- - Thursday, November 14, 2013

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s claim that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, calling Mr. Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (“Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu: Iran leader Hassan Rouhani is a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing,’” Web, Oct. 31).

Despite a charm offensive at the United Nations during September, Mr. Rouhani’s negotiators failed to achieve his goals in the October and November Geneva talks between Iran and the major powers: unraveling sanctions against Tehran in return for reversible “concessions” on uranium enrichment.

Mr. Rouhani’s 100 days of charm give cover for Tehran to get away with closure of “reformist” newspapers and continued execution of political prisoners. Although he campaigned on a platform of moderation, Iran’s judiciary, admittedly run by different elites than the presidency, shut down more than 120 wayward newspapers for straying from established ideological guidelines. And Amnesty International states that so far in 2013, “the Iranian authorities are believed to have executed a total of at least 508 people.”

The possibility of Iran gaining legitimacy within a new alignment with the West rightly upsets Sunni Arab Gulf State leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who share Israel’s alarm at the outreach toward Shiite Iran in the Geneva talks. In addition to this odd couple of Israel and Saudi Arabia, there is the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which opposes any deal that strengthens Tehran at the expense of regime change by the Iranian people.

Consistent with closure of reformist newspapers and continued executions is Tehran’s collusion westward across the Shatt al Arab River to suppress Iranian dissidents held under prisonlike conditions in Iraq’s Camp Liberty. Mr. Rouhani’s 100 days of charm also allows Iran cover to encourage Iraqi attacks against these NCRI-affiliated pro-democracy reformers, kidnap and hold seven as hostages, as well as ignore calls for their release.

But just as the masked wolf was too clever by half, so the tyrants of Tehran will fall to the will of the people, as do all dictatorships.

RAYMOND TANTER
Washington

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