Someone is spoofing Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, at this Twitter address, although his underlings do update the masses as to his doings here. Hassan Rouhani, who will be sworn in Aug. 4 as the nation's new president, tweets in a more personal style in both English and Farsi: On July 5, Rouhani sent out the photo above, of the Iranian women's futsal team after it won a silver medal at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in South Korea. Among three tweets in the last 24 hours, he included the photo below of what he suggested was a reunion of Khamenei's circle.
Skeptical Iranian hands say we are witnessing a gigantic ruse: Khamenei and Rouhani are scheming to make the world think they have warmed up and are ready to compromise on their nuclear program, these voices say. All the while, they instead are just playing for more time while their centrifuges redouble their work.
If so, the trick seems to be working to some degree—as his tweets win Rouhani points from some quarters for being warm and fuzzy, observers are pressing Washington to give him a chance and not box him into a corner. "There is no certainty that diplomacy will work. But the failure to try would be the true policy defeat," writes Gary Sick, who was President Jimmy Carter's chief aide on Iran during the 1978 Iranian revolution.
Such talk helps to inform the attitude of Iranian skeptics.
"The election of Rouhani might be a godsend for the supreme leader, who can now offer up a more soft-spoken, cosmopolitan and diplomatic president to convince the West to ease sanctions, even while Khamenei is unprepared to relinquish his nuclear program," Mark Dubowitz, who pushes for strong Iran sanctions at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, DC, told Quartz.
Dubowitz said his recent contact with people close to Rouhani makes clear to him that the Iranian president-designate is camouflaging his true intentions not to compromise. While the Iranian charm offensive goes on, he said, the US should escalate sanctions in order to "precipitate an economic and financial crisis."