As many are boasting of a “new spring” in the recent visit paid to Europe by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the regime in Tehran is desperately attempting to fit in and find a place in the competitive global economy with all its ups and downs. Rouhani visited Italy and France in a new charm offensive to take in the new “warm words and deals” as Reuters put it, especially after the lifting of international sanctions. The question we now face is that can we truly trust Iran’s intentions as genuine, or as always, a different purpose is at play behind all this?
Despite all the economic bonanza over multi-billion dollar deals, many voices are heard criticizing the honesty of Rouhani and the mainstream theocratic regime sitting on the throne in Tehran. Has Iran truly stepped into the path of moderation, or is the regime simply attempting to deceive the international community to lift its crippling pressures?
To understand this regime, why not begin with the very Hassan Rouhani who claims to be a moderate. The truth is Rouhani has been involved within the ruling establishment for the entire 37 years of this regime’s existence. His record shows him holding senior positions amongst the ranking mullahs and his involvement in all of the Iranian regime’s atrocities during the past four decades goes beyond doubt. For many years he served as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and is known very well for his decision to open fire on student protests rocking the nation back in 1999. Rouhani also boasts about fooling the West during the 2003 nuclear negotiations, in which he represented Iran’s delegation.
In more recent times, we have to realize that Rouhani cannot meet specific criteria, and thus Iran cannot be considered having a positive role in today’s world. In Iran under Rouhani arbitrary detention is everyday business, censorship is rampant and human rights violations have gone off the roof. Ever since Rouhani was elected back in 2013 the United Nations has in numerous reports emphasized the dire human rights crisis. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on Iran, has noted in numerous reports how the status quo of human rights in Iran is worse under Rouhani than his controversial hardline predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Rouhani represents a country whose so-called judiciary sent more than 1,000 individuals to the gallows back in 2015 alone after hanging nearly 700 in the first six months, and 2016 was launched with numerous group executions, indicating this year is more of the same despite all the extravaganza after the nuclear deal and sanctions reliefs. Amnesty International has joined other leading human rights groups in highlighting the fact that executions have gone off the roof in Iran and targeted political prisoners, innocent inmates are denied proper due process, and those convicted for crimes allegedly committed during their minor years. And to those who argue that these executions are carried out by hardliners in Iran and Rouhani is no hardliner, it is worth noting that Rouhani himself has gone the limits in justifying these horrific executions, describing such measures as the implementation of the “divine law” and laws passed by Iran’s majlis (parliament) that supposedly represent the Iranian people.
Rouhani is also a senior official of a country that recently detained a number of American sailors, forcing them to their knees at gunpoint. And the “Supreme Leader” of the country Rouhani is whitewashing is none other than Ali Khamenei, who went the limits in hailing the notorious Revolutionary Guards for taking “brave” action aimed at humiliating the U.S. sailors in an act that we should not forget was a blatant violation of international law.
“It was the divine will that sent the Americans straying into our territorial waters, only to be promptly captured with their hands behind their heads,” Khamenei said. And rest assured that Rouhani dares not to take a single step forward without his blessing.
American columnist Anne Applebaum put it eloquently in her recent Washington Post column saying, “Hassan Rouhani is not Mikhail Gorbachev, and this is not a perestroika moment. Iran is not opening up or becoming more Western or somehow more liberal,” … “the nature of the Iranian regime has not altered at all.”