The Need For A New Approach On Iran

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani presents to the parliament his budget for 2017-2018, on December 4, 2016, in Tehran. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

As the world recently marked International Human Rights Day, it should be known that the regime in Iran considers its deplorable human rights dossier as its main weakness.

For years the international community has been forced to believe in the existence of “moderates” and “hardliners” in Iran. Those advocating such a point of view have been calling for support of “moderates” to improve the human rights situation in this country.

This accord with Iran was presented as the beginning of a new era which would lead to respect for human rights in Iran and an end to the mullahs’ meddling in the region. That assumption has been at the heart of Western policy vis-à-vis Iran for decades.

However, a very close look is needed at the record of the last three or so years during the tenure of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, dubbed as a “moderate.” More have been executed under his watch than during the entire eight years of firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reign. Rouhani has never expressed any criticism regarding these executions and indeed he defends the death sentence as the rule of God.

Religious and ethnic minorities in Iran are suppressed more than ever before, and Iran has increased its participation in supporting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, especially massacring innocent people of Aleppo and other cities. The world has been watching in horror scenes of women and children victimized to horrendous Iran-backed bombings and shelling.
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However, western policymakers have been completely ignoring these realities. Horrendously, more trade and business deals have been advocated with the Iranian regime. Let us not forget that most of Iran’s economy is run by the Revolutionary Guards, not by ordinary Iranian businessmen.
Therefore, Western policy has actually encouraged the mullahs’ regime to continue their domestic crackdown and carry on atrocious crimes in Syria without any concern of being held accountable.
Just one example is the international community’s complete failure in responding to the mass executions in Iran. In particular, the massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners back in the summer of 1988. Those responsible are still holding key government positions.

The current minister of justice in Rouhani’s cabinet was a member of the infamous “Death Commission” in charge of implementing that dreadful genocide. And he, Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, has actually boasted of being proud of his role in sending thousands of political dissidents to the gallows.

This frankly shames today’s free world in the 21st century. It is totally unacceptable for the West to remain silent and continue business as usual with the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

Iran’s past and present atrocities, inside the country and outside its borders, need to be condemned as crimes against humanity. The West must place firm conditions on future relations with Iran and take serious actions against this regime. One good start was the adoption of the Iran Sanctions Act by the U.S. Congress, sending a strong message to Tehran that the tides are changing.

The West must also demand a stoppage of the execution of minors, justice for women and respect for human rights in general. The people of Iran expect it from the West to stand up for them. U.S. President Barack Obama failed to do so back in 2009 and the Iranian people have paid the price heavily ever since.
The West has unfortunately sided with the brutal dictator in Tehran, and this must come to an end by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian people and not ignoring their suffering.
Iran should not be viewed in a similar perspective as the Soviet Union, as there is no Yeltsin-type dove in Tehran. Unlike the Soviet Union, the regime in Iran has been misrepresenting and taking advantage of a very powerful religion to pursue its devious policies.
An anti-fundamentalist movement believing in a democratic and tolerant version of Islam, delivering a secular perspective of this religion that has been wrongly attributed to various extremist groups, is needed to respond to the current crisis. This will provide free futures for all nations across the Middle East.
The first step in this regard is referring Iran’s human rights violations dossier to the United Nations Security Council for review. This would deliver a blow to Iran the mullahs’ will fail to recover from.
Originally posted in Forbes
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