The daughter of one of the founders of the Islamic Republic of Iran has raised a ruckus in Tehran by saying she would have preferred a second term for U.S. President Donald Trump.
Faezeh Hashemi, the daughter of Iran’s former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, says she supported the Trump administration’s campaign of so-called "maximum pressure" against the clerical establishment in Tehran.
“For Iran, I would have liked to see Trump [re]-elected. But if I were an American, I wouldn’t vote for Trump,” Hashemi recently told the Iranian news site Ensafnews.com.
In 2018, Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. He also reimposed tough sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy and contributed to a crash of the national currency.
The Trump administration said the pressure was aimed at forcing Tehran back to the negotiating table for a deal that better addressed Washington’s concerns.
In response, Tehran has gradually reduced its commitments under the accord and expanded its nuclear-enrichment activities.
In her interview, Hashemi suggested Trump’s campaign of pressure could have brought policy changes from Tehran that would have benefited the Iranian people.
“Perhaps it would have led to some change -- as no matter what people do to push for reforms, nothing happens. Instead, [they] are repressed,” Hashemi, a former lawmaker, said in an apparent reference to deadly crackdowns against recent antiestablishment protests.
“Maybe if Trump’s pressure would have continued, we would have been forced to have change in some policies. And the change would have definitely benefited the people,” she said.
Hashemi described the approach of U.S. Democrats toward Iran’s Islamic establishment as “a bit lax.”
She also questioned Iran’s regional policies and the role played by General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the external Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) who was assassinated by a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.
“What is the result of [Qasem] Soleimani’s performance? What problem did he solve for us?” Hashemi asked in the interview.
Her comments brought widespread criticism from those who accused her of supporting “the cruelest” sanctions that have hurt ordinary Iranians.
Others criticized her expressed support for Trump, the man who ordered the assassination of Soleimani, a military leader portrayed by Iranian state media as a selfless national hero who'd advanced Iran’s regional interests.
Some Iranians have risen to Hashemi’s defense, saying she expressed views held by many who are desperate for change and fed up with the clerical establishment.
“She honestly reflected the feelings of millions of her compatriots who see no light at the end of their country’s dark political tunnel and were rightly or wrongly hoping that Trump’s pressure would create [an opportunity],” Tehran University professor Sadegh Zibakalam said on Twitter.
In contrast, her brother Mohsen Hashemi, who heads Tehran’s City Council, said she must apologize.
“I know that in recent years you, your family, and your child have faced mistreatment that may have led you to extremism and a departure from father’s moderate stance. But this is not a reason to put your hope in the president of a foreign country and claim that you’re independent,” Mohsen Hashemi wrote in an open letter addressed to his sister.
“Trump did nothing but threaten, sanction, break commitments, assassinate, and insult Iran,” he said, referring to Trump as “a gambler.”
But Rafsanjani's outspoken daughter refused to back down.
She responded to her brother’s letter by saying he has always been “conservative” in his stances.
She also accused her brother of being controlling.
Replying publicly in an open letter, she reiterated that she would have preferred Trump to be reelected because of his policies on Iran.
She argued that some individuals and factions in Iran are “more dangerous” than Trump due to their “bullying” attitudes and their “nonadherence to laws and principles.”
She said those individuals and factions have pushed the country to the brink through their “inefficiency” and “mismanagement.”
“Not only do they not pay attention to public demands, but they go out of their way to silence them,” she wrote in her letter.
Hashemi has faced pressure in the past for criticizing the system that her father helped establish.
In 2012, she was jailed for six months after being convicted of anti-regime propaganda.
She was also detained briefly in 2009 following the disputed Iranian presidential election that led to mass street protests and a brutal state crackdown.
In 2016, Hashemi came under fire for meeting the leader of the persecuted Baha'i faith with whom she had shared a cell in Tehran's Evin prison.
In 2018, she said "intimidation" and "fear" were the main things propping up Iran’s Islamic establishment.