Report: Iranian President Hoping for Escalation With West

Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Despite declaring his intentions of continuing indirect talks with the U.S. on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has insinuated he would “feel comfortable” with an escalation with the West at this time.

According to a report in the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat daily, recent operations in the Persian Gulf and Lebanon reflect the Iranian president’s interest, at least at this point in time, in a confrontation aimed at imbuing his new government with a certain prestige among radicals in Iran.

The newspaper also chose to emphasize the ongoing war crimes trial in Sweden concerning executions Raisi had a hand in, including the execution of over 5,000 opponents of the regime in prisons across the country in the 1980s.

It quoted Sanam Vakil, deputy director of the Middle East North Africa program at the U.K.’s Chatham House think tank, as saying: “The outcome of the trial could be particularly embarrassing for Raisi, making it difficult for him to engage in direct talks with European states.”