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U.S. Unmoved by Iranian Elections, Doubts Any Shift in Human Rights

Daniel Kim Views  

AFP-Yonhap News

Despite the rise of reformist candidates in the Iranian election, the U.S. government, which has maintained a cold relationship with Iran since last year’s Middle East crisis, stated that it “does not expect any changes.”

According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Vedant Patel commented on the Iranian presidential election during a briefing on July 1. Patel stated, “We do not expect Iran to fundamentally change or for the Iranian regime to respect human rights more, regardless of the election outcome.”

The Iranian government held a presidential by-election on June 28. This election was to select a successor to former President Ebrahim Raisi, who belonged to the hardline right-wing faction and died in a helicopter crash last May. Four candidates ultimately ran in this election, and the voter turnout was the lowest ever at 39.9%.

Regarding the turnout, Patel said, “We are not in a position to verify the turnout,” but added, “As with most matters related to the Iranian government, the turnout cannot be trusted. We do not see this election as free and fair.”

On June 28, Masoud Pezeshkian, a member of parliament with a moderate to left-leaning stance, came in first in the vote. He promised to improve relations with the West and ease hijab enforcement in this election.

Pezeshkian will face off against the second-place candidate, Saeed Jalili, a former deputy foreign minister, in a runoff election on July 5. Jalili, like the deceased Raisi, is a hardline conservative classified as a loyalist to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. Both candidates began their official runoff election campaigns on July 1. Campaigning is allowed until the evening of July 3.

On June 30, Pezeshkian posted on social media, “I promise that the government will stand against forced patrols, censorship, and external pressure at all rallies in the future.” His comment seems to be targeting voters dissatisfied with Iran’s crackdown on hijab protests in 2022.

On the other hand, Jalili emphasized in a meeting with IT experts on July 1, “Mobile internet speed should be at least 10 times faster, and wired internet must be at least 50 times faster.” This statement is presumed to target the dissatisfaction of young Iranian voters with the current internet quality.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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