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Iran's Rouhani threatens to reveal economic corruption

President Hassan Rouhani and Chief Justice Ebrahim Raisi clash over corruption cases.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 26, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid - HP1EF9Q1DCLMP

When conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi lost the presidential election to incumbent Hassan Rouhani in 2017, many Iran observers believed he would return to his position as custodian of Iran’s wealthiest charitable institution, the Astan Quds Razavi in eastern Iran, a position he was appointed to by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei just a year prior to the election. However, it became clear Raisi was not interested in leading a quiet administrative life like the previous custodian. Through his media team — which followed him on his busy schedule to the outskirts of Mashhad and smaller villages to show the work Astan Quds Razavi was performing — it seemed Raisi behaved as if he was still on the campaign trail.

In March 2019, when Khamenei appointed Raisi to be Iran's chief justice, he took office with the clear backing of the ruling establishment to root out corruption — a campaign he zealously embraced as vigorously as the election campaign. Though corruption is a major concern for Iranians and Iranian officials, it was only a matter of time before Raisi’s selective prosecution of corruption would anger other groups and cliques within the Islamic Republic, particularly his former rival in the presidential election.

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