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Who is Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s next president?

Tehran, Iran – Judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as the next president of Iran at a critical juncture for the country. Who is the conservative leader and what are his positions? The 60-year-old Raisi, who enjoys wide backing from the conservative and hardline revolutionary camp and its base, will remain chief justice until…

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Who is Ebrahim Raisi, Iran’s next president?

Tehran, Iran – Judiciary head Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as the next president of Iran at a critical juncture for the country. Who is the conservative leader and what are his positions?
The 60-year-old Raisi, who enjoys wide backing from the conservative and hardline revolutionary camp and its base, will remain chief justice until he takes over from moderate outgoing President Hassan Rouhani in early August as he did not resign from his post to run for president.
Like Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the leader wears a black turban, which signifies that he is a sayyid – a descendent of the Prophet Muhammad.
Raisi is referred to as a likely successor to the 82-year-old Khamenei when he passes away.
Before the 1979 revolution
Raisi was born in Mashhad in northeastern Iran, a major city and a religious centre for Shia Muslims as it houses the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth imam.
Growing up in a clerical family, Raisi received a religious education and began attending the seminary in Qom when he was 15. There, he studied under several prominent scholars, including Khamenei.
When his education came up during the presidential debates, he denied that he has only six grades of classical education, saying he holds a PhD in law in addition to his seminary education.
When he entered the influential seminary in Qom just years before the 1979 revolution that brought about the Islamic Republic, many Iranians were dissatisfied with the governance of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, who was ultimately deposed.
Raisi was purportedly a participant in some of the events that forced the shah into exile and set up the new clerical establishment under Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

After the revolution
Following the revolution, Raisi joined the prosecutor’s office in Masjed Soleyman in southwestern Iran. Over the next six years, he added to his experience as a prosecutor in several other jurisdictions.
A crucial development came when he moved to Iran’s capital, Tehran, in 1985 after being appointed deputy prosecutor.
Human rights organisations say three years later, just months after the gruelling eight-year Iran-Iraq War ended, he was part of a so-called “death commission” that oversaw the disappearing and secret executions of thousands of political prisoners.
Raisi will become the first Iranian president to have been targeted by United States sanctions, imposed in 2019, over his alleged role in the mass executions and for cracking down on public protests.
Amnesty International has called for the leader to face charges of crimes against humanity.
The leader continued to rise within Iran’s judicial system following Khamenei’s accession to the supreme leadership in 1989. He later held roles as prosecutor of Tehran, then headed the General Inspection Organization, and then served as deputy chief justice for a decade until 2014, during which time the pro-democracy Green Movement protests of 2009 took place.
In 2006, while serving as deputy chief justice, he was for the first time elected from South Khorasan to the Assembly of Experts, a body that is tasked with choosing a replacement for the supreme leader in the event of his death. He still holds that role.
Raisi was promoted to attorney general of Iran in 2014 and remained in that position until 2016, when he climbed the ladder yet again – albeit outside the judicial system this time – and was appointed by the supreme leader as the custodian of the Astan-e Quds Razavi, a huge bonyad, or charitable trust, that manages the shrine of Imam Reza and all affiliated organisations.
In that position, Raisi commanded billions of dollars’ worth of assets and made ties with the religious and business elite of Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city.
Raisi, who has two daughters, is also the son-in-law of Ahmad Alamolhoda, the hardline longtime Friday prayer leader of Mashhad, who has become known for his fiery ultraconservative speeches and highly controversial remarks and ideas.
Raisi received a religious education and began attending the seminary in Qom when he was 15 [File: Meghdad Madadi/Getty Images]Presidential ambitions
In 2017, Raisi ran for president for the first time and became the main candidate against Rouhani, a moderate who championed engagement with the West and Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers that lifted multilateral sanctions in exchange for curbs on the country’s nuclear programme.
Raisi and his ally Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who in 2020 became the speaker of a new hardline parliament amid low turnout and wide disqualification of reformist candidates, lost the election to Rouhani. Raisi did, however, garner just less than 16 million votes or 38 percent in an election with a 73 percent turnout.
After a short retreat, the supreme leader in 2019 appointed him as the chief justice.
In that position, the leader tried to cement his image as a staunch opponent of corruption. He held public trials and prosecuted figures close to the government and the judiciary.
He also effectively kickstarted his presidential campaign and travelled to almost all of Iran’s 32 provinces. In those visits, he would often announce he had brought a big factory back from the brink of bankruptcy, portraying himself as a champion of hard-working Iranians and boosting local businesses under US sanctions.
Raisi carried that theme into his 2021 campaign, in which he made limited promises as it was evident none of the other candidates could mount a serious challenge to his presidency amid a bad economic situation, low turnout and wide disqualification of reformist and moderate candidates.
During his time at the judiciary, messaging app Signal was banned earlier this year after a surge in popularity, as was the voice chat app Clubhouse when it became massively popular in the run-up to the elections.
All major social media and messaging apps are blocked in Iran, with the exception of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Economy and nuclear deal
When pressed by another candidate, Raisi briefly discussed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal that former US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoned in 2018 is formally known.
While he had previously opposed the deal, this time he said he would support it as any other state commitment, but will form a “strong” government that will be able to steer it in the right direction.
A sixth round of talks between Iran and world powers is ongoing in Vienna to restore the accord, that, if successful, will lead to lifting US sanctions and scaling down Iran’s nuclear programme as the country is now enriching uranium up to 63 percent, its highest ever rate.
Even as the June 24 deadline of a temporary agreement with the International Atomic Energy Organization to keep monitoring activities in Iran in place approaches, negotiators have said the sixth round will not be the final round. But there are hopes the agreement could be revived before Raisi assumes office.
Meanwhile, the 83-million-strong population of Iran is suffering from rampant inflation and high unemployment while the government is running a considerable budget deficit and faces difficulties in handling what has become the deadliest COVID-19 pandemic of the Middle East.
Raisi has promised to tackle inflation, create at least one million jobs per year, build new housing and dedicate special loans to first-time homebuyers who get married, in addition to ushering in a new era of financial transparency and fighting corruption.
Hamed Mousavi, a political science professor at Tehran University, said the narrative among conservatives has been that mismanagement by the Rouhani government led to the current situation.
“So according to this narrative, if this mismanagement is fixed then the economy will be fixed but I do think that many conservatives at least internally understand how important the sanctions are,” he told Al Jazeera.
“I think this will go back to how much Raisi will show flexibility in the negotiations. One important point is who will he appoint for the nuclear negations.”
One choice is hardliner Saeed Jalili, a former nuclear negotiator under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who was one of seven approved candidates in the 2021 race and withdrew in favour of Raisi.
According to Natasha Lindstaedt, a researcher at the University of Essex, the likely effects of Raisi’s election on ties with the US are uncertain.
“But the type of rhetoric that the Iranian president can issue sometimes affects the way the US responds,” she told Al Jazeera.
“I see Raisi in some way as the return to Ahmadinejad, a more populist, authoritarian president and that was a period when the relationships with the US and Iran was really tense,” she said.

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UAE, Austria sign Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement

Declaration launches a new stage of cooperation between the two countries. His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, today attended the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the UAE…

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UAE, Austria sign Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement

Declaration launches a new stage of cooperation between the two countries.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, today attended the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the UAE and Austria.
The joint declaration made by the two countries reaffirms their commitment to expanding their relations and launching a new stage of cooperation to achieve their shared goals and drive growth in their countries.
The agreement was signed by Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, and Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoun Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports; Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei, Under-Secretary of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, Ibrahim Salem Al Musharakh, UAE Ambassador to Austria, Mag. Gernot Blumel, Austria’s Minister of Finance, and Dr. Margarete Schramböck, Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs.
Below is the full text of the joint declaration:
Areas of Focused Cooperation

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Bollywood: Shilpa Shetty files case against media houses

Actor Shilpa Shetty has filed a defamation suit in Bombay High Court against 29 media personnel and media houses, accusing them of “false reporting and maligning her image” following the arrest of her husband Raj Kundra in a case connected with creation and distribution of pornographic content. The hearing in Kundra’s case is scheduled for…

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Bollywood: Shilpa Shetty files case against media houses

Actor Shilpa Shetty has filed a defamation suit in Bombay High Court against 29 media personnel and media houses, accusing them of “false reporting and maligning her image” following the arrest of her husband Raj Kundra in a case connected with creation and distribution of pornographic content.
The hearing in Kundra’s case is scheduled for Friday.
Shetty urged the high court to issue a “permanent and mandatory injunction restraining the defendants, (themselves and through their servants, agents, assigns and/or any person claiming by or through them) from making and/or publishing and/or reproducing and/or circulating and/or speaking and/or communicating, any derogatory and defamatory statements.”
She also requested the court to issue a mandatory order directing the defendants to forthwith delete and/or remove the defamatory articles and the defamatory videos from their respective websites and social media platforms and to issue an unconditional apology.
The petitioner is also seeking a mandatory order “directing the defendants to issue a clarificatory statement and an unconditional apology in their respective websites and elsewhere where the defamatory statements are contained stating that the defamatory articles and defamatory videos were published without ascertaining the veracity or the genuineness of the statements and hence, are baseless, unsubstantiated and unwarranted”.
The defendants be ordered and directed to pay to the plaintiff (Shilpa Shetty) an amount of Rs20 crore (200 million) together with interest thereon at 18 per cent per annum from the date of filing of the suit until payment and/or realisation, read the plea.
The actor also sought for passing appropriate directions requiring Facebook, YouTube and other social media platforms to remove or delete or take down the defamatory articles and defamatory videos.
Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra was arrested by police on July 19 along with 11 other people on charges related to the alleged creation of pornographic films. Kundra has been named as the key conspirator by the Mumbai Police which has slapped charges against him under Sections 420 (cheating), 34 (common intention), 292, and 293 (related to obscene and indecent advertisements and displays) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) besides relevant sections of the IT Act and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, said the police.
Mumbai Crime Branch on Tuesday said that actor Shilpa Shetty has not yet been given a clean chit in the pornography racket case where her husband and businessman Raj Kundra is the prime accused.
“Shilpa Shetty has not been given a clean chit yet. All the possibilities and angles are being probed. Forensic auditors have been appointed and they are looking into the transactions of all the accounts in this case. This audit may take some time as it is a lengthy process but until the audit is complete, no clean chit to anyone,” the officials had said.

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Two rockets fired near US embassy in Baghdad

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Two rockets fired near US embassy in Baghdad

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