After 40 years, Iran is no closer to ‘moderation’

After 40 years, Iran is no closer to ‘moderation’

2019/01/25 | 11:20 - Source: Baghdad Post

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)-

Lord Anthony Clarke

In February 1979, the people of Iran threw off the rule of

one dictator, only to watch as religious extremists installed another.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power had far-reaching consequences for the

Iranian people and for much of the world.The 40th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution represents an

important opportunity to examine those consequences and reassess collective

approaches to dealing with the regime and helping its people.In recent years, there has been talk of a trend toward

“moderation” among Iran’s leadership.

But even more recently, the Trump

administration has turned sharply away from the former praise of Rouhani and

his associates.

Last May, the United States withdrew from the Joint

Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency saying Iran

was generally in compliance with its obligations under the deal, President

Trump cited the deal’s failure to accomplish its broader aim of contributing to

peace and stability in the Middle East.The reality of the situation is that while Iran’s nuclear

activities were being held partially in check, its overall behaviors were

emboldened by what the regime’s opponents tend to call “policies of

appeasement.”This language was used, for instance, in a statement issued

by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in the wake of the US State

Department’s announcement that it would be hosting an international conference

in Warsaw to discuss Middle Eastern affairs, particularly the expanding,

destructive influence of Iran.The consequences of this situation are reflected in

virtually every aspect of Iran policy other than the negotiations leading up to

the JCPOA.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, as the final authority on all such

matters, begrudgingly permitted those negotiations while still emphasizing the

status of the United States and Britain as “enemies” of the Islamic Republic.Yet that was enough to put the brakes on international

scrutiny of Tehran’s overall conduct, at least until the Trump administration

took over the White House in 2017.In withdrawing from the JCPOA last May, the US president

highlighted the regime’s ongoing development and testing of ballistic missiles,

in clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231.

He also

pointed to the role that Tehran has played in prolonging and worsening regional

conflicts through support of Hezbollah, the Assad regime in Syria, and the

Houthi rebels in Yemen.In other speeches, Trump has also affirmed that the Iranian

people are the “longest-suffering victims” of the religious dictatorship, and

he has sought to keep attention focused on Iran’s status as the world’s leading

state sponsor of terrorism.The latter goal should be easy in light of the recent

proliferation of Iranian terror threats directed at targets on Western soil.The vast majority of these targets were affiliated with the

NCRI, whose members already comprise the vast majority of persons who have been

murdered by the Iranian regime.

The worst of these killings, including the

massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988, are in the

nation’s past.But this is by no means indicative of a trend toward

moderation.Quite to the contrary, numerous high-ranking Iranian

officials have been explicitly advocating for greater levels of brutality in

their repression of dissent and their enforcement of sharia law.Just days ago, Prosecutor General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri told

Iranian state media that he considered it “unfortunate” the judiciary was not

carrying out more amputations, and he lamented the fact that Tehran is making

any effort whatsoever to avoid international condemnation.Still, those efforts are as superficial as can be, and they

are reminiscent of small concessions offered in nuclear negotiations in order

to secure broad toleration in other areas.The Iranian judiciary continues to defy the international

community over matters like the execution of juvenile offenders, and it

continues to push for death sentences as punishment for those who have

participated in the past year’s nationwide protests, which rejected both the

“moderate” and hardline factions of Iranian politics and advocated instead for

a wholesale change of government.Although the Trump administration has avoided the phrase

regime change, it is sure to use the Warsaw conference to push for policies

that trend in that direction.

The time has come for what the opposition leader


Maryam Rajavi said was “imperative to rectifying” four decades of relative

inaction in the face of ongoing abuses by the Iranian regime.

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