Browse many of the headlines in the western media, and you might think Iran’s newly re-elected, President Hassan Rouhani, is downright sensible, a moderate, a progressive reformer. A headline from The Guardian claims: “Iran: Hassan Rouhani wins landslide in huge victory for reformists.” CNN writes, “Hassan Rouhani is Iran’s next president after appealing to tradition, reform.”
The argument goes — as echoed by The Guardian, CNN, and other western media — Rouhani is making strident efforts to “end Iran’s international isolation” and bring “greater freedoms at home.” Rouhani is trying to open Iran to the world.
Don’t be fooled.
Rouhani is, in every way, firmly entrenched in the elite, oppressive, clerically ruled power structures that continue — unabated — in oppressing the people of Iran, meddling in Syria (and beyond), and destabilizing the region. He’s a clever guy — a consummate, savvy politician — who says one thing, while doing just the opposite.
Publicly, he sounds “moderate” — often praised for criticizing some of the hard-liners, while calling for reforms. He’s demonstrated a delicate touch, balancing the various competing powers within Iran. Yet, in Iraq, he’s backed many of the country’s most vile sectarian militias. In Syria, he’s helped prop up Assad, while Assad continues his genocidal campaigns. In Yemen, a country in the midst of civil war en route to widespread famine, Iran funnels money and weapons to the Houthi rebels. To this day, Iran continues to detain dual nationals, including artists and journalists, Americans, and others they deem adversarial to the regime. Human rights violations — executions, imprisoning political dissidents, torture, oppression of free speech, assault on judiciary independence — continue under Rouhani, in many cases intensifying.
And, of course, let’s not forget: Rouhani once served on an extraconstitutional committee that planned and coordinated assassinations of adversaries and exiles abroad. Rouhani admitted to an Iranian newspaper, “[Iran] will not hesitate to destroy the activities of counterrevolutionary groups abroad.” Their targets were not limited to Iranian exiles — Indian-born, Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses, was one such target. How very Putin-like! All of these activities were (and continue to be) coordinated with Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. (Notably, Rouhani served as secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years.)
In a 2001 Time Magazine article — “The Tehran Connection” — Thomas Sanction writes:
According to Western intelligence and Iranian dissident sources, decisions to assassinate opponents at home or abroad are made at the highest level of the Iranian government: the Supreme National Security Council. The top political decision-making body is chaired by Rafsanjani and includes, among others, Fallahian, Velayati and Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as the revolution’s spiritual guide in 1989. The council’s secretary, parliamentary ; vice president Hassan Rouhani, was recently quoted in the Iranian newspaper Ettela’at, vowing that Iran “will not hesitate to destroy the activities of counterrevolutionary groups abroad.”
Hassan Rouhani is a cunning terrorist mastermind. History shows us it would be foolish for the West to regard him as otherwise.
At present, Iranian politics has no moderates — only politicians who take direction (in varying degrees) from their supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.