(Repeats May 19 story without changes)
* Apprehension about security hawks helped Rouhani
* Rouhani, hardliners on "confrontation path"
* Guards want to defend business holdings
* Guards's Mideast role may sabotage overseas detente
By Parisa Hafezi
DUBAI, May 19 Iranians yearning for detente
abroad and greater freedoms at home have handed President Hassan
Rouhani a second term, but the hardline forces he defeated in
elections on Friday will remain defiantly opposed to his plans.
Rouhani built his resounding win in Friday's presidential
election by promising more economic opportunities for Iran’s
youth, as well as social justice, individual freedoms and
He also picked a rare public fight with hardliners close to
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, angrily criticising their
favourite in the race, Ebrahim Raisi, a judge seen by reformists
as representing the security state at its most fearsome.
The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), the country's most powerful
security force, are unlikely to forget his attacks, which played
to widespread frustration with a state that controls how
Iranians speak, gather and dress.
During one rally Rouhani referred to hardliners as "those
who cut out tongues and sewed mouths shut".
"Rouhani will face more pressure in his second term. The
Revolutionary Guards and other deep state organisations will
create more problems for him," said Meir Javedanfar, an
Iranian-born Israeli lecturer on Iran at the Interdisciplinary
Centre Herzliya in Israel.
"Since the 1979 revolution, whenever hardliners have lost a
political battle, they have tried to settle scores."
One way the Guards could re-assert their dominance at home
would be to stoke more confrontation abroad, where they provide
the shock troops for Iran's interventions in Iraq, Syria and
elsewhere in the Middle East.
"I would worry about the more confrontational policy of the
IRGC in the Persian Gulf ... and more confrontational policy
with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia," said Javedanfar.
Rouhani's allies say he still has the wherewithal to deliver
progress. An insider from within the upper echelons of power, he
has worked with the supreme leader Khamenei for decades.
"As the economy is among Khamenei's top priorities, Khamenei
will be obliged to give limited backing to Rouhani's liberal
economic policy like the cautious support he gave to the nuclear
deal," said an official, close to Rouhani's government.
Rouhani, first elected in a landslide in 2013 on a promise
to reduce Iran's diplomatic isolation, spent most of his
political capital in his first term on a nuclear agreement with
six powers that resulted in a lifting of most sanctions in
return for curbs on Tehran's nuclear programme.
Domestic social reforms were largely ignored. But in his
second term Rouhani will be under more pressure from his
followers to deliver on changes at home. He has now contributed
to that pressure himself by campaigning hard as a reformist,
particularly in the final days.
"Clearly it's going to be difficult to back down on some of
this stuff," said Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies
program at Stanford University.
Milani noted "the challenges he gave to the IRGC" as well as
promises to release reformist leaders held under house arrest.
"All of these are going to put him on a confrontation path if
not a collision course with the conservatives," he said.
The internal power struggle in the Islamic Republic is not
just a philosophical argument between reformists and hardliners,
but a battle to preserve the dominance of a theocratic
establishment with vested interests and privileges.
The Revolutionary Guards have an extensive business empire
to protect, and believe opening up to the West could lead to
regime change. Given the importance of the Guards to the
clerical leadership, few Iranians harbour high hopes that
Rouhani will to fulfil all his promises.
"Rouhani will likely be unwilling or unable to push back
against hardliners.... Those who want real change ... will once
again -- and most unfortunately -- be stuck between a rock and a
hard place," said Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at
Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Still, the prospect of victory by Raisi, who was one of four
judges in the 1980s that approved the death sentences of
thousands of political prisoners, was enough to drive even
doubtful Iranians out to vote for Rouhani in force.
"Iranians are perhaps not overly optimistic that Rouhani can
move the country forward, but at least he didn't want to drive
the country backward," Karim Sadjadpour, senior fellow at the
Carnegie Endowment who focuses on Iran, told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by
William Maclean and Peter Graff)