The number of Western citizens being detained and thrown in Iran's political jail, Evin prison, is increasing. Most of those being targeted are from Western countries (Europeans or Americans), who have Iranian ethnicity.
Even the State Department has acknowledged the increasing threat "Iran has continued to harass, arrest, and detain US citizens, in particular dual nationals."
Many believed that Iran would open up politically and socially after rejoining the global financial system and after sanctions were lifted. Rowhani encouraged the Iranian Diaspora to visit Iran without fear.
Iranian authorities use dual citizens as pawns for extracting economic concessions or receiving political and financial gains and can also use them to swap prisoners.
This year, Iran swapped 4 Iranian-Americans for seven Iranian prisoners in the US. In addition, a report revealed that "the Obama administration secretly organized an airlift of $400 million worth of cash to Iran" when four Iranian-Americans were released.
Iran can also use dual citizens to put pressure on Western countries to give Tehran geopolitical or economic points such as ignoring the IRGC's military adventures, turning a blind eye on Iran's breaches of international laws and testing of ballistic missiles, or not imposing penalties on Iran.
The hardliners are also sending a message to the moderates that the nuclear agreement does not mean more political and social liberalization. From a trade perspective, the hardliners want to keep the country closed to competition so that the IRGC and the office of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, maintains monopoly over the wealth and financial system.
The Iranian government is also sending a message to the West and to the Iranian people that the Islamic Republic will not only target and arrest prominent and influential people, but also ordinary citizens such as Mr. Shahini. Iranian authorities are more concerned about Western cultural infiltration among the youth than anything else.
You can read more of the article on Al Arabiya English.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, business advisor, best-selling author, and the president of the International American Council on the Middle East. Harvard-educated, Rafizadeh serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review. An American citizen, he is originally from Iran and Syria, lived most of his life in Iran and Syria till recently. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Arabic and Persian. He also speaks English and Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew.
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