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Iranian hard-liners smell blood as Rouhani under fire over economy

Iranian hard-liners continue to maneuver to not just undermine but wholly get rid of moderate President Hassan Rouhani.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani attends an extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey May 18, 2018. Arif Hudaverdi Yaman/Pool via Reuters - RC1D12304700

Iranian hard-liners are euphoric as President Hassan Rouhani is under increasing pressure from public opinion and losing credibility among voters, given the dire condition of the economy. But this state did not emerge overnight; rather, it is the result of a combination of US President Donald Trump’s policies and the well-devised plans of Rouhani's staunch opponents in Tehran.

This time, hard-liners don’t just want to weaken the moderate president but to push him out altogether. While such a step has been a taboo one in recent decades, the grounds for it were prepared in the aftermath of the May 2017 presidential elections, which led to the defeat of hard-line candidates. According to Abbas Salimi Namin, a moderate conservative, this plan is being led by hard-liners under the leadership of Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi. But Salimi Namin also said May 20 that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei opposes the endeavor, as he is against any government prematurely stepping down.

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