Signing of Nuclear Deal and Lifting of Sanctions Will Not Change Iran’s Behaviour

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The following are the words of the US Deputy National Security advisor Ben Rhodes – “Iran has not altered its posture on the global stage despite, over a year and a half ago, choosing to alter the nature of its controversial nuclear program … Iran has not ceased its support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or its threats toward Israel. Iran has continued to test ballistic missiles. From Iraq to Yemen, Iran has continued to engage in destabilizing support for proxy organizations.”

This assertion by a senior White House official confirms what we already know about Iran’s links to Al-Qaeda and ISIS. In March the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, revealed that a New York District Court ordered Iran to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to families of people killed in attacks. The lawsuit detailed 274 instances of Iran’s alleged role in terror-funding and cooperation with organizations such as al-Qaeda.

According to the newspaper, “allegations were built on information collected by military men who conducted interrogations with US detainees on Iranian affiliation with al-Qaeda.”

Iran-ISIS Collusion

Iran is the strongest and closest ally of Syria’s President. By extension and association Iran and Assad are colluding with ISIS. It has continued its military and financial support to terrorist groups like Hezbollah and also to the Houthis in Yemen.

Iran has violated U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Iranian missile launches. It conducted a naval missile test in deliberate and dangerous proximity to a U.S. fleet aircraft carrier in the Gulf. It hijacked a U.S. military ship and videotaped the humiliation of its crew. The destabilizing activities can be expected to increase with the lifting of sanctions.

Iran's Behaviour - A picture released by the official website of Iran's supreme leader shows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (C) meeting with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) in Tehran on October 2, 2010 during Assad's visit to Iran. AFP PHOTO/HO/KHAMENEI.IR
A picture released by the official website of Iran’s supreme leader shows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (L) and his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (C) meeting with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (R) in Tehran on October 2, 2010 during Assad’s visit to Iran. AFP PHOTO/HO/KHAMENEI.IR== RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE ==

Human Rights Policies

Iran has not moderated its human rights policies. It executed 966 people in 2015, over a 100 were juveniles. Amnesty International’s report on Iran for 2015/2016 details many of the various human rights abuses the country continues to engage in, despite the renewed relationships it has made with the world.

Amnesty’s report says “They blocked Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites, jammed foreign satellite television stations, arrested and imprisoned journalists and suppressed peaceful protests.”

Sentences for those found breaking Iran’s strict penal code include a range of public punishments including flogging, gouging of eyes and amputations.

Since the signing of the deal, Iran has appeared to be more aggressive and less willing to compromise.

Iranian Opposition Viewpoint

US-based Iranian Opposition figures said recently to the press that they believe nothing has changed; “Iran is continuing its expansionist policies, growing its military and perfecting its ballistic-missile capabilities – whether anyone in the West likes it or not, or whether its actions are in contravention of the nuclear deal or not.”

Ironically, last July whilst the nuclear talks were taking place, and only days before the signing of the nuclear agreement, tens of thousands of protesters in Tehran and cities across Iran were chanting “Death to America” in the Islamic Republic’s annual Quds (Jerusalem) Day of Demonstration. Participants in the demonstrations included President Hasan Rouhani.

Pro-Tehran lobbyists and advisors in Washington told President Obama that this sort of stuff is for local consumption.

Obama Dances With Wolves

obama dancing with rouhani.
Obama dancing with Rouhani.

Obama’s weakness was starkly reflected in his refusal to take a tough stance against the Assad regime which is Iran’s ally and client. According to Washington sources Obama was afraid any action against the Syrian regime would alienate Iran and derail the nuclear talks.

In a widely read opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal in May 2016, the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba expressed his country’s regret that nearly 12 months after the conclusion of the nuclear framework agreement, Iran not changed its behaviour.

Supporters of the nuclear agreement and the Tehran-funded media and journalists in USA and elsewhere were busy telling us that Iran will change its behaviour. They naively thought the deal will transform Iran into a tolerant liberal state. They argued that Iran’s appalling human rights record will improve. Events on the grounds have shown otherwise.

Astonishingly, according to a CNN report 29th June Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday deemed Iran’s presence in Iraq to be “helpful” to American attempts to beat back the threat of ISIS, given their common enemy.

What Is Kerry Smoking?

The measured praise for a country with which the U.S. has a fraught relationship came at the Aspen Ideas Festival, where the secretary of state was asked to assess whether Iran was “more helpful or more harmful” there.

“Look, we have challenges with Iran as everybody knows and we are working on those challenges,” Kerry said. “But I can tell you that Iran in Iraq has been in certain ways helpful, and they clearly are focused on ISIL-Daesh, and so we have a common interest, actually.”

Does Kerry really know what he is talking about? Isn’t he aware of Iran’s appalling human rights record? Isn’t he aware of Iran’s violations of UN Security Council Resolutions? Isn’t he aware that Iran and its client in Damascus President Assad are the biggest sponsors of terrorism?

Iran’s Behaviour

Potkin Azarmehr who left Iran for the UK after the “Cultural Revolution” and a specialist on Iran told me a few days ago:

“Ever since I remember, successive US administrations, including George W Bush have been trying to change the behaviour of the Iranian regime, the fact is however, the Iranian regime has changed the behaviour of the governments in the West.”

Nehad Ismail is a writer and broadcaster, who writes about issues related to the Middle East from his home in London.