Rouhani stretching “moderate image” thin

Iranian president Rouhani has enjoyed his “moderate” image for an extended amount of time. This aura endowed him with tremendous credit. Much of it due to the “echo chamber”  pushed by the Obama administration, leading up to the nuclear deal. No doubt, this portrayed image contributed significantly to the consensus in going forward with the nuclear deal.

Many journalists have followed the line loyally, writing up articles and papers terming Rouhani the “moderate” and the “reformer”. See for instance USA Today article stating “moderate Rouhani wins major victory“, or CBS calling him  “a moderate cleric” or CNN describing “Rouhani, a moderate, who played a victory for the moderates“.

There were some profilers who mistrusted the “moderate” image of Rouhani, raising factual contradictions, among them the fact that Rouhani has always served as a loyal servant of Iran’s Islamic revolution dedicated to the preservation of its repressive theocratic regime, is the founder of Iran’s nuclear program and actively functions in the defense of Iran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic pursuits. One example of such a profile of Rouhani can be seen in the paper entitled Hassan Rouhani: Ideology and policies.

Rouhani tries his utmost to preserve his moderate image, reaping the public opinion privileges and political leverage entailed, regardless of his achievements and actions.  In his most recent UN General Assembly address, he stated: “moderation is the inclination as well as the chosen path of the great Iranian people”, hinting that he is the answer to their aspiration. Some in the press picked up on this ploy, like the article in the New York Post titled Iran prez’s laughable pose as lover of peace.

The problem is that even Rouhani himself challenges his own moderate image. Iran News Update, in a piece titled Rouhani speaks at missile unveiling further undermining his moderate image, brings attention to some Rouhani sentences like “we will promote our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary. We seek no one’s permission to defend our land”. The piece justifies “widespread criticism of Western leaders’ efforts to characterize Rouhani as a relative moderate within the Iranian regime”. Reuters in its report notes that Rouhani, when undisguised, snubs the US and the international community by stating Iran will strengthen its missile capability.

It would seem that the double talk and double game Rouhani is playing has been stretched very thin, perhaps too thin. The seams are fraying.

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Tehran’s Duality on Terrorism & Democracy

With the recent twin terror attacks in Iran, hitting at the parliament and the mausoleum, Iran revealed a new rhetoric on terrorism, which is reserved only for them.

When President Trump condemned the twin attacks, extended condolences yet suggested that Iran shares some of the blame for the terror attacks, by stating “those who sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote”, Iran responded with a vengeance.  Foreign Minister Zarif in a tweet rejected the notion entirely while terming Trumps’ words “repugnant”. As reported in firstpost, Zarif continued to give his own explanation for the attack rationalizing that the attackers targeted the “seat of democracy”.

For decades the Iranian regime has preached that Europe and the Western world are to blame for the terrorist attacks perpetrated against them. Even in the face of the most recent London attack, the supreme leader related to the events claiming that Europe has brought the Islamic state terrorism on itself through its intervention in the Middle East. In his tweet (June 5) he stated “this is the inferno they set up and has now backfired on them”. Why is it legitimate to analyze thus in the European context, yet repugnant in the Iranian context?

Furthermore, to interpret the attacks in Iran as targeting “the seat of democracy”, is bordering on delusional science fiction. Iran is a Democtatorship. It is a country which holds presidential elections but which allows a non-elected body to disqualify candidates in advance if they do not represent the values of the Islamic Revolution. It is a country which has publicly elected officials in government and in parliament but they are subordinate to the unelected regime, and specially the unelected Supreme Leader and his military backing, the IRGC. It is a country in which opposition leaders who tried to bring about change are under house arrest without trial. Whether Zarif likes it or not, Iran is a ruled by a theocracy, a “deep state” of power that is unelected but chosen by the regime itself.

To twist things even further, the supreme leader recently dismissed any chance of reconciliation with the US due to the fact that the US is the cause of instability in the ME and founded upon terror and cruelty – never mind the fact that the West and most Arab states claim that it is Tehran which is the cause of instability in the Middle East now.


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Saint Rouhani doesn’t need facts

Following on the path of Javad Zarif’s op-ed in the New York Times to “rid the world of Wahabbism”, Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the NAM meeting in Venezuela was filled with cynical half-truths and lies which are totally irrelevant of the facts. In fact, he sounded as if he is the president of a neutral country such as Sweden or Switzerland and not a country which is fueled by a strategy of expansionism, is involved in two proxy wars, is accused of numerous efforts to meddle in its neighbors affairs, is openly supporting terrorist organizations, is increasing the sectarian Shiite-Sunni divide, is oppressing women and sectarian/religious minorities etc…

Rouhani’s speech is all “peace and love” but is devoid of being factual:

  • Tehran is fighting “against extremism and terrorism” – Anyone mention Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and even al-Qaeda and the Taliban? OK, so one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, but doesn’t it bother Rouhani that Hezbollah is designated as a terrorist organization even by the Arab League? And doesn’t it seem strange that Tehran is supporting al-Qaeda (before and after 9/11)?
  • Tehran rejects the “hegemonic and domineering inclinations” of superpowers – OK but this obviously doesn’t include Moscow, of course, which has become Tehran’s BFF . Rouhani obviously knows that Russia is a superpower and yet, he doesn’t have qualms in allowing Russia to support Assad in his civil war while incessantly warning the US to stay out of the conflict. Perhaps what he really means is “Western superpowers”…that makes more sense.
  • Tehran rejects the support of the “West together with the East” – That was Khomeini’s motto to keep Iran unaligned and independent. Since then, the regime in Tehran has never looked to the West but wait, isn’t Moscow in the East? And isn’t Beijing, another superpower being wooed by Tehran also in the East?
  • Tehran is always ready to help out the “righteous” – Ahhhhhhhh…define “righteous”. Tehran’s definition of the “righteous” just happens to be Shiites and anti-Americans wherever they may be. That doesn’t include Syrian civilians who sided with the rebels against Assad (184,000 deaths to date). It also doesn’t include Yemenites who sided with the government against the Houthis. That doesn’t include the members of the Iranian resistance wherever they may be.
  • Tehran does not interfere “in the internal affairs of “other countries” – Yeah, yeah…Let’s start with Lebanon which has become a satellite state of Tehran through the empowering of Hezbollah. Move on to Syria in which Tehran chose to support Assad who doesn’t represent all of the Syrian people since the start of the civil war which was sparked by his unwillingness to hold free national elections. How about supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen to overthrow the government there? Or empowering Shiite militants in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait,  and Nigeria? Not interfere? Tehran is the king of the “Meddle East“.
  • Tehran is avoiding “wounds inflicted every day on innocent bodies” – Wow…he obviously forgot about include the hundreds of thousands of civilian victims of Assad, Hezbollah, the Iranian army and Russia in Syria and the thousands of victims of Houthi rebels in Yemen. It also doesn’t include the 30,000 political prisoners who were massacred in 1988 by the regime. Oh, and the thousands of Iranians who are imprisoned, interrogated, tortured, flogged and executed for not toeing the regime’s line.
  • Tehran operate on a “policy of moderation, prudence and interaction to settle conflicts” – So that’s what it’s called. “Moderation” and “prudence” explain Tehran’s military involvement in Syria and in Yemen. They also explain Tehran’s meddling and subversive efforts in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Wait…Saudi Arabia…yep, “moderation” and “prudence” explains the latest vicious rhetoric by Khamenei and the rest of the regime vilifying the Saudi leadership and the Saudi religion.
  • Tehran is a “pioneer in engaging in dialogue and talks” – OK, that really depends when the “pioneering” began. Until Rouhani was elected, Tehran consistently rejected any dialogue with the West since 1979. Ahmadinejad’s presidency was notorious for ignoring calls to negotiate and antagonizing possible negotiating partners. Tehran ignored the calls of the IAEA and the UN to hammer out a nuclear deal for years. Perhaps Rouhani should have said “pioneer since 2013”. That’s about right.
  • Tehran is trying to create a “new order” through “cooperation and the collective participation of all the neighbors” – What “new order”? Well, as Zarif pointed out, Iran is different from all countries because it wants to change the “international order”. By this he was referring to the goal and duty, imbedded within the Iranian constitution, to Export the Revolution to the “oppressed”. And then there’s the Global Islamic Awakening against the West or the New Islamic Civilization Khamenei loves to fantasize about. And how about the “cooperation and collective participation”? The people of Syria didn’t ask to import the new order, neither did the government of Yemen and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States aren’t exactly “cooperating” with Iran in developing such a “new order”.
  • Tehran is against “interference of outside powers” in internal affairs – Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Tehran? Against interference? What’s really peculiar is that Tehran doesn’t see itself as “interfering” nor does it see itself as an “outside power”. And yet Tehran is “interfering” as an “outside power” in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia etc…. Hell, it even invited the “interference” of an “outside power” when it agree to allow Moscow to support Assad in his civil war. Seriously, how can “Exporting the Revolution” not interfere with governments who do not want such a revolution to occur in their countries?

Are you getting the picture here? Rouhani is telling the NAM states what they want to hear: That Tehran is run by a peace-loving regime, is unaligned with any super-power, is fighting extremism and terrorism and is averse to interfere in any country’s internal issues. With such a great message, who cares about the facts?

Mr. Rouhani, it’s OK to believe that if you repeat the same lies enough times, people will believe you. But if you don’t take responsibility for your problems and weaknesses, at some point, your credibility is bound to plunge. Just as in the case of Zarif’s attack on Wahabbism, it’s easy to agree with many of the points that you shared in your speech – if all nations, including Iran, would act according to how you described your regime’s purported guidelines, the world would definitely be a better place to live in. Until then, remember, you can fool some of the people some of the time but you can’t fool all the people all the time.


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Zarif is “Breathtaking in his Hypocrisy”

zarif liar

Tehran is “blessed” with quite a few politicians who are exemplary at saying one thing and meaning something totally different.

Zarif, who until now had steered clear of the issue of human rights, just like Rouhani, finally opened his mouth on the issue and the results could have been funny if they were not so sad: According to Zarif, not only are people in Iran “not jailed for their opinions” but it seems that Tehran actually has a “plan to improve human rights”.

Zarif is “breathtaking” in his hypocrisy” as was headlined in this article.

“Freedom of Opinion” in Tehran

facehang 2

Let’s start with the first statement: Does this mean that all of the political dissidents, journalists, bloggers, activists and opposition leaders that have been or still are in jail (or house arrest) – simply don’t exist?

  • Has Sohel Arabi, a facebook blogger on death row because of posting content critical of the regime, ceased to exist?
  • Has Nasrin Sotoodeh, a lawyer activist imprisoned for attending a protest agains tacid throwing at women, evaporated?
  • Are the hundreds of social media users picked up through the government spying system “Ankaboot” (Spider) non existent?
  • Have the opposition leaders Karroubi and Mousavi who are under house arrest since 2009 disappeared?

The list is as long as the people in jail (or released from jail) but you get the point. Zarif would want us to believe that these people are in  jail because they broke the law and not because of their opinions. But what is the difference between the regime and its laws if expressing an opinion diverse from the regime’s is illegal?

Tehran’s “Plan” for Human Rights

human rights 2

The last time Rouhani really said anything about changing the state of human rights in Iran was on his campaign trail to the presidency. But since he became president, he has focused on foreign policy or specifically, getting rid of the nuclear sanctions.

Rouhani is ready to talk about every issue you can think of, but when it comes to human rights, he simply zips up. His first year in office may have brought Iran out of isolation but the state of human rights went from bad to worst. In 2014, there were over 750 executions and 2015 is looking like a record breaker with over 1,000 estimated executions.

So what, exactl,y is this miraculous plan which is making human rights worst instead of better? Why isn’t this plan publicized in order to understand what exactly is being planned and what is the timeline? Don’t hold your breath for an answer….


Lies, Denials and Accusations

brothers in lies 2

In the context of lies, denials and accusations, the first that come to mind are the Larijani brothers-in-lies, Sadeq (judiciary chief) and Javad (human rights chief) who systematically deny that Iran even has a human rights problem. Here are a few snippets from Javad’s speech at the last UPR that might make someone think that Iran is actually Norway or New Zealand:

  • “The will of the people shall be the basis of authority of the government”.
  • Tehran “genuinely and meaningfully” involves its citizens “without any discrimination of any kind”.
  • Iran creates and maintains the “necessary measures for the protection of the rights of the vulnerable groups” (especially women and children).
  • There are no forced legal marriages of children in Iran.
  • All Iranian nationals are “equal before the law”, “have the right to choose their own lawyers” and can count on “the presumption of innocence”.
  • Iran prohibits the use of torture and arbitrary arrest.
  • Iran has “continuously worked for the promotion of human rights ” (with the UN).
  • Iran “adheres to renouncement of all forms of violence” and calls for unity in “combatting all forms of terrorism and extremism”.


Khamenei, #IranianLivesMatter

iranianlivesmatterKhamenei’s has developed a keen interest in the welfare of African Americans and Native Americans:  in a series of tweets, he rants on the evils of slavery, on the plight of Native Americans and African Americans, on the “arrogance” of the West, on colonialism etc…together with hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #NativeAmericanLivesMatter &  #WoundedKneeMassacre.

But Khamenei is not content to just criticize the West’s historical problems: besides his usual praises of Islam and the Prophet, he “found it in his heart” to praise the teachings of Jesus and Mary in order to emphasize the “cruelty” of the US in respect to the teachings of Christianity.

Glaringly and cynically absent, of course, were tweets concerning the welfare of the oppressed in Iran.


khamenei tweetsPerhaps, Khamenei simply chose to believe his Judicial Chief, Sadeq Larijani, and Human Rights Chief, Javad Larijani, who state that there are no problems of human rights in Iran. Their denials are at their worst since they deny the horrible experiences and lives of the hundreds of thousands of victims of repression in Iran. These are the same Larijanis who continue to treat any criticism and reports by governments and NGO’s on the horrid state of human rights in Iran as being politicized attacks by the West.

Or perhaps,  Khamenei is so detached from his own people that he seems to care more about the fate of victims of racism in the US than the fate of oppressed  women, religious minorities, gays, opposition leaders, bloggers, journalists etc… in the Islamic State of Iran.

Or most probably, Khamenei is guilty of abusing the problems of human rights in the US as a political weapon to stir up hatred against the US by American minorities and by countries  critical of the US in general.

#MillionShadesOf Racism

shadesThere is racism in the US just as there is racism and discrimination all over the world without exception. Races, religions and sexes are simply brands with sets of beliefs and expectations that disregard the actual human beings within these brands. A brand is a short-cut for people to decide how to act and react to a certain brand without investigating each time. Each reader will have pre-conceived ideas about Muslims, Negroes, Italians, gays, women etc…that may have nothing to do with the people they are assigning these brands to.

A great example of this can be found in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink”: Gladwell, whose mother is black, takes a test on racism and finds out that he himself is racist in regards to blacks.

All of this doesn’t justify racism in any manner: it just puts racism into a “million shades of grey” perspective instead of just “black-white”. Nor does it mean that all incidents of racism are similar to each other.



Any act of racism should be viewed according to the following criteria:

  • Personal vs. Institutional Racism: It’s impossible to magically erase any thoughts/feelings of racism in every person in the world. It isn’t impossible to eradicate institutionalized racism through laws and constitutions. There is a huge difference between a racist police man (judge, politician…) and a racist police force (court, government…). Both are reprehensible but the latter is much worse.
  • Empowered vs. Defenseless Victims: Victims of racism should be able to fight back at their oppressors. Ideally, they should be able to freely communicate their plight through the media, to legally protest their cause and to take their oppressors to court. These are legalized freedoms that may not negate the actual acts of racism but they empower the victims to fight back for their rights. The freedom of the press, protests and litigation to fight back at racism may not negate the actual act of racism but each successful fight discourages racism in the future.
  • Improving vs. Worsening Trend: Each act of racism should be judged by its place on the scale of the trend in a specific environment to find out if it is representative of a growing norm in the future or a stubborn survivor of the past. Although the victim might not care about trends, they represent an important context to understand the specific act.

It’s time…

stop wasting time

  • for the regime in Tehran to admit to its inherent problems of human rights and to plan how to deal with racism in the future.
  • for Khamenei to listen to the plight of his own people instead of trying to highlight the plight of other nationals.

for the West to hold Iran accountable for its horrid state of human rights instead of believing populistic drivel meant to divert attention