President Rouhani’s speech at the UN Assembly exemplifies his leadership over the last year – great rhetoric with good wishes that are far removed from the actions of Tehran. It’s hard to believe him not because of what he says but especially because of what he wants us to ignore.
Here are a few examples of nicely worded phrases which contradict the reality of Iran.
Speaking about “violence and extremism” in the Middle East, he stated that their (ISIS’s) single goal is “the destruction of civilization, giving rise to Islamophobia and creating a fertile ground for further intervention of foreign forces in our region”. Of course, he doesn’t say a word about Tehran’s role in violence and extremism in the region (Syria is an obvious example), nor its vision of a global Islamic Awakening meant to destroy the West and its form civilization.
He went on to state that “certain states have helped creating it (extremism)” and that “certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen” while neglecting to mention that Tehran is a designated regional and global supporter of terror either through its elite Qods forces or through its various terrorist proxy organizations such as Hezbollah.
He then lamented on how these extremists, managed to distort “divine teachings to justify brutality and cruelty” and to “spill blood in the name of religion and behead in the name of Islam” and that “taking the life of a single innocent life is akin to killing the whole humanity” without acknowledging that Tehran is knee-deep in the blood of Iranians who have been harassed, tortured, amputated and executed (over 1,000 in his presidency alone) in the name of Islam creating some harsh similarities between Iran and ISIS.
Rouhani then spoke about “the strategic blunders of the West in the Middle-East, Central Asia, and the Caucuses…and improper interference in the developments in Syria” that “have turned these parts of the world into a haven for terrorists and extremists” despite the well-documented efforts of Tehran to support Assad and the Shiite ex-president of Iraq, Maliki, spurring on ISIS to its current rampage.
He warned that “the experience of creation of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and modern extremist groups have demonstrated that one cannot use extremist groups to counter an opposing state and remain impervious to the consequences of rising extremism” obviously omitting the terrorist organizations that Iran has created and supported to act as its proxy in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Bahrain, Kuwait etc…
Rouhani then placed himself in the spotlight by speaking about “moderate politicians and elites in our region who enjoy the confidence of their peoples” who are ” the true voices of moderation in the Islamic world” and “can take positions of active leadership by attracting the confidence of the people in their societies and establish the strongest national and international coalitions against violence.” What he “forgot” to mention is that being a so called “moderate” leader working within a radical regime has not helped him to accomplish any substantial changes in the state of human rights within Iran nor in its problematic nuclear program. Either you are not such a moderate or moderates within radical regimes are doomed to failure.
Warming up, Rouhani hit on the nuclear negotiations. While clear to all that his goal is the eroding of the crippling sanctions, Rouhani takes pains, as does Khamenei and other Iranian leaders, to state that the negotiations were not “a result of sanctions or threat but rather because of the will of our people“. Does he not understand that the will of his own people is the removal of the sanctions? He then tries to threaten that “any delay in arriving at a final agreement only raises the costs“. Those that pay the cost are the Iranian people. Is it not time to acknowledge that the constantly renewed deadlines in inking the deal are mainly due to the insistence on a military nuclear program, which the people really don’t need?
Furthermore, he placed a lot of emphasis on Iran’s “confidence building approach and our transparency in this process” even though the IAEA is still waiting for answers to the PMD’s (possible military dimensions) and is still blocked from inspecting the suspect military base at Parchin.
Finally, he closed his speech in stating that he won the presidential election based on “Foresight, Hope, and Prudent Moderation” and that the “notion that Iran seeks to control other Muslim countries in the region is a myth fanned in the recent years in the context of an Iranophobic project.” Rouhani may have presented to the West a vision of “hope and moderation” from Tehran but even he cannot ignore the extremist (“mythical”) view of his Supreme Leader, Khamenei, who envisions an Islamic Awakening that will lead to a “century of Islam” modeled on Iran’s experience and leadership.
With so many omissions and contradictions, it is hard to comprehend how he kept a straight face throughout his speech and it’s even harder to understand how anyone can take Rouhani at face value.