Following the May 19th presidential “election” in Iran and the incumbent Hassan Rouhani reaching a second term, there was an outpouring of Western mainstream media describing him as a moderate again.
Rouhani was the first Iranian regime official in the early days after the mullahs’ hijacking of the 1979 revolution who openly called for public executions.
— Shawn HarrisⓂ️ (@HarrisShawn5) May 23, 2017
During Rouhani’s first tenure (owing it to the ultraconservative Guardian Council, a 12-cleric body appointed directly and indirectly by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, that vets candidates of all elections in Iran), the regime in Iran:
- sent over 3,000 to the gallows and escalated domestic crackdown,
- increased its export of terrorism through Shiite proxies across the Middle East,
- boosted the Levant dictator Bashar Assad in his massacring and displacing millions of innocent Syrians,
- supported the IRGC in test launching a significant number of ballistic missiles in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and harassing US Navy vessels in international waters,
- went as far as increasing Tehran’s support for the Afghan Taliban, according to the The Washington Post,
- and made having dual nationality a threat, as experienced by too many hostages.
And Rouhani has actually become very useful for the ruling hardliners in Iran.
“For hard-liners and their affiliates — including the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Basij, the judiciary and the Intelligence Ministry — Rouhani is more helpful in achieving their major objectives,” as explained Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy and president of the International American Council.
For this regime the selection of Ebrahim Raisi, a conservative cleric renowned for his three decade role in the judiciary and being involved in the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners across Iran, would have raised tensions domestically and with the international community.
Desperate to maintain the nuclear deal intact and to prevent any possible snapback of UN Security Council sanctions, Khamenei and his regime succumbed to blueprint a second term for Rouhani.
In fact, Rouhani allows the entire so-called “hardliners” in this regime, including the IRGC and its extraterritorial Quds Force, to seek their interests, such as expanding their hegemonic reach across the region, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Reports also indicate Iran has unveiled a new underground missile factory, another asset of the IRGC.
The Iranian regime’s lobbies and apologists in the West dubbed Rouhani as a “moderate” while he was busy negotiating to release billions of frozen assets in order to fuel Iran’s military demands and fund its influence also in Bahrain, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere. The unfortunate attacks targeting innocent civilians in Manchester and Coptic Christians in Egypt should make those dubbing Rouhani as a moderate think twice, considering he is the president of a regime described as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Rouhani goes on to depict himself as a “moderate” good cop to seek legitimacy, as the world considers the IRGC as the “hardliner” bad cops. Under whose tenure has the IRGC and Quds Force chief Qassem Suleimani expanded their reach to Syria and Yemen?
On the other side of the spectrum, however, is the fierce criticism raised against the election in its entirety, described by Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, President of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), as a “sham.”
Tehran will most possibly press the gas pedal in its belligerency during Rouhani’s second term, as seen vividly in his latest remarks pledging Iran will continue its Middle East warmongering, adding their boots are on the ground in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and fought against terrorism in the region.
“Iran has and will support these through its diplomats and military advisors,” he said according to an NCRI statement.
Unfortunately, the West’s decades of appeasement, dating back to the years of Chamberlain and Hitler prior to World War II, has led to the word “moderate” to now include even dictators willing to be just a notch more reasonable than a ruthless entity. In this case, leaving the world to choose between a deceptive-smiling Rouhani and the notorious IRGC.
When Westerners think of “moderates” they begin their comparison process against faces in their own countries. Even “conservatives” in many European countries are against a single execution, but this “moderate” Rouhani in Iran is very much for it. In fact, 2 per day is his report card over the past four years. The regime has already executed ten individuals in the first days of Rouhani’s second tenure, reports indicate.
And the Iranian people inside the country have voiced their opinion about Rouhani being a “moderate”. Defying all odds and accepting the risk of arrest and possible execution even, dissident activists took to the streets in unprecedented numbers in the past months and put up large posters, placards and even graffiti to voice their true vote of “regime change” and describing Rouhani not as a moderate, but as a “demagogue” and “king of executions.”
“In this light, portraying him as a moderate figure bears no color. Those who adhere to this notion must be challenged by asking them to make him unveil the true number of victims of the 1988 massacre of political prisoners and details of their cases, respect human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of political parties, and freedom of political prisoners and pull out from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan.”
While the argument is often made of this and that being beyond the powers of Iran’s president, and former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami referred to the president’s role as that of a tea boy, it begs the question then as to how moderation is to take place.