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Hassan Rouhani

7 - Hassan Rouhani
President, Islamic Republic of Iran
Rouhani swept into office on promises to get Iran out from under sanctions that have crippled its economy and to normalize Tehran’s relations with the world. That’s exactly what he appears to be doing. He has agreed to negotiate away the country’s nuclear weapons program in exchange for permanent sanctions relief, and he’s even dialing back tensions with gulf states, withdrawing fighters from an island claimed by the United Arab Emirates. To some, Rouhani is too good to be true; to others, he represents the voice of change. No country has amassed a worse reputation over the past 30 years than Iran — a global pariah, a state sponsor of terrorism with Shiite proxy forces at the throat of every Sunni nation in the region. Oh, and it’s also been using its oil revenues to build a nuclear bomb. But if Iran changes from regional bad guy to something less bad, it could reduce a threat that has shaped US forces for decades. Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution swept Islamists to power, the United States has maintained a constant carrier, naval and air presence in the region at the cost of tens of billions of dollars a year. And weapons programs such as the Littoral Combat Ship are developed at least in part to neutralize Iran’s occasional threats to close the Strait of Hormuz.

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