Iranian Presidential Candidates Expect a Trump Victory in November - Ponder Who is Best to Handle Him

AP Photo/Francisco Seco

President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran died in a helicopter crash in May. Six candidates, five conservatives and a reformist, are running to replace him. 

All of the men running for president think that former President Donald Trump will win the election in November. They are debating on how best to handle Trump if that happens. 

Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf is considered to be the front-runner. He is a conservative and the speaker of the Iranian Parliament. He is a former commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. His top priorities are restoring the nuclear deal and sanctions relief. “When we are facing an enemy like Trump who does not behave with integrity, we have to be calculative in our behavior.” He said that if Trump doesn't make "timely decisions" he would “either have to sell Iran to Trump or create tensions in the country.” Sabre rattling, much? 

 It's amusing reading that Trump is the one without integrity, isn't it, from an Iranian official? Please. The extreme behavior the Iranian leaders use against their citizens is unacceptable to civilized people. As speaker of the Iranian Parliament, he would be a large part of the strict laws made against women and girls, in particular.

President Biden is seen as weak by our enemies in the world. The fact that Iranian presidential candidates assume he will lose to Trump in November is telling. If Biden was seen as strong and a successful president, Iranians would be expecting him to win re-election and keep the status quo. 

Trump has a record as president and Iranians know how he will deal with them. The concern is so strong that the Foreign Ministry created an informal working group in the spring to prepare for Mr. Trump’s return. 

One area of concern for the Iranian candidates has to do with prisoner swaps. The nuclear weapons program is a top concern, too.

Iran negotiated indirectly several times this year and last with the United States through Oman and Qatar for a prisoner swap and to defuse regional tensions, and it engaged in indirect negotiations for a return to the nuclear deal with both the Trump and Biden administrations.

The officials, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly, said that, should Mr. Trump be elected, Iran would continue indirect negotiations but would not meet with him directly. They said that they discussed whether waiting to deal with Mr. Trump would make more sense than reaching an agreement with Mr. Biden now, only to have a Republican, whether Mr. Trump or some other Republican president in the future, tear it up.

Has the Biden administration been negotiating prisoner swaps and tying Iran's nuclear weapons program to those talks? That's what it sounds like. Isn't it enough that the Biden administration has freed up billions of dollars from frozen Iranian bank accounts to return to them? 

In a podcast interview last week, Trump said he can deal with Iran and its nuclear program.

Mr. Trump repeatedly said during his presidency that his policy of maximum pressure on Iran was aimed at cornering the country into making concessions on its nuclear program, and that he was not looking for regime change. He defended his policy last week in a virtual interview with the All In podcast.

“I would have made a fair deal with Iran; I was going to get along with Iran,” Mr. Trump said in the interview. He said his main goal was to deny Iran nuclear weapons. “I had them at a point where you could’ve negotiated,” he added, in a claim disputed by analysts. “A child could’ve made a deal with them.”

Iran's political system is a theocracy. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, has the final word on major state matters, including negotiations with the United States and on nuclear policy. The Iranian president sets the domestic agenda, though, and hs some influence on foreign policy. 

Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian is the reformist candidate. A staff member said that voters contact his campaign through social media asking how he plans to counter Trump. He has made former foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif his foreign policy adviser. Zarif was instrumental in the 2015 deal during the Obama administration. Pezeshkian's choice for foreign minister would be Abbas Araghchi, who was Mr. Zarif’s deputy. He was a member of the team that negotiated the nuclear pact in 2015.

Trump canceled the Iranian nuclear deal. Zarif told Pezeshkian's conservative rivals that Iran would be able to raise its oil sales to pre-sanctions level of two million barrels a day because Biden "loosened the screws." Biden has a fondness for the brutal Iranian theocracy and is weak on staying strong on sanctions, as Zarif indicates.  

Trump prides himself on his negotiating skills. He is willing to walk away when he isn't getting the deal he wants. Biden and his administration don't operate that way. Like the Obama administration, led by John Kerry, they are willing to appease Iran to get a deal made. We saw that with their decision to free up some frozen bank accounts that were part of the sanctions levied against Iran. 

We need a change in our leadership. It is dangerous for the United States to be seen as weak on the world stage. The fact that Iranian presidential candidates are preparing to deal with Trump after a four-year absence speaks to Trump's strength as a world leader. 

Let's not forget that it was Trump who took out Qassim Suleimani in 2020.

Saeed Jalili, an ultraconservative candidate who was also involved in the nuclear talks, hasn't forgotten. He used a quote at a rally in Tehran on Monday that referenced that. “Mr. Trump, you gambler, we are the ones who can deal with you.” It's reported the crowd went wild with cheering and clapping.

The important part here is that the Iranian officials know that the status quo from the Biden administration will be upset if Trump is elected and comes back into power. It will be interesting to see if Iranians vote for the reformist or stick with a hardline conservative candidate.

Trending on HotAir Videos