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Why Ebrahim Raisi will not travel to New York for the UN General Assembly

Iranian regime president Ebrahim Raisi
Iranian regime president Ebrahim Raisi


Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, September 20, 2021—Ebrahim Raisi, the president of the Iranian regime, will be addressing the UN General Assembly through video conference and will not attend the session in person on Tuesday, Majid Takhtravanchi, Tehran’s Ambassador to the UN said on Thursday.

According to Takhtravanchi, Raisi’s absence is due to Covid concerns, a claim that has been refuted and mocked even by the regime’s own state-run media. Interestingly, Raisi had no reservations in attending the convention of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in person, held in Tajikistan last week.

Logically, the regime would have jumped at the opportunity to have its newly inaugurated president attend a UN session along with other world leaders. As the state-run Arman newspaper wrote on September 18, “In the current conditions of the region, attending the UN session at this time was a unique opportunity that we lost.”

So, why would the president of the Iranian regime refrain from attending one of the most important international political international events? More importantly, why would Raisi miss the opportunity to mend his image by standing side-by-side with world leaders?

Opinions by the regime’s own analysts and media speak volumes about the dilemma that Tehran is facing in having a murderer as the head of state.

The state-run Jahan-e Sanat alluded to Raisi’s human rights violations, namely his prominent role in the execution of more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, which has become the source of outrage and criticism by politicians across the world. “Six Republican Senators had written a letter to [U.S. President Joe] Biden and had asked him to deny Raisi entrance to American soil,” Jahan-e Sanat wrote on September 18.

An analyst quoted by Jahan-e Sanat tried to defend Raisi but ended up doing more damage than good by saying, “According to international law, the president of a country cannot be arrested because he is accused of having committed war crimes.” In effect, this analyst confirmed that his president is a war criminal.

A jurist quoted in the article explicitly stated the real worry and said, “Maybe one of the worries is reactions in other countries [to Raisi’s trip to New York] such as demonstrations by Iranians living abroad. Such events will cause negative results and naturally, under such circumstance, the trip will not be worth its costs.”

This was a reference to the demonstrations that the Iranian Resistance has been constantly holding in the past few months, calling for the arrest and prosecution of Raisi and other regime officials involved in the 1988 massacre and other crimes against humanity. What makes the situation even more tense for the regime is the ongoing trial of Hamid Nouri, a regime official who is being tried in a Swedish court for torturing political prisoners in the 1980s and his role in the 1988 massacre. The witnesses who have appeared in court and the families of the victims who have filed complaints against Nouri have made it clear that the real perpetrators who must be tried and put behind bars are Raisi, regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and senior regime officials who orchestrated the 1988 massacre.

Also quoted in the Jahan-e Sanat article is a jurist who said, “The current conditions are not suitable for such a trip. For example, at the moment, the Hamid Nouri trial is ongoing in Sweden, in which Raisi’s name has been brought up multiple times… I think that what drove Raisi and his advisors to avoid attending the UN General Assembly session was to avoid the possible tension that Iranian expats might cause… Iranians living abroad or some organizations and institutions might want to take actions against him.”

Jahan-e Sanat summarizes by saying, “The current situation in Iran and its relations with the world is such that maybe not attending a global summit will be better than attending it, and political reasons and some preventive measures against possible marginal issues might drive us to forgo the benefits of taking part in a session such as the UN General Assembly.”

The regime is caught in a deadlock. On the one hand, Khamenei was direly in need of appointing Raisi as president to maintain his hold on power against the growing tide of restiveness in the Iranian society. On the other hand, the appointment of an executioner as president has global tradeoffs that the regime can’t handle. Meanwhile, the Iranian Resistance and its restless supporters across the world are always ready to challenge the regime on every front, holding it accountable for its past and ongoing crimes and not letting its officials get away with murder when they set foot outside of Iran.