The victory of the moderate faction in the 2013 presidential elections in Iran has been welcomed by the Hawza of Najaf. The religious authorities as well as the instructors there had hoped that the radical policies of the preceding eight years would finally come to an end. The election results have already brought a reduction in tensions between Iranian government officials and the religious authorities in Najaf, who did not receive former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They refused to grant him an appointment during either of his two trips to Iraq. In contrast, the current foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, visited all four grand ayatollahs in Najaf on Sept. 9, shortly after taking office, on his first trip to Iraq.
News reports on the interactions between Iran and the United States are being closely followed in the Hawza in the hope that violence in the region might be brought under control. Such changes in policy — interpreted by instructors and students at the Hawza as a sign that the Iranian government is moving toward moderation and away from radicalism — have been warmly welcomed. In the past, the Hawza had criticized some of the Iranian government's radical policies, and in retaliation, Al-Kawthar, the state-owned Arabic-language network, broadcast programs in which the institution and its religious leaders were themselves strongly criticized.