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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Iran Nuclear Threat Returns

As the financial benefits of the JCPoA continue to elude Iran due to sanctions unrelated to the nuclear issues (terrorism, human rights etc…), the nuclear issues are moving back to front stage. Tehran is threatening that it would “resume large-scale uranium enrichment” if the US doesn’t free up all sanctions against Iran even though all of the nuclear-related sanctions were lifted on time. In fact, the US has become one of Iran’s major lobby groups in the world, openly calling for world businesses to do business with Iran even if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei banned over 227 US corporations from Iran.

To make matters worse, the reports from the IAEA since the implementation of the JCPoA are not helping to blow away the fears of a militarized nuclear program in Iran: the reports emanating from Iran are less detailed and murkier despite the promise for more “transparency” and allow for what President Barack Obama said in order to reassure the world: “this deal is not built on trust; it is built on verification”. The reports lack in-depth data and lingering questions are left unanswered such as the exact whereabouts of Iran’s stockpiles of Uranium.

Furthermore, the IAEA tested soil samples from Parchin, which were unprecedentedly taken from the site not by IAEA officials but by Iranian officials,   produced two different types of man-made Uranium giving reason to believe that tests on nuclear weapons were carried out there in the past. Parchin remains highly suspicious according to the IAEA satellite pictures show evidence of a massive clean-up, evidence that was backed up by the IAEA’s only visit to Parchin in 2015. Tehran, of course, denies any wrong-doings and refuses to allow further inspections of the base.

This refusal is an example of the growing differences between how the JCPoA was understood by the West at its signing and how it’s being interpreted in Iran today. Visits to “suspicious” sites, which was part of the JCPoA to allow IAEA officials “access where necessary, when necessary”, remains another point of contention since the IAEA has not reported on visits to any such sites.

But the problems do not begin nor end with the IAEA. The JCPoA included specified clauses which would forbid the testing of ballistic missiles “designed to be capable of” carrying a nuclear payload. The fact is that since the signing of the JCPoA, Iran has carried out three ballistic missile test that we know of. The US and the UN warned Iran that the missile tests were a breach of the JCPoA but these allegations were hotly contested by Iran’s FM Javad Zarif, the chief architect of the deal: the JCPoA, he says “doesn’t call upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles, or ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads … it calls upon Iran not to test ballistic missiles that were “designed” to be capable….that word (“designed”) took me about seven months to negotiate, so everybody knew what it meant“. This issue was weakened further by the weak wording in which the UN “calls upon” Iran to desist from testing missiles and not “prohibiting” the missile tests. US Secretary of State Johan Kerry tried to rectify the wording by asking Iran to rewrite this clause in the deal but he was brusquely rejected by Tehran’s defense minister who called it “nonsense”.

Other outstanding issues include the stockpiles of heavy water at the Arak plant which were meant to block the possibility of a “Plutonium path” to a nuclear bomb and more importantly, the estimates of Iran’s “break-out” time (to build a bomb) is still being disputed. The Obama administration sold the deal by claiming that it would extend the “break-out” time to one year but the estimates are now placed at only 7 months.

All of these issues point to a growing distrust on both sides on the validity of the JCPoA. This distrust is enhanced by none other than Khamenei himself: the issuer of the infamous “nuclear fatwa” and an ardent denier of Iran’s plans to militarize its nuclear program in the past, present or future, is so disenchanted with the nuclear deal that he continues to add fuel to the fire of fears. In a speech to the Assembly of Experts entitled “With Power, We Can Take From the Enemy (the US/West)“, he made it clear that Iran has mastered the potential to enrich Uranium to 20%, emphasizing that “if a country is able to bring itself to 20%, from there until the 90%-99% (level needed to build a nuclear bomb) is an easy task, there isn’t a long way (left to go). They (the world powers) know this. The Islamic Republic has progressed on this path”.

The fact that Khamenei places so much emphasis on the ideal of martyrdom makes any thoughts of a nuclear bomb in his hands a nightmare of global proportions.

The West, especially the US is now stuck between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”: If it reneges on the deal and slaps back sanctions, Khamenei will follow on his threat to “burn the deal” and will definitely increase the enrichment of Uranium which will pressure the West into deciding whether to wage war on Iran or wait until it builds a nuclear bomb…both options are scary since they can easily lead to World War 3.

The other alternative is to play into Khamenei’s raging paranoia of a “soft war” meant to increase “foreign influence” in Iran through allowing foreign businesses and investments into the Iranian economy. As Kerry stated, “doing business is one of the best ways to create interests and vested purpose, if you will, in furthering transformation“. This strategy is surely a winner in the long run but it requires that Iran remain stable and open to the world for a long time since foreign businesses remain wary of investing in Iran as long as the regime remains volatile.

As long as President Hassan Rouhani remains in power, such a strategy may succeed since Rouhani has placed great emphasis on attracting foreign investments despite Khamenei’s repeated calls to maintain a “resistance economy” as if the JCPoA were not signed. And even if Rouhani does win the 2017 elections, it must be noted that his ability to steer Iran to a less “Revolutionary” path is severely limited by, once again, Khamenei, who is proud to view himself as a “Revolutionary” rather than a politician – a fact which helped Henry Kissinger to say that Iran has to decide “whether it is a nation or a cause“.

Until then, the world will have to keep on holding its breath and hope that Iran will choose peace with the world instead of trying to fulfil Khamenei’s ambitions for a “Global Islamic Awakening” which could be powered by a nuclear war.

 

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Misinterpreting the JCPoA to Death

Misinterpretation has been a constant plague for the nuclear deal with Iran. It began at the first round of negotiations and it continues to this day. Why? Because regardless of all the millions of words in the negotiations, the Geneva accord and finally the JCPoA, the real deal remained  unwritten and unsigned and there was a veritable chasm between both sides which was never really bridged.

Tehran and the P5+1 all wanted the nuclear deal in order to finally extricate Tehran from its global pariah/hero status (depending on who was looking) but Tehran wanted the deal to maintain its status quo in regards to the nuclear program in its entirety, its military might within Iran and within countries it was fighting in, its revolutionary ideals which encouraged Tehran to export the revolution to other states and specially it anti-American sentiment. Within the P5+1, there emerged two very different camps: the Russian/Chinese camp which just wanted to get the deal inked and the US/West camp which placed more weight on Tehran’s intentions than on the content of the deal. As time ticked-tocked on, the discrepancies between all of the co-signees of the JCPoA turned into larger misinterpretations, some genuine and some politically motivated.

 

One Step Forward, One Step Back

Each round of negotiations ended with the habitual goodwill pictures followed by misunderstandings, double-talk and accusations. Every step forward heralded, sometimes within hours, a few steps back to the pre-Rouhani-constructive-engagement period, back to the Ahmadinejad era in which Iran was the enemy of the US and vice versa. It might be a “fact-sheet” from Washington which would highlight possible (mis)interpretations or a letter from Khamenei in Tehran which would outline his “red lines”  or  a speech in parliament or congress in Tehran/Washington which would place suspicions on the intentions of each side.

Tehran claimed it could enrich beyond the “5%” limit for research purposes while Washington said no. Tehran claimed it could maintain its heavy water plant operational despite the fact that this could offer a “plutonium route” to the bomb while Washington said no. Tehran claimed that the underground nuclear enrichment base in Fordow would remain operational while Washington said…no. Tehran claimed that all the sanctions had to be lifted immediately while Washington stood to its guns and said, once again, no. There was never anything simple or “black and white” about the deal – it was always shape-shifting, adapting to whoever was talking at the moment. Too many articles within the deal seemed open to misinterpretations, whether they were genuine or politically motivated.

Finally the deal was inked. Once again, within days, Khamenei went on his anti-American rants, IRGC generals issued their anti-western threats and the White House had to explain to Americans that just because Khamenei called the US the “Great Satan”, that he banned 244 American brands and that he supports the “Death to America” calls, the JCPoA was still good for America. Congress huffed and puffed and promised to blow the deal down but Obama threatened to use his presidential veto to uphold the deal which he thought would become his shining legacy. As sanctions were lifted, alarmists in the West pointed out that the money unfrozen by the lifting of the sanctions would be allocated to fund terrorism and subversion and the rhetoric from Tehran only fueled this sentiment: The regime in Tehran seemed happy that sanctions were gone but wanted everyone to know that it had not lost its revolutionary ideals nor its regional ambitions.

The tide swayed towards Iran: The sanctions were lifted, the trade delegations were flying in, Rouhani and  Zarif were welcomed in Western capitals all over the world and it looked like the regime in Tehran had managed to hoodwink the powers of the all of the P5+1 governments, especially the White House. In Tehran, the moderates, led by Rouhani fought it out with the hardliners led by Khamenei himself and the elections for Majlis/parliament and for the Assembly of Experts proved that there were definitely two voices emanating from Tehran.

And then, misinterpretations increased…

 

Missiles take center stage

During all the years of negotiations, the US tried to include other issues in the JCPoA: There were efforts to introduce issues such as terrorism, human rights etc… but these were efficiently barred from the deal by Tehran which maintained that the deal was focused only on the nuclear issue. The US did manage to include Tehran’s missile program in the JCPoA: “Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology”. It’s important to note that the JCPoA doesn’t “forbid” but “calls upon” Iran to “not undertake” the testing such missiles and the definition of the “capability of delivering nuclear weapons” is also murky at best since Tehran claims it is not trying to build a nuclear weapon at all.

True to form, Tehran launched some long-range missile tests along with statement which reflected the hardline stance of Tehran: Tehran might have signed a nuclear agreement which it planned to uphold to the letter but nothing else in Iran would change and Tehran would keep on involving itself in its neighbor’s affairs and would keep on threatening Israel. That’s when the White House slapped some more missile-related sanctions which reminded Tehran that the deal really was only on the nuclear program and that non-nuclear sanctions were legitimate forms of pressure for what seemed to Washington as illegitimate actions on the part of Tehran.

The regime in Tehran felt free to launch missiles with threats against Israel written on them quite simply because most people in Iran felt that they didn’t need to heed what was coming out of Washington once Moscow was placing its bets on Tehran. Washington pointed out that the missile tests were in violation of the JCPoA but Tehran wasn’t listening. But what nobody in Tehran really took into account was the fact that foreign investors and global banks were not as quick to discount the US as irrelevant. Trade delegations from the West came and went, MoU’s were signed, smiling pictures were shared but money wasn’t making it through the barrier of current US sanctions and the threat of sanctions in the future.

Now it was Tehran’s turn to cry foul by claiming that the US was violating the deal by “urging” investors to stay away from Iran. What made matters worse was the fact that Rouhani was betting on the influx of foreign investments to save the Iranian economy while Khamenei kept on promoting his “resistance economy” and as long as foreign investors shied away from writing those checks, Rouhani was losing ground to the hardliners.

 

 

The spirit vs. the letter



One might say that the spirit of the nuclear deal was dead before being born. The spirit of the deal, the intentions of both sides, remained stuck in the paranoia held between Washington and Tehran, a paranoia which began in 1979 and has remained intact with the regime in Tehran and the Republican party in Washington to this day. A deal might have been signed and some of the leaders in both countries might be open to a comprehensive rapprochement but Iran and the US were not destined to become friends or allies in the near future. The breaking of ranks within the P5+1 only increased the misinterpretations: although the JCPoA was negotiated and inked by the P5+1 as a group, there was no clear unity within the P5+1 regarding Iran and the nuclear deal. Washington found itself at odds not only with Moscow but with Paris, London and Berlin as well, all of whom wanted to be at the front of the line to enter the gates of Iran’s economy.

Once again, both sides spoke about violations by the other side and the US tried to force the UNSC into agreeing that Iran had violated the JCPoA but Russia wasn’t going to let the US come between itself and its new ally and business partner. Instead, Moscow joined Tehran in saving Assad in Syria and planned to increase its regular and military trade to Tehran. Talks about circumventing the dollar and dealing in Roubles led to more agreements and more military deals including the sales of an arsenal of S-300 missiles and of Sukhoi SU-30 jet fighters. The conflict of interest between the P5+1 members became all too clear with Washington and Moscow leading the opposing sides.

So who is violating the JCPoA? Washington is pointing fingers at Tehran and Tehran is pointing fingers at Washington while Rouhani keeps getting weaker and Obama is on his way out. The deal is being misinterpreted to death as more and more leaders are criticizing the deal for not really creating the basis for old animosities to be buried. The defenders of the deal on both sides can point to the success of diplomacy but they cannot eradicate the deadly virus of mutual paranoia.

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Tehran Blames US Instead Of Itself

The latest accusations from Tehran blaming the US for not upholding the JCPoA (UNSC 2231) by “warning” Western investors about the risks of investing in Iran is “strange”, to say the least, for four simple reasons:

  • Non-nuclear-related sanctions: It’s strange that Tehran is blaming the US’s “warnings to investors” the lack of foreign investments in Iran when it is actually other UNSC sanctions related to terrorism and missiles (UNSC 1737 and UNSC 1929) which are effectively stopping financial institutions to do business with Iran – if Tehran wanted to lift all sanctions, not only the nuclear ones, why did it repeatedly block any efforts by the US to tie the JCPoA to issues of terrorism, missiles and human rights?
  • Ban of US brands from Iran: It’s strange that Tehran is upset that the US is “warning” foreign investors to not invest in Iran while Tehran actually banned over 200 American brands from Iran and continues to forbid negotiating or dealing with the US – if Tehran doesn’t want to do business with the US, why should the US help Iran to do business with other countries?
  • Missile tests in violation of the JCPoA: It’s strange that Tehran is maintaining that it’s the US which isn’t fulfilling the JCPoA while it defiantly carries out missile tests aimed at intimidating Israel by writing “Israel must be wiped out” on the missiles despite the fact that the JCPoA distinctly called on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology” – if Tehran really wanted the US to uphold its part of the deal, why is it continuously baiting the world with these missile tests?
  • De-dollarizing trade: It’s strange that Tehran is so upset with global banks who are shying away from Iran due to non-nuclear-related sanctions while it is striving to de-dollarize deals with Russia and China to trade in Euros and in even in Rials and Roubles – if Tehran isn’t interested in trading in dollars then why should the US help it do so?

It’s as if Tehran is trying to rewrite the JCPoA in order to eat its cake and leave it whole. It’s now up to the US to decide whether to stand its ground or to cave in once more to Tehran’s demands.

 

Iran’s post-JCPoA provocations

both waysThe JCPoA was signed in order to resolve outstanding violations of IAEA rules and protocols regarding Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions and for all intents and purposes, it has achieved this goal: IAEA reports from Iran show that Tehran is complying with the JCPoA agreement as far as its nuclear program is concerned and the nuclear-related sanctions have been lifted.

But Tehran continues to provoke the US and its allies through its fiery rhetoric and its actions. Have the Iranians forgotten Khamenei’s support for “Death to America” calls or the banning of 227 US products? Have they forgotten how they humiliated the US sailors who crossed into Iranian waters by accident? Have they forgotten that threatening to wipe Israel out is tantamount to threatening the US? Have they forgotten that testing long-range ballistic missiles is a violation of the spirit of the JCPoA (Iran was “called on” and not “forbidden” to carry out missile tests)? Have they forgotten that Khamenei continues to promote a “resistance economy” based on local entities and limited imports?

No, Tehran hasn’t forgotten any of these provocations but it did forget something more crucial: Signing the JCPoA succeeded in getting Washington and Tehran to talk after over 30 years, in lifting nuclear-related sanctions and in opening Iran to the world once again (over 400 trade delegations landed in Tehran in less than one year) but it didn’t succeed in changing the regime’s animosity towards the “Satan” US nor did it lift all of the remaining non-nuclear sanctions.

 

The other dangers of doing business in Iran

So now Tehran is calling on the US to lift other sanctions and to allow it to trade in dollars and the White House is seriously contemplating doing exactly that although such a move transgresses the boundaries of the JCPoA. Meanwhile, although the big banks are content to stay out of Iran, smaller banks from the EU, Russia and Asia are willing to step in.

But let’s be honest: foreign investors don’t only need financial services in order to invest in Iran, they need stability and although Iran’s economy has huge potential, it is far from stable. Here are a eight reasons why Iran remains an unstable market in which to invest at the moment:

  1. The regional conflicts involving Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
  2. The domineering role of the IRGC in Iran’s economy, effectively partnering up with all foreign investors.
  3. The rampant corruption and bureaucracy in Iran.
  4. The arrests in Iran of journalists, artists, activists, sectarian and religious minorities, moderates, returning dissidents and Western businessmen.
  5. The banning of brands from Iran and the paranoia of Western/foreign “infiltration.
  6. The preferential treatment given to non-Western countries such as Russia.
  7. The threat of snap-back sanctions.
  8. (New) The growing clash between Khamenei (the regime) and Rouhani (the people).

Remember, a foreign investor may shy away from doing business with Iran for only one of these reasons, not for a few or all of them. Were Iran a stable economy, foreign investors would be only too glad to do business with Iran even if it were to be conducted through non-global banks in currencies other than the US dollar.

 

The CATCH 22 options in Washington and in Tehran

clash economyWashington is at a cross-roads now: It could hold its ground and force Tehran to comply fully with the JCPoA and other sanctions but in the process, it is likely to seriously hurt Rouhani’s chances of bringing about change to Iran because Rouhani’s popularity is based largely on his promises for a better economy. On the other hand, if Washington caves in and lifts non-nuclear sanctions in order to save Rouhani, it will come under serious fire for giving away too much and receiving nothing in return.

Tehran is also at a crossroads: It could tone down its anti-US rhetoric, opt for an open-engagement economy with the West and desist from testing long-range ballistic missiles and, by doing so, enjoy a huge boom in its economy but by doing so, it will lose its revolution ideals and the power held by the regime – this option is tantamount to a counter-revolution designed to topple the regime. On the other hand, it could stand its ground, opt for a resistance economy and continue its anti-US/Israel stance and return to its pre-JCPoA status of a pariah not to be dealt with by the West.

There might be other options out there but as it is, it seems that both Washington and Tehran are stuck in a mutual CATCH 22 situation in which winning isn’t possible.

Tehran Tried To Have It Both Ways

both ways

Lifting sanctions

During negotiations leading up to the JCPoA, Tehran resisted the US’s efforts to include issues such as terrorism, missiles and human rights to the nuclear issue. The Americans thought that they could use the JCPoA as a bargaining chip to get some more concessions out of Tehran concerning these other issues but were unsuccessful at achieving this goal. The JCPoA was subsequently signed and nuclear-related sanctions were lifted once the JCPoA was implemented and everyone made a big deal about how the Iranians had craftily forced the US into a corner in order to sign the deal.

As the sanctions were lifted, the euphoria in Iran was buoyed by the stream of foreign trade delegations (over 400 in less than three years) and the prospects of cashing in on the deal. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei quickly banned over 400 US brands from Iran and made a point of banning any form of negotiations with the US and justifying the calls of “Death to America” and it looked as if Tehran had won the upper hand.

Unfortunately, the US’s continuing sanctions on missiles, terrorism and human rights in Iran has caused most big international banks to wait wearily on the sidelines of Iran’s economy and without the banks, the lifting of the sanctions seems impotent. Khamenei is now thoroughly frustrated claiming that “we haven’t seen anything tangible from these delegations visiting Iran…we are expecting to see some real improvements. Promises on paper have no value” and is now openly criticizing President Hassan Rouhani for “magnifying the disadvantages and losses caused by sanctions“.

 

Caught in a trap

Khamenei is now pushing for a “Resistance Economy” which will not be dependent on foreign investments and foreign trade and Rouhani is now up against the wall. If the remaining sanctions aren’t lifted soon, the whole promise of the JCPoA will dwindle down to the money freed from the lifted nuclear-related sanctions.

But in the meantime, Tehran continues to carry out more missile tests which are answered with more missile-related sanctions, continues to openly support terrorist organizations thereby receiving more terrorism-related sanctions and is in complete denial over the problems of human rights in Iran. The US, which seemed to have given away the whole store to the Iranians is virtually holding the only key to the locked door and Tehran will have to decide within the very near future whether it is willing to renegotiate some kind of deal which would free up any banking restrictions.

What makes matters worse is the fact that it has become nearly impossible to manage closed economy which is open as well in a world where all economies are globally interconnected.

That may be why Khamenei is looking towards Asia for international trade as he clearly stated thatIran’s “definite policy is based on cooperation with Asian countries“.

 

A dead end

disagreement-1
Of course, it may be in the US’s long-term interests to free up the banking systems in order to give Rouhani and his so-called moderate government some economical and political leeway. The problem is that apart from the White House, no one in Washington actually wants to help Iran or Rouhani because they are still upset over. Perhaps the US would be willing to ease up on some sanctions if Iran would ease up on its missile tests and its support of terrorist organizations and would be open for some real changes in human rights but the chances of that happening now are dwindling fast.

In the same manner, Rouhani’s government has repeatedly stated that Iranian emigrants and exiles would be welcomed in Iran in an effort to project a more open and moderate Iran. But in reality, there are too many cases in which Iranian exiles are arrested on visiting their homeland for exactly the reasons why they ran away in the first place. These nigthmarish stories of Westernized Iranians being sent to jail is creating major problems in wooing Iranians living in the West to move to Iran. Instead, they too, like the banks, would rather wait on the sidelines to see how things turn out.

No, this looks like another dead-end which will leave the extremists telling the moderates on both sides “I told you so”.

Tehran’s Actions Contradict Its Words

The ambiguity of the relationship between Tehran and the West continues to create wave after wave of insecurity. For all intents and purposes, the signing of the JCPoA between Iran and the P5+1, was meant to herald a new paradigm which would not only end Tehran’s isolation vis-à-vis the West but actually place Tehran on the same side of its former “enemies”.

The post-JCPoA reality is strikingly different than the positive wording and the smiling handshakes of its co-signers. What followed the inking of the deal is a continuous ping-pong of accusations and counter-accusations from all sides and every step towards the normalization of the relationship between Tehran and the world is followed by a counter-step in the opposite direction.

Tehran has to decide, once and for all, if it wants to be accepted by the world as a country with the potential to become a trusted trading partner and a destination for world tourism and investments, or to continue its efforts to export its revolution and by doing so, continue to meddle in other countries’ affairs. In other words, Tehran has to choose between being a part of the current world order or to continue to strive to create a new world order based on the Islamic Revolution or as Henry Kissinger aptly put it: Iran has to choose “whether it’s a nation or a cause”.

 

Steps and Counter-Steps

Here are a few examples of Tehran’s steps to normalizations followed by counter-steps which increase its isolation:

  • October 7th 2015: Following the signing of the JCPoA, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made a point of congratulating President Hassan Rouhani on a great job of de-isolating Iran but immediately added a ban on any talks or negotiations with “the Great Satan” USA, a major player in the signing of the JCPoA. Why? The fear of infiltration and the dilution of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.
  • October 12th 2015: Following the signing of the JCPoA, Iran test fired long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear war heads destined for Israel which, although not in contradiction with the JCPoA but, was in direct contradiction of UNSC resolution 2231 (2015). Why? The fear of seeming weakened by the JCPoA in the eyes of Iran’s allies and enemies.
  • November 6th 2015: Following the implementation of the JCPoA, Tehran began a massive crackdown against journalist and artists who seemed too liberal or too critical of the regime – within weeks, dozens of journalists and dozens of artists were rounded up and imprisoned on charges which reflect the nature of the arrests: “propaganda against the state”, “insulting the sacred”, “assembly and collusion against national security”. “infiltration”, “spying” etc… Why? The fear of internal criticism and the dilution of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.
  • December 14th 2015: Following the signing of the lifting of sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani officially opened the doors of Iran’s economy to the world but within days, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei made a point of banning over 227 US brands and businesses from Iran. Why? The fear of infiltration and the dilution of the ideals of the Islamic Revolution.
  • January 4th 2016: Following Tehran’s call for Muslim unity to deal effectively with a world dominated by the superpowers and the West, the regional and sectarian conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia based on accusations of meddling and proxy wars threatens to pit Muslims against Muslims in the region and in the world. Why? The fear of weakening the ideal of Exporting the Revolution.
  • March 9th: Following Iran’s elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts in which moderates and reformists gained significant power over the ruling hardline/conservative parties, Tehran once again tested long-range missiles, this time with the words “Israel Must Be Wiped Out” written in Hebrew on the missiles. Why? The fear of losing part of its raison d’etre and its Islamic Revolutionary ideals by not threatening Israel.

 

Believing Words or Actions

Last Thursday, Khamenei shared his dissatisfaction regarding the fact that the 120 plus trade delegations landing in Iran over the past two years have not yielded “anything tangible”. Obviously, these trade delegations are torn between the hopes of striking gold in Iran’s economy and between the fears of a regional conflict or a return of sanctions which could wipe out their investments. He then added something which sounded rather prophetic: “Promises on paper have no value”. And therein lies the problem with Tehran.

Tehran, on paper, has huge potential for strong business and political relationships with countries around the world but Tehran in action continues to support Islamic Extremism at a time when Islamic Extremism is causing Westerners to shudder from fear. Tehran’s willingness to sign the JCPoA and the subsequent inking of numerous MoU’s with tens of countries are in stark contrast with its destabilizing actions in the region and the world.

At the same time, Western states, and specially the US, has to decide whether they want to deal with Iran if it continues its flippy-floppy strategy with the world. The missile tests are just such an example: Iran tested its missiles twice since signing the JCPoA and the US/UNSC did absolutely nothing about it for fear of destroying the achievements of the JCPoA itself. What makes matters worse is that Washington is as wishy-washy as Tehran is flippy-floppy: following the last missile tests, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that he had communicated to Iranian FM Javad Zarif about the US’s “concern” and within hours, Tehran published a claim that no such communication had ever taken place.

Tehran’s involvement in the civil war in Syria is a prime example of the contradictions between its words and its actions: Tehran sometimes says that it has troops in Syria and then denies that it has, that its pulling out its troops and then that it isn’t. Tehran continuously calls loudly on the West to not get involved in the Syrian civil war and then applauds Russia’s efforts on Assad’s side. Tehran maintains that only a political solution can solve Syria’s civil war but then manages its own troops as well as Hezbollah’s. It’s confusing and that’s how Tehran likes it.

The key learning from all of this is simple: As long as Tehran talks of peace but walks towards war, there can never be a normalization of relations between Tehran and the West and Rouhani has to choose whether he plans to build a better future for Iranians by maintaining its Islamic Revolutionary past or by joining the global community and distancing itself from revolutionary notions such as Exporting the Revolution.

Amnesty on Iran’s Flawed Judicial Processes

Last week, Amnesty issued a report which blasted Iran’s legal structures. The 87 page report can be summarized in one word, “INADEQUATE”, but anyone interested in Iran’s human rights should read the whole report to get an idea of just how inadequate Iran’s legal system really is.

The bottom line is that although the constitution in Iran clearly states that all Iranians are equal under the law and that they all have the right to a fair trial, the reality is that the judicial system Iran is filled with by laws which effectively cancel these constitutional rights and that Iranians who are suspected of crimes which are anti-Islamic or anti-regime are legally deprived of their constitutional rights.

Following are the summaries of the basic flaws ingrained within the judicial system as outlined in the report:

  • Legally Undefendable Crimes: One of the biggest problems within Iran’s judicial system is the ability to define crimes that, although purposefully vague, are the basis to extinguish the rights of the accused. Crimes defined as “insulting Islamic sanctities”, “insulting the Prophet of Islam”, “enmity against God”, “corruption on earth”, “apostasy”, national security” and “spreading propaganda against the system” are definite “go to jail” crimes that are punishable by death and that “legally” allow the system to deprive the defendants of their constitutional rights. These “crimes” are slapped on to anyone who criticizes Islam or the regime, including journalists, artists, bloggers, lawyers, activists, religious minority leaders, politicians etc…Once such a crime has been defined, the chances of acquittal dropt to a near zero percent.
  • Legalized Illegal Arrests: Although the constitution and criminal codes of law offer many rights to people who are arrested, in reality, these rights can easily be circumvented. Suspects don’t have the right to an explanation of their arrest or of their rights. They don’t enjoy the right to be brought before a judge but can file a complaint to the investigator and they can be held in jail before trial for up to two years. They can be denied of their rights to access a lawyer indefinitely and can be forced to choose a lawyer from a restricted list supplied by the investigator. Furthermore, lawyers are forbidden to “intervene in court until “the end of the investigations” and can be forbidden to speak during interrogations of the suspect. Detentions prior to formal charges can be extended legally up to one month but the detention can be extended by a judge without further explanation. Meetings with lawyers can also be monitored and the defendant has little room to demand for more time to present an adequate defense. And if you happen to be a foreign national, the rights to communicate with representatives of your government are non-existent.
  • Limited Ability to Fight Back: The law in Iran allows for defendants to file suits demanding reparations only in regards to the conviction itself. This means that defendants can’t sue for the treatment they received during their arrest, detention or incarceration, however horrible it may have been. To make things worse, the law precludes the option for reparation in cases where defendants refused to provide evidence to prove their innocence or if they were arrested for another legal reason or if they “facilitated the conditions of their own arrest” for illegitimate reasons. These broad definitions in fact minimize the chance of defendants who were wrongly accused, wrongly arrested, wrongly imprisoned and, of course, wrongly mistreated to ever obtain financial or other forms of compensation.
  • Torture is not a Crime: Although various forms of torture such as flogging, amputation, blinding, gouging eyes etc…are legal forms of punishment, torturing a suspect or a prisoner is not a crime. Detainees of “special crimes” often undergo torture, ill-treatment, humiliation and degradation before and after their trials and have no legal way to prosecute their torturers. Torture is actually legalized by the constitution “for the purpose of extracting confession or acquiring information” which has led to the use of torture to elicit forced and public confessions. Sexual harassment of the defendants by state officials also falls in legal grey areas: If a defendant was raped by a state official while under detention or incarceration, he or she may file a lawsuit as in any other case of rape but cases of “minor” sexual harassment such as forced nakedness, kissing, groping etc…have no chance of being brought to trial.
  • Partial Impartiality Under the Law: The constitution itself allows the courts to be partial to selected groups of people: women are legally discriminated in courts (their rights are legally half of their male counterparts) as are non-Muslims. But the partiality of the court begins with the judges themselves: women and minorities cannot become judges and judges can be dismissed based on anti-Islamic or anti-regime behavior. Once the trial is underway, it can be arbitrarily held behind closed doors and confessions, forced or real, hold more weight than evidence which is obtained legally or illegally. Even appeals are treated with partiality since the decision of the higher court may be reversed by the original court which issued the conviction. Furthermore, a defendant doesn’t have the rights de facto to be present during his/her own trial.
  • Sex is Punishable by Death: While Iranian leaders continue to deny this fact, it is not only illegal to be gay in Iran, it is punishable by death. Strangely enough, in the case of male homosexuals, the law differentiates between active and passive partners when it comes to the punishment: Passive homosexuals are to be punished by death while active homosexuals are punished by flogging unless the intercourse is by force or the active homosexual is no-Muslim. Female homosexuality is punished by flogging but in cases of both men and women, gays who are repeat offenders (convicted 4 times) face the death penalty. Illicit relations between men and women, including “kissing and sleeping under one cover” is punishable by flogging or the death penalty.

The report goes into many details regarding each of the inadequacies but the point becomes clearer with each sentence: the judicial system in Iran is intrinsically flawed and the freedoms outlined in the constitution are repeatedly and easily trampled on through sub laws or laws that allow the investigative and judicial authorities leeway to do so.

What makes this report harder to swallow is that all of these trampled freedoms continue to occur under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, a self-proclaimed and internationally branded “moderate” who promised to increase the freedoms of Iranians. And if you think that after Supreme Leader and hardliner Ali Khamenei passes on things might get better, it might be worthwhile to remember that the leading candidate to replace him is none other than Iran’s judicial chief Sadeq Larijani who also happens to be the brother of Iran’s chief of human rights, Javad Larijani. In other words, change can not be expected to happen in the near future,

 

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Zarif’s Hypocrisy Increases


Iran’s FM Zarif has been known to “stretch the truth” or to “lie” in the past but it sems that lately, this tendency is growing.

Here are two examples of his hypocrisy from one interview that should remind us all that Zarif is a great diplomat but sincerety is not one of his best virtues.

Zarif Hypocrisy on Syria

 “I think another area of possible disagreement is that some of our friends continue to believe that there is a military solution…I think that’s an illusion. Of course there has to be a military element to this, but it has to be a political solution. And then we need to engage in a comprehensive approach to settle the problem of these extremist groups.”

3 Questions for Mr. Zarif:

  • Who are Zarif’s “friends”? Make no mistake, Zarif’s comment was taken as part of his attack on his “friend”, the US. That’s alright because the US and Iran may be friends according to the JCPoA but Tehran and Washington are far from being friends by definition from Zarif’s Supreme Leader, Mr. Ali Khamenei. Moscow, on the other hand, has quickly become Tehran BBFN (Best Friends For Now) and (surprise, surprise), is now the largest military influence in Syria…after Tehran, of course.
  • What is the definition of a “military element”? Tehran has backed Assad militarily from day one through its proxy militia, Hezbollah, and introduced Iranian military corps into Syria since 2012. Tehran’s military support includes delivering military supplies, operating military “advisors” including, Qassem Suleimani himself, the famed Qods chief, deploying untold thousands of IRGC troops and Iranian jets…all this to a tune of approximately $10 billion a year. Since Tehran’s military presence hasn’t stopped the Syrian civil war, it obviously wasn’t the “military solution” but it seems to be quite a big “element” even for Tehran.
  • Who are “these extremist groups”? The row over the list of terrorist groups in Syria is a snapshot of the difficulty in fighting terrorism. Tehran reacted harshly to the notion that Hezbollah and the IRGC would be considered as “terrorists/extremists” but has no problem in naming all of the Syrian rebel groups as “extremists”. It’s worth remembering that Tehran and Moscow are not really in Syria to beat ISIS but to help Assad beat his enemies which include legitimate Syrian rebels who are calling for his downfall and for free elections.

 

Zarif Hypocrisy on America

“Unfortunately, there are mixed signals coming from Washington, mostly negative signals, including the visa waiver program restrictions…Now we await for the decision by the administration on how it wants to bring itself into compliance with its obligations under the JCPOA“.

 

3 Questions for Mr. Zarif:

  • What about “mixed signals” from Tehran? Although Zarif tried to present a pro-Western stance since becoming foreign minister, he has repeatedly stated that relations with the US can never be normalized according to Iran’s Islamic Revolution’s ideals, that the US is the main cause for terrorism and extremism in the Middle East, that the US’s efforts to fight ISIS are merely a “show” and that the US has been deceitful in its accusations against Iran which led to the sanctions. It is noteworthy that Zarif even apologized for shaking Obama’s hand…
  • What about “negative signals” from Khamenei? Khamenei is not only Iran’s Supreme Leader but, following the signing of the JCPoA, he took over the implementation of the JCPoA and the foreign relations file from Rouhani. Unless Zarif is living on another planet, he is sure to know that Khamenei’s signals to Washington are all “negative” – he prohibited any further negotiations with the US, banned 225 American goods from the Iranian economy and repeatedly justified his paranoid fears of “US Infiltration” and the calls of “Death to America” and “Great Satan”.
  • What about Tehran’s “compliance and obligations under the JCPoA”? Whether Zarif wants to admit it or not, Iran’s missile tests are in direct contradiction to UN resolutions that preclude the JCPoA and are therefore an act of non-compliance. Furthermore, although the IAEA probe into Tehran’s past PMD of its nuclear program was buried in order to allow for the implementation of the JCPoA to , the report states that Tehran did not supply all of the required information requested.

IAEA PMD Report Swept Under JCPoA Rug

The latest IAEA report on the Possible Military Dimension (PMD) in Tehran’s nuclear program is conclusive on three critical points:

  • Tehran is guilty of past PMD development: The report shows unequivocally that Tehran did try to develop nuclear weapons between the years 2003 and 2009.
  • Tehran consistently lied about PMD’s in the past: The report is a direct attack on all of the denials by Iranian leaders and the credibility of Khamenei’s much touted and suspicious “nuclear fatwa”.
  • Tehran is still evading issues on its past PMD: The report outlines that many questions remain unanswered by Tehran regarding key issues regarding militarizing its nuclear program.

And yet, this report is to be swept under the rug in a united effort by the UN, the US and Tehran in order to justify and to implement the JCPoA – it will be conveniently buried and will only resurface as an inconvenient reminder if or when Tehran does finally build a nuclear bomb.

 

IAEA PMD Report: Tehran Lied

There are many inconclusive parts to the IAEA report: There is much evidence that is lacking and some evidence could actually point to a non-PMD possibility. And yet, the IAEA makes it clear that Tehran, at least in the past, did try to develop nuclear weapons and that, therefore, Tehran has consistently lied in regards to PMD of its nuclear program:

  • Testing detonators: 79. “The Agency assesses that explosive bridgewire (EBW) detonators developed by Iran have characteristics relevant to a nuclear explosive device“.
  • Hydrodynamic tests in Parchin: 80. “The information available to the Agency…does not support Iran’s statements on the purpose of the building. The Agency assesses that the extensive activities undertaken by Iran since February 2012 at the particular location of interest to the Agency seriously undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification“.
  • Computer modeling of Explosions: “…The Agency assesses that Iran conducted computer modelling of a nuclear explosive device prior to 2004 and between 2005 and 2009“.
  • Missile delivery systems: 82. “The Agency has verified the existence in Iran of two of the workshops referred to in the alleged studies documentation on the integration into a missile delivery vehicle, but has not received any other information on this area since the 2011 Annex“.
  • Arming tests: 83. “The Agency has not received information additional to that contained in the alleged studies documentation on conducting a test or on fuzing, arming and firing systems since the 2011 Annex“.
  • Pre-2003 program: 84. “The Agency assesses that, before the end of 2003, an organizational structure was in place in Iran suitable for the coordination of a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device“.

The Iranians will be quick to point out that there is no “smoking gun”, only “possible” and “probable” facts which could be construed as evidence and yet one conclusion cannot be escaped: all the Iranian leaders who continuously denied any PMD in Tehran’s nuclear program probably lied (it is impossible to prove whether they knew all the facts or not) and Khamenei definitely lied when he issued his “nuclear fatwa” (it is impossible to believe that he did not know about these experiments).

 

So Tehran Lied and Cheated…Now What?

head_in_the_sand_maskThe report makes it clear that Tehran has cheated and lied in the past but just as in a case of a cheating spouse, this doesn’t necessarily have to lead to a “divorce”. Some might say that people can’t change and as such, Tehran should never be trusted in the future. Others will point out that the fact that a spouse cheated in the past is secondary to the ability of the couple to live a long and prosperous life together. And still others will rightfully point out that the comparison of Tehran’s PMD’s to a cheating spouse breaks down the minute someone new comes into power. Who’s right? Only time can tell.

Khamenei was caught lying and will probably never change his ways but Khamenei is an old man and will soon pass on his Supreme Leadership to someone else who may not harbor aspirations to militarize Tehran’s nuclear program.

Is Tehran to be trusted under the JCPoA? The definite answer is “NO”: The P5+1 should do all it can to not take Tehran at is word and to demand all the necessary information and access required to make sure that Tehran doesn’t build a nuclear bomb.

Will the JCPoA ensure that Tehran won’t build a nuclear bomb? The definite answer is, once again, “NO”: According to all the IAEA reports, including the last, Tehran is still not providing all the information and the accesses necessary to rule out any possible PMD and it is hard to believe that it will do so in the future.

 

The IAEA Report is Dead, Long Live the JCPoA

The overall consensus among the UN, Washington and Tehran is to put Tehran’s shadowy lies in the past and to focus on a brighter future by implementing the JCPoA, the fruit of thousands of hours of negotiations.

This is definitely understandable in regards to Tehran’s wish to look forward since it has the most to gain from the lifting of sanctions. Rehashing accusations of its past is not productive to leading Iran out of its isolation.

Burying the doubts of past PMD infringements by Iran is also understandable among the many countries who want to exploit Iran’s untapped markets and its military-political power post-JCPoA. There is a lot of untapped power and money in Iran and unless a regional/global war erupts, many people are keeping their eyes locked on future prizes instead of looking back doubtfully to the past.

Even Washington, the biggest loser of the nuclear deal (it not only lost face and power, it will be banned from reaping the potential of the Iranian markets) is focusing to the prospects of a better future. Washington’s stance is best understood through Kerry’s thoughts following the damning IAEA report: “Nobody has had any doubts whatsoever about Iran’s past military endeavors. From the get-go, we have consistently said we know that Iran was pursuing a nuclear project” but what really mattered now was “making certain that none of whatever happened in the past can happen going forward into the future”.

Tehran may huff and puff over the accusations on its nuclear past and critics of the nuclear deal are sure to brandish the IAEA report as proof that the JCPoA is built on shaky ground but the JCPoA is a done deal which none of its creators want to undo. May history prove them right.

 

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What Rouhani Omitted at the UNGA

President Hassan Rouhani’s speech at the UNGA on the 28th of September is another Rouhani classic. Apart from the attack on Saudi Arabia for the deaths of the pilgrims in Mina, he managed to touch on all of his favorite subjects: negotiations, money, terrorism and democracy. It’s worthy to notice that he didn’t mention, even once, the burning issue of the systematic abuses of human rights in Iran.

Reading Rouhani’s speech is somewhat confusing since he sounds as if he isn’t the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a country which continues to support terrorist militias and efforts at subversion and revolution in neighboring countries and whose democracy is flawed by the theocracy of the regime and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Furthermore, it is crucial to remember that any talks of democracy and capitalism are definitely not in tune with Khamenei’s revolutionary ideals.

Here are a few soundbites which demonstrate how easy it is for him to blame others without ever taking responsibility and promising promises which he will never be able to keep. Each soundbite is accompanied by a question/s which Rouhani should be asked and should be forced to answer.

 

Pro-Transparency:

  • Rouhani: “We proved in these negotiations that there is nothing on Iran’s table other than logic, reason and ethics, and where necessary, legitimate and decisive self-defense against any kind of aggression.”
    Question: What interests the world isn’t what was ON the table in Vienna but what was UNDER Iran’s table of Tehran’s nuclear program and its numerous transgressions vis-à-vis IAEA regulations?
  • Rouhani: “Our policy is to continue our peace-seeking efforts in the region based on the same win-win principle, and act in a way that would lead to all in the region and world benefitting from these new conditions.”
    Question: What Iran got out of the deal is understandable but what exactly did the P5+1 gain from this WIN-WIN deal?

 

Anti-Terrorism & Pro-Democracy & Pro-Human Rights & Anti-Subversion:

  • Rouhani: “The gravest and most important threat to the world today is for terrorist organizations to become terrorist states.”
    Question: What about the threat of states, such as Iran, SUPPORTING terrorists such as Hezbollah?
  • Rouhani: “We consider it unfortunate for national uprisings in our region to be deviated by terrorists and for the destiny of nations to be determined by arms and terror rather than ballot boxes.”
    Question: If ballots are so important to you, why did Tehran not force Assad to an OPEN ELECTION before sending troops, Hezbollah militia and weapons to Syria?
  • Rouhani: “As we aided the establishment of democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are prepared to help bring about democracy in Syria and also Yemen. We support the consolidation of power through the vote of people rather than with arms. We defend the rule of the majority that respects the rights of minorities. ”
    Question: Why did Tehran SUPPLY both Syria and Yemen with weapons and fighters instead of convincing leaders to hold elections? How can Tehran become such a champion of DEMOCRACY when it is ruled by a non-elected theocracy? Since when does Tehran respects the rights of MINORITIES (women, Christians, Baha’is, Sunnis)? When you say “HELP”, are you not aware that to some, this is a means of MEDDLING/SUBVERSION? 

 

Anti-Terrorism:

  • Rouhani: “Iraq, Syria and Yemen are all examples of crises being stoked through terror, extremism, violence, bloodshed, invasion and the indifference of the international community.”
    Question: Isn’t it a “strange” COINCIDENCE that Tehran’s political, economical and military influence is evident in all of these countries? What is Tehran’s RESPONSIBILITY for the horrors in these three countries?
  • Rouhani: “They are similar examples displaying cases of displacement, homelessness and fleeing from the horrors of war and bombardment. Their problems have persisted because the international community has failed them and because of incorrect actions of newcomers to the region and naive trans-regional actors.”
    Question: Are they not, first and foremost, victims of countries like Syria and Iran who believe that open criticism against the regime is not LEGITIMATE? Are they not also victims of a war that has been PROLONGED by the aid of Iran? What is Tehran’s RESPONSIBILITY for the miseries of Syrians and Yemenites?
  • Rouhani: “We must not forget that the roots of today’s wars, destruction and terror, can be found in the occupation, invasion and military intervention of yesterday. If we did not have the US military invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US’s unwarranted support for the inhumane actions of the Zionist regime against the oppressed nation of Palestine, today the terrorists would not have an excuse for the justification of their crimes. ”
    Question: Is Palestine the real raison d’aitre of the ISIS savages? Don’t these wars have anything to do with the anger of SUNNI Arabs being ruled by SHIITE-like Alawites in Syria and pro-SHIITES in Iraq? What is Tehran’s RESPONSIBILITY in regards to promoting SHIISM in the region while creating and supporting TERRORISM directly or indirectly?

 

Pro-Capitalism:

  • Rouhani: “Iran, with all of its economic and cultural potential, is well positioned to become a hub for export-oriented investment.”
    Question: Are you sure that Khamenei would want Iran to become a strategic “hub” of business for the region with all of his worries about FOREIGN INFLUENCE of capitalism on the ideals of the Islamic Revolution?

 

Rouhani is an impressive politician who knows how to say the right things at the right time. He has masterfully rebranded Iran as a pro-capitalism, pro-transparency, anti-terror, pro-democracy and pro-human rights state when it is quite obvious that this brand is far removed from the realities of Tehran. His hope that by repeating these mantras again and again, the world would believe him. The world hopes that the Iranians and regime leaders will believe him as well and that the regime in Tehran will change its horrid ways and abandon its revolutionary ideal.

 

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