New Internationalist

Talk of Iran’s new, moderate future is premature

Supporters of President Rouhani [Related Image]
Rouhani supporters had high hopes for a more moderate future for Iran. Tabarez2 under a Creative Commons Licence

The world may be debating the significance of a non-handshake between Presidents Obama and Rouhani , but it was already clear earlier this month, when Russia forced Obama to backtrack on his much publicised ‘red line’ regarding Syria, that the US President does not have the bottle for further conflict in the region. As the ‘red line’ was blurred beyond repair, Iran looked on with interest – seeing, no doubt, a green light for themselves. They can now look to manoeuvre in such a way as to allow boundaries to be stretched.

Iran will see the result in Syria as an enormous success for itself and its pragmatic approach. In the battle for Syria, Iran has undoubtedly backed President Assad with significant military support by providing funds and weaponry. However, as a military strike loomed large, Iran publicly stepped away. Senior Iranian figures, including Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, accused Assad of using chemical weapons against his people, while others spoke of aid to the Syrian people rather than support for Assad.

Look at the Iranian regime’s recent manoeuvres over its nuclear weapons programme and you can see that, rather than Rouhani turning over a new (moderate) leaf, he is a pragmatist. In public, the new President is making all the right noises. He has transferred nuclear policy to the Foreign Ministry and he has extended a hand of friendship to the world in voicing support for nuclear negotiations.

Talk is rife now of Tehran’s new moderate future. However, look more closely at the reality and the desperation of many to find moderates within the Iranian regime should worry us all. Tehran has not overnight become a moderate regime willing to change its path. The regime continues to silence opposition with arrest, torture and execution. It continues to push forward with its nuclear ambitions while at the same time arming and funding terrorist groups.

This is not a moderate future, but rather a highly pragmatic one.  The regime knows all too well that a Western leadership desperate for dialogue at any cost is a Western leadership which it can happily trample over with the promise of negotiations. During the time of President Khatami the West was all too happy to turn a blind eye to the suppression and suffering of the Iranian people if it felt Tehran would turn its back on its nuclear ambitions. Today, once again, the West appears happy to do the same. Falling for the Iranian regime’s new approach without actual results will have deadly consequences for us all. And for Iranian exiles in Iraq those deadly consequences have already been felt.

Iran has taken the West’s weakness in dealing with Syria and the desperation for dialogue as an opportunity to strike, with devastating consequences for the Iranian opposition. As the world discussed Syria’s chemical weapons attack, Tehran was busy using its proxies in Iraq to massacre members of Iran’s largest opposition group on 2 September. The defenceless residents of Camp Ashraf were brutally murdered by Iraqi security forces. YouTube videos show unarmed individuals being gunned down, with others handcuffed and executed with a shot to the head, leaving 52 murdered. The silence on the attack against Camp Ashraf is reprehensible. To turn a blind eye as defenceless civilians are massacred in this way in a land the West supposedly ‘freed’ is unacceptable.

We must not fall for the tricks of the Iranian regime again. We have a clear duty to protect these Iranians at Camp Liberty and Camp Ashraf and we must do so immediately. President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron should call for the immediate release of the seven hostages taken from Camp Ashraf. They must further call for a UN armed force to immediately be based at Camp Liberty to protect this group of Iranians.

Turn a blind eye to this massacre in Iraq and the message we send the people of the Middle East is that the West is divided, weak and unwilling to support their democratic demands. The future will be an emboldened and nuclear-armed Iran ready to dominate the Middle East.

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  1. #1 Alison S 25 Sep 13

    This isn’t the fashionable view in the press right now but it’s spot on! Iran’s President is buying time, just as Putin did for Assad.

    More needs to be written about the massacre at Camp Ashraf which was at the behest of Iran's new 'moderate' leader!!!

  2. #2 Elena 25 Sep 13

    Excellent article. People are saying that he is moderate yet over 200 people have been executed since his inauguration in July. The silence surrounding what happened at Camp Ashraf is shameful. It is imperative that word is spread and that more people know what is really happening behind the facade. Thank you for highlighting.

  3. #3 Rose 25 Sep 13

    Couldn't agree more. The West's back-tracking on Syria and placatory stance in response to Rouhani's mask of reason only serve to send a message to Iran that its behaviour will go unchecked.

    More light must be shed on the details of the brutal Ashraf massacre. Where are the 7 hostages taken that day?

    The West should be bringing pressure to bear, not indulging in showcase talking shops.

  4. #4 Satish Chandra 25 Sep 13

    On a story about Iran at iolDOTcoDOTza , someone using the name “Justice Schwart” posted the following comment:

    “India's nuclear capability is more of a threat to the world than what Iran is.”

    To this someone using the name “Lan Davis” replied:

    “Agreed, India should suffer the sanctions due to the damage it is doing to our planet with its ever growing population which in turn is creating food and water shortages. Increased pollution, increased deforestation. Migrant Indians are everywhere and are taking over communities all over the world.
    We need this to stop!!! Indians should stay in India.
    Then you have the cultural Caste system which is worse than Apartheid since it entrenched in Indian culture (ie, you cannot repeal a culture).”

    To this I replied:

    “Not to mention trafficking Indian children to Israel to be used as food:

    With Iran, Iraq and Syria deprived of any nuclear capabilities, Israel can start using their children as food.

    Indians by and large do stay in India -- only a tiny fraction has migrated out of India. Until the 19th century, travel by Indians outside India was considered polluting and was forbidden; both the young Mahatama Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were required to do a long penance and undergo purification before being allowed back into society on their return from England. It is the Europeans who have taken over and devastated the world -- entire continents such as North and South America, Australia and Africa that filth like you inhabit. How will India get rid of filth like you without nuclear weapons?”

    For India’s nuclear forces, getting rid of filth like Manmohan Singh and RAW -- collaborators with the European enemy -- is just as important as getting rid of European filth.

    Added later on September 24 ‘13: A column at bloombergDOTcom is headed “ Rohani’s Scared to Shake Obama’s Hand”. Actually, Iran’s refusal to shake Obama’s hand was due to what I said above. Within four hours of my saying the above, the news came that the Iranian president did not attend the lunch given by the UN Secretary General where his encounter with Obama was expected to occur and Iran said such an encounter will be too complicated. But Manmohan Singh is going running on all fours to Washington to attend a lunch for him by Obama with mountains of treachery in the nuclear and all other fields to offer to the Americans. While the rest of the world now recognizes India as the sole superpower as I said in my press release dated September 14 ‘13 (the text of which can be found at wwwDOTfacebookDOTcom/satishDOTchandraDOT90038), RAW, the RAW-controlled media and the rest of New Delhi continue to try to undermine it in service of their European masters and have to be destroyed along with Washington and New York.

    Satish Chandra

  5. #5 Laila Jazayeri 26 Sep 13

    Thank you for publishing this moving and enlightening article. I absolutely agree with the writer. These people are the best of Iranians who have stood against the theocratic regime of Iran for more than three decades, sacrificing everything in life. unfortunately and despite the limited sanctions on Iran, the West still follows the ’policy of appeasement’ towards the Iranian regime and especially with the coming to power of the new fake president in Iran, Rowhani who has been involved in more than 3 decades in almost all the crimes of the regime against the Iranian people and a large number of terrorist attacks abroad including directly involved in the bombing of Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
    Of course they all know this massacre has been under direct orders of Iraqi Prime Minister Maleki at the behest of Iranian regime who views Ashraf and Liberty people as its no one enemy. But admitting to this will be a hostile attitude towards Iran that is practically running Iraq through its puppet Prime Minister Maleki.
    When is the West going to wake up to the realities and correct its counter productive policy of appeasement towards the ruthless regime of Iran? It is time to end this policy and embarrass Iranian people aspirations for democratic regime change? It is outrageous that the UN, the US and our own government in the UK have practically done nothing to save these innocent but brave people.

  6. #6 saeid 26 Sep 13

    A very asstute article. The idea that Mr Rouhani is a moderate is utter nonsense and anyone who believes this does not understand the Islamic regime in Iran and there fascist interpretation of this religion.

    A government that takes its direction from this source will never change.

    The mullahs is Iran will never give women the same rights as men because there view of islam will never change.

    The mullahs in Iran believe it is there religious duty to spread there misplaced ideaology. Acquiring a nuclear bomb for them is not just a pragmatic approach to self presrvation but a religious duty.

    For what its worth we have been here before with the so called moderate president khatami of the 1990's we thought we could deal with him as well. We got nothing in return and Irans tentacles nopw spread from Iraq to Syria.

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