Arab world oppose Assad. There has been talk of the West arming the rebels. Even if Hassan Rouhani, a seasoned negotiator, is successful in reaching a compromise with the West, he must then be careful his diplomacy is not derailed by hard-liners in the regime whose world-view is fuelled by the need for constant confrontation.
Hassan Rouhani is walking a tightrope and needs our prayers.
Give thanks for
• Peaceful election
• Easing of economic hardship in Iran
• Successful negotiations over nuclear program
• Wisdom for Hassan Rouhani as he begins his term as president