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Betraying Reformist backers, Rouhani paves way for Iran’s hard-liners to take office

After supporting President Rouhani in the past two elections, Reformists are breaking with the president in public ways.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid - HP1EE9Q1DLYG4

"On victory day, everyone claps for a winner who acts with nonpartisanship. But they all keep a distance from him as the hard times come by," said Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Jan. 10. These sarcastic remarks were apparently meant for some inside the Reformist camp who have recently criticized his performance.

After more than five years of unwavering support, even the Reformist camp's traditional leader, Mohammad Khatami, has spoken out against the president's "passivity." Rouhani started to fuel fury among his Reformist backers after he offered them few spots in his Cabinet following his re-election in 2017. Now, with differences that have rapidly grown in the 18 months since, few Reformists would go the extra mile to back Rouhani. Saeed Hajjarian, a top ideologue of the camp, has acknowledged the rift, blaming it on the president's failure to live up to his election slogans and resist pressure from hard-liners.

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