Mideast Expert: Iran's Rouhani 'Carefully' Backs Syrian President, Hezbollah

Friday, 19 Jul 2013 08:19 PM

By Courtney Coren and John Bachman

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Iran's president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, has to "toe the line," which is why he had to show support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah in spite of his promises to govern from a "path of moderation," attorney Amir Handjani said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

"President Rouhani has to be mindful of the domestic leadership in Iran, the domestic situation, and he has to tread very carefully," Handjani told Newsmax. "The Iranian government's official position has been to support Syrian President Assad and Hezbollah, and President Rouhani would not come into office and change policy so quickly."

"The Iranian leadership has always been, since the revolution, a strong ally of President Assad, a strong ally of Hezbollah," he said. "So he's now toeing the line and keeping with official policy."

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Handjani is an attorney in the energy industry who works in the United Arab Emirates and in Washington, D.C.

In an opinion piece published on The Huffington Post following the Iranian election in June, Handjani argued that he thinks the United States and Iran will be able to come to some sort of agreement about the nuclear weapons program in Iran under Rouhani. He still believes this is possible.

"President Rouhani has said all the right things and has sort of closed the book on the vitriolic Ahmadinejad chapter, which is a really dark time in Iranian history. ... He's signaled that he wants better relations with the west, he wants to come to some sort of conclusion with the P5+1 on the issue of Iranian enrichment," Handjani says.

"I'm optimistic that he'll be looking for a way out of this impasse with the west."

Handjani believes Rouhani's election reflects the desires of the Iranian people.

"[The young Iranian population is] highly educated, tends to be very open-minded and liberal, and [Rouhani] was able to tap into that by telling them he will grant them their wish of getting greater freedom and greater connectivity to the outside world," Handjani says.

"There are a lot of hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people that are riding on him to make life better for them, certainly than what it's been the last eight years."


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