Iran bets on religion, repression, and revolution

One awkward question is how Western leaders should deal with a foreign leader who is currently under U.S. Treasury Department sanctions for his human-rights abuses. Progressives sometimes call for the arrest of Israeli leaders traveling abroad for alleged crimes against Palestinians. It’ll be interesting to see if these same progressives have any consistency in their principles by calling for Raisi’s arrest should he travel abroad, perhaps to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.

A second question is what his election means for a restored Iran nuclear deal, which the Biden administration is keen to restart after the Trump administration withdrew from it in 2018. Negotiators in Vienna have reportedly already completed the revised accord.

According to one analysis, Iran will most likely move quickly to finalize an agreement while the departing, ostensibly moderate government of Hassan Rouhani remains in office, the better for it to receive the blame for the deal’s shortcomings (as Iranian hard-liners see them) while Raisi’s government reaps the benefits of sanctions’ relief.