Michael Nazir-Ali–Iran's Hassan Rouhani could be our best hope for peace

Which direction will Mr Rouhani take? The West is anxious to see how Mr Rouhani is to renew and augment his previous persona as chief negotiator for Iran on its nuclear ambitions. It will also want him to encourage negotiations between the Assad regime (which Iran supports) and the Syrian opposition. There will, similarly, be an expectation that Iran will use its influence to calm restive Shia populations in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia.

It should be recognised, once and for all, that the West’s interest in Iranian foreign policy cannot be separated from Iran’s internal security and human rights situation. There will be little progress in Iran’s relations with the international community without progress in its human rights policies and the gradual emergence of a more inclusive and plural society.

For some years, a general ferment has been building in Iranian society. The different elements that make this up are mutually antagonistic and finding a resolution among them will be one of the major challenges of this presidency.

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