Hassan Rouhani (right in photo), who was re-elected to Iran's presidency by a landslide in May, has vowed to continue his efforts to end Iran's economic and diplomatic isolation from its potential international partners - that's an ambitious agenda for an executive with relatively little power. The role of the presidency in post-revolution Iran has traditionally been one of middle management, with the incumbent tasked with implementing the orders of the unelected supreme leader (left in photo). So what have Rouhani and his four presidential predecessors really done?
Iran's president is charged with appointing and chairing the Cabinet, which consists of his deputy, a chief of staff and 18 ministers, who lead such traditional bureaucratic departments as Agriculture, regular Culture, Energy, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Sports. There are also 11 vice presidents appointed by the executive; Rouhani had pledged to give women more representation in government and appointed a few to these relatively inconsequential positions.
The president also serves as second in command to Iran's top general, or amir, when it comes to military decisions. Though Rouhani has billed himself as a reformer, he has not publicly opposed Iran's interventions and proxy wars in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
States of emergency
Iran's president does have the authority to declare a state of emergency or impose martial law as needed. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stopped short of using this power to suppress protests that followed his disputed 2009 re-election. Though the European Union and other international bodies cited irregularities, Ahmadinejad did send security forces to the streets to battle voters. Over the course of roughly eight months, more than 72 people were killed, according to the opposition - the government claims that the total was half that - and authorities say they arrested 4,000 people.
Rouhani has carved out a niche when it comes to international relations. His desire for dialogue with the United States, the EU, Britain, Russia, China and France has led to an easing of sanctions and hopes among young Iranians for a more lucrative economic future.
mkg/ (Reuters, AFP, AP)