President Hassan Rouhani was sworn-in at parliament for a second term on August 5 in front of more than 100 foreign dignitaries (The Guardian). Among the dignitaries were officials from Europe, including French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Roth, and British Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Iraqi President Fuad Masum, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe also attended the ceremony, in addition to representatives of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, and national delegates from Qatar, Kuwait and Oman—demonstrating that Tehran is neither isolated, nor on bad terms with much of the world. The special guest of the evening seemed to be the EU foreign policy chief, who ended up in the center of a selfie scandal (BBC News). A number of male Iranian MPs surrounded Federica Mogherini and tried to take selfies with her. Iranian social media and state media criticized their actions. Some even poked fun at their fawning over the EU foreign policy chief. One popular Tweet compared the situation to a scene in the film Malena, where crowds of men rush to light Italian actress Monica Belluci’s cigarette. A hardliner MP said a committee would probe his colleagues’ conduct. He called their behavior a “self-surrender to the West.”
The head of North Korea’s parliament attended the inauguration of President Hassan Rouhani (CNBC).
Iran’s most prominent Sunni leader was excluded from the inauguration, leading some Sunnis to accuse the government of discrimination and neglect (IranWire). Molavi Abdul Hamid, an influential religious leader of the Baluchi Sunni community, told state newspaper Iran that he never received an invitation.
The Iranian president used his inauguration to send a message of moderation and continued focus on constructive engagement with the world (Al-Monitor). Rouhani was first elected in 2013. He won May’s election in a landslide victory after promising to build bridges with the outside world and stimulate the economy.
Rouhani’s proposed new cabinet will sever the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s (IRGC) control of the Defense Ministry (AP). The Iranian president nominated the country’s acting defense minister, General Amir Hatami of the Iranian army, to permanently take over the position. It was a departure from previous presidents who have since 1993 appointed members of IRGC to the position.
Rouhani appointed three women as vice-presidents and one as a civil rights assistant following criticism of his all-male cabinet (BBC News). Masumeh Ebtekar has been named vice-president for family and women’s affairs, Laya Joneydi is vice-president for legal affairs and Shahindokht Mowlaverdi is the president’s assistant for civil rights. The cabinet still lacks Sunni Muslims.
Read about the challenges Rouhani faces in his new term (RFERL).