NEW YORK, June 19, 2013 — Leave it to
Contrary to the cautious and not-so-cautious optimism expressed by the White House, the outcome of the June 14 Iranian election, in which Shiite cleric Hasan Rohani emerged victorious, is very bad news.
In the first place, Rohani is no moderate. This is evident in his past history as a loyalist of the Islamic Revolution that ousted the Shah of Iran in favor of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. It is also evident in his many subsequent top-tier positions in Khamenei-led governments. Rohani would not have been approved by Khamenei as a candidate had his credentials or campaign been too liberal.
Secondly, Rohani is no friend of popular protests. In July 1999, during Rohani’s tenure as Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, students at
During the clash, a student was killed. This sparked a week of rioting throughout the country, leaving a number of people dead and hundreds injured. After that, more than 1,000 people were detained by authorities. Dozens of students disappeared. Their whereabouts are unknown to this day. The violent quelling of the demonstrations and harsh detentions were spearheaded by Rohani.
These events occurred seven years after the suicide of Rohani’s eldest son, who left a note in which he attacked his father’s ideology and tactics. “I hate your government, your lies, your corruption, your religion, your double-dealing and your hypocrisy,” he wrote in a letter, excerpts of which were published in the Asharq-al-Awsat newspaper and reported yesterday in Ynet.
“I am ashamed to live in an environment in which I am forced to lie to my friends every day and tell them that my father is not part of all this – to tell them that my father loves the nation and to know that the reality is far from this. I get nauseated when I see you, father, kissing Khamenei’s hand.”
Why, then, is this 64-year old mullah hailed as a beacon of hope?
Where Iranians are concerned, this probably has to do with the fact that Rohani always opposed his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even resigning as
From the point of view of the Obama administration and the other P5+1 countries (
As summits and sanctions were not putting a dent in
Then along came an electoral victory for Rohani, a proven expert at nuclear negotiations: keeping the West at bay while enabling
From Khamenei’s perspective, things are turning out better than anticipated. Though he did not back Rohani for president, the Supreme Leader is suddenly grasping the advantages of having a puppet so palatable to the Iranian people and to the West. His first order of business was to meet with the president-elect and provide him with the “necessary guidelines” to follow. He then let his Revolutionary Guards give Rohani a bear hug of “complete cooperation with the new government in the framework of its responsibilities.”
By the time Rohani held his first press conference on Monday, he was sufficiently briefed on how much leeway he would have in his new role. This did not appear to bother him, however. Rohani’s real aim is not to alter the policies of the regime, but to present them in a better light, so that
“…The first goal is that no new sanctions are imposed,” he said to reporters. “Then, that the (existing) sanctions are reduced. […The
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