As we near the presidential elections in Iran, only two months away, a few articles and papers have been released about the true character of Rouhani. Since his election, Rouhani has been upheld to be a moderate and a reformer. Recently, three writers, totally independent of each other, puncture this balloon, bringing down the moderate perception in its entirety. Each one focusing on a different aspect of Rouhani’s lack of moderation.
The wsj sums up “Mr. Rouhani’s rule has not been moderate”, focusing on human rights issues. Mentioning for instance the sentencing to death of a couple for founding a cult, the detaining of the reporter Mazandarani, the arrest of dissident reporter Shahidi (advisor to Karroubi still held under house arrest since 2011), the crackdowns on Christians and the “hostagizing” of a half a dozen dual citizens (like the Namazi family and Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe). The WSJ concludes “the Islamic Republic remains an unbending tyranny”, advising the Trump administration not to waste time searching for moderate negotiating partners in Iran, because “if they exist they are under arrest”.
Lawrence Haas in his opinion column in usnews goes even further. Opening with the words “no matter what happens with Iran’s upcoming presidential election, the regime is, and will remain, just as dangerous as it’s ever been”, he focuses on new challenges that Iran poses to the nuclear agreement, and on Iran’s militarism. From its naval activity, through its battle tank Karrar, new Iranian designed weapons, rocket factories, to its internal oppression. He summarizes: “Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei runs the show..and neither Rouhani nor any other president has ever proved to be a true reformer..Iran’s regime remains as stridently anti-American as ever, and we should dispense with our baseless hopes for warmer ties, and plan accordingly”.
The article by John Hannah & Saeed Ghasseminejad, in foreignpolicy, titled “Rouhani, the Deceiver”, goes the extra mile. Describing the manifold concessions submitted to Iran during the Obama administration, under the false misconception of strengthening the so called moderate (in so called opposition to regime hardliners), overlooking the fact that Rouhani himself admitted to deceiving the West time and time again, and missing the fact that Rouhani is “a snake charmer deployed by the supreme leader”. In their article, they focus on everything and anything, from Rouhani’s background to the faults of the nuclear deal, ballistic missile arsenal and execution rates.
There were such articles in the past, like for instance hassan-rouhani, telegraph & euractiv, but they were drowned out by the “echo chamber” and the Obama administration’s dogma. Think tanks, major media outlets and officials flooded the market with the optimistic vision of a new reformed Iran emerging from the nuclear deal. Only with the new Trump administration did that line of thought get challenged, and did it become legitimate to unplug and unveil Rouhani. To think and write otherwise. This should be a lesson to all loyal members of “echo chambers”.