By: Lord Maginnis, PoliticsHome.com
August 4, 2013 has marked Inauguration Day for Iranian President Hassan Rowhani and some in the western press and indeed some diplomats have clearly billed him as a moderate selection for Iran. Yet, while his election campaign may have suggested domestic and economic betterment for the Iranian people, any call for, once again, extending an olive branch to Tehran is optimistically precipitate.
So what do we know about the real Hassan Rowhani? Bluntly, that the facts are not on the side of proponents of this approach. He has been a high-ranking official of a regime that has suppressed the Iranian people throughout the last three decades, working primarily for the regime’s intelligence, military and national security circles. In these capacities, he has been involved in and has supported the regime’s policies and actions, including murderous suppression of any opposition and the regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
This so-called “moderate” was the national security advisor to the then President when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) blew up Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia and murdered 19 American servicemen in 1996. I followed that investigation; followed it up closely and observed how the leads went all the way to the highest offices in Tehran.
In theocratic Iran, anyone who even wishes to seek the Presidency must first be trusted and vetted by those who really run the country, namely the ruling mullahs and in particular their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There can be no doubt why Hassan Rowhani, vetted and approved by Khamenei’s Guardian Council for the June 14 election was deemed to have fulfilled, both in theory and in practice, the ‘allegiance criterion’ to the absolute rule of the Supreme Leader.
As the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), he was intimately familiar with the secret construction of Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities in Arak, Natanz and Shian Lavizan in Tehran, which remained clandestine until exposed by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in 2002. So how can we forget that this “moderate” was the defender, engineer and supervisor of the Iranian atomic weapons programme. Keeping it “under wraps” and successfully buying time to push it forward has been much of Rowhani’s curriculum vitae.
As Iran’s lead nuclear negotiator in 2003 he subsequently boasted about duping the West while continuing the drive to obtain nuclear weapons as expeditiously as possible.
And as for Rowhani’s outlook on civil liberties, democracy and freedom inside Iran …. let’s remember it was he who pleaded with regime security forces to “mercilessly” crush student demonstrations against the regime in 1999. As a result, according to a Wall Street Journal report, more than a dozen students were killed, 1,000 were arrested, hundreds were tortured and 70 simply disappeared.
On what grounds can we possibly argue that under Rowhani’s leadership, Iran will cease to oppress its own people and export oppression and terrorism throughout the Middle East and the world?
In reality, the West does not have the words to speak to Iran’s new president. He represents a regime which, as long as it remains in power, will never allow his own people the freedom Iranians desire. We, in the West, should not placate a regime that is not genuinely interested in change, let alone in pursuing honest negotiations over its nuclear program.
We must not be tempted to negotiate on Iran’s terms with those whose stated policy has, for decades, sanctioned the murder of Americans. Instead the United States must toughen up on the mullahs; those responsible for all the unanswered crimes against Americans and Iranian people. With its allies, Washington should heed the cries for freedom frrom ordinary Iranians.
In Paris in June past I witnessed that yearning for freedom at the major gathering of 100,000 Iranian expatriates, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is led by a charismatic Mrs Maryam Rajavi. The alternative and near absolute certainty is that Rowhani as president will continue his declared objective to “dupe the West” into believing that the regime is behaving better both inside and outside Iran. Every moment that Rowhani is allowed to “buy time” the mullahs will continue to advance their means of blackmail and murder.
Just remember how many Iranians have been hanged since Election Day! Western governments should avoid harbouring the illusion that a moderate has now been chosen as President of Iran.
This is the right time to be on the right side of history when it comes to Iran. It is in the interest of Iranians and the international community.
Lord Maginnis of Drumglass, a member of the House of Lords and a prominent member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom (BPCIF)