Friday, January 22, 2016

The nuclear agreement and reform in Iran - Elliot Abrams

by Elliot Abrams

Having more money will embolden Iran's rulers and do ‎nothing for its citizens, who detest the tyranny under which they live.

It was widely assumed that with the end of sanctions, Iran would "join the world" and ‎become a less repressive state. To take just one example, the Iranian philosopher Ramin ‎Jahanbegloo argued in Huffington Post that the nuclear deal created "the opportunity for ‎Iranian civic actors to enable and empower Iran's civil society space" and "help the country ‎to become more open, transparent and susceptible to international pressure on issues like ‎the death penalty and the imprisonment of civic actors in Iran." Last summer, Reuters ‎carried this story: "Iranian pro-democracy activists, lawyers and artists have thrown their ‎weight behind last month's nuclear deal with world powers, hoping it will lead to a promised ‎political opening that President Hassan Rouhani has so far failed to deliver."‎
Oh well. That was the last thing Iran's rulers had in mind, and they have acted quickly this ‎week to crush such reformist efforts. Here's The Wall Street Journal account:‎

"Days after Iran secured relief from economic sanctions under a contentious nuclear deal, ‎the country's powerful hard-liners are moving to sideline more moderate leaders who stand ‎to gain from a historic opening with the West.‎

"Almost two-thirds of the 12,000 candidates who applied to run in next month's ‎parliamentary elections were either disqualified by Iran's Guardian Council or withdrew.‎"

Actually the picture is even worse: 99% of reformist candidates were rejected.‎

So the hopes that the nuclear agreement would lead to reform are vanishing very quickly. ‎As is, and always was, logical: Reform was never the intention of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ‎the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, the Basij thugs, or any of the groups and individuals that hold a ‎monopoly on force and hold real political power in Iran. As we just saw in the seizure of ‎American sailors in the Gulf, having more money will embolden Iran's rulers -- and do ‎nothing for the vast majority of its citizens who detest the tyranny under which they live.‎

That's the real problem with the nuclear deal, and with the whole Obama approach to Iran ‎since he became president. He has always sought an improved relationship with the Iranian ‎regime, not with the Iranian people. When the people rose up in 2009, he was silent in the ‎crucial early days -- because the uprising was inconvenient, threatening to spoil his ‎diplomacy with the ayatollahs.‎

One cannot condemn Iranian reformers for seeing some hope in the nuclear deal. One can ‎only feel sorry that the United States and others in the P5+1 made an arrangement with ‎their oppressors that will likely lengthen the life of this criminal regime.‎

Elliot Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This piece is reprinted from Abrams' blog "Pressure Points."


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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