West Already Courting Iran’s ‘Moderate’ Khomeinist

hassan_rouhani“Let us not delude ourselves. The international community must not become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet in response to Hassan Rouhani’s clear-cut victory in Iran’s presidential elections.

Netanyahu’s fears are, unfortunately, well founded. There is nothing the West loves more than another round of appeasement and deluding itself that the wolf has magically turned into a sheep.

Rouhani, on Monday, already spoke what appeared to be conciliatory words. He promised “greater transparency” in Iran’s nuclear program that would “make clear for the whole world that the steps of the Islamic Republic of Iran are completely within international frameworks.” He said Iran would engage in “constructive interaction with the world through moderation.”

The Wall Street Journal had already reported that “the Obama administration and its European allies” were “surprised and encouraged” by Rouhani’s win and “intend to aggressively push to resume negotiations with Tehran on its nuclear program by August to test his new government’s positions….”

These eager plans come just as Israeli intelligence minister Yuval Steinitz has been warning that Iran is now “very close” to the nuclear finish line and that its nuclear industry is already “many times larger than that of either North Korea or Pakistan.”

But should Rouhani be given a chance? Is it just possible that, as the Wall Street Journal report describes Washington and Brussels as hoping, his “unexpected victory could pressure [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei into softening his position on the nuclear issue or scaling back Tehran’s broader rift with the West”?

Not according to more sober, knowledgeable voices.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal’s Sohrab Ahmari gave some important background on Rouhani that has been missing from Western media’s laudatory accounts of his “moderation.”

Ahmari notes that Rouhani “spent Iran’s revolutionary days as a close companion of the Ayatollah Khomeini.” Later, as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Council, Rouhani led an effort to—as he himself put it—“crush mercilessly and monumentally” the 1999 student uprising.

Ahmari quotes a victim of that crackdown who recalls how, after Rouhani’s statement, security forces “poured into the dorm rooms and murdered students right in front of our eyes.”

During this year’s election campaign Rouhani also boasted of how, as Iran’s nuclear negotiator from 2003 to 2005, his wily approach achieved great gains for Iran’s nuclear program (for details see this account by an Israeli expert). And Rouhani gave his view of the Syrian crisis just last January, saying: “Syria has constantly been on the front line of fighting Zionism and this resistance must not be weakened.”

Indeed, Dr. Soli Shahvar, head of the Ezri Center for Iran and Gulf Studies at Haifa University, told The Tower that in his view Khamenei’s regime actually wanted Rouhani to win. Shahvar’s analysis is worth quoting at length:

If [the regime] had wanted one of the conservatives to win, they would have gotten four of the five conservatives to drop out of the race, paving the way for [eventual runner-up, Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Bagher] Ghalibaf to win. But they didn’t do that. Moreover, it was the regime that approved the candidacy of Rouhani alongside only seven others. This is striking evidence that Khamenei wanted Rouhani to win, both internally and externally.

…Victory for a candidate who is perceived as more moderate yet still has the confidence of Khamenei, serves the regime in the best way. Externally, Iran today is in a very difficult situation with regard to sanctions and its international standing. A conservative president would only have increased Tehran’s isolation in the world. A victory for someone from the “moderate stream,” however, will immediately bring certain countries in the international community to call for “giving a chance to dialogue with the Iranian moderates.” They will ask for more time in order to encourage this stream, and it will take pressure off the regime. And so we see that in the non-disqualification of Rouhani and especially in the non-dropping-out of four of the five conservative candidates there is more than just an indication that this is the result the regime desired.

Or as a former head of the Mossad station in Tehran and prime ministerial adviser put it more pithily: “We will miss the Ahmadinejad era. He spoke like Hitler and the world knew him.”

Israel’s leaders will, of course, try very hard to clarify Tehran’s game of deception to top Western officials. Their work will be cut out for them.

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  • Chez

    Besides, the President in Iran is a figure-head. Khatemi was a “reformer” and he accomplished exactly what in his eight years? Bani Sadr was a “moderate” and his presidency was terminated when he was chased out of the country by Khomeini with hardly the blink of an eye by the international community. Why are we giving any relevance at all to this man’s election to a ceremonial post?

  • 1Indioviejo1

    The West and Obama delude themselves because they are invested in the apologia of Islam. When confronted with the facts, they make up their own to suit their purpose. Purpose being a “Laissez Faire” Islam. Soon they will pay heavier for this self delusion.

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic

    While the world deludes itself with the ‘moderation’ of Hassan Rohani…

    MEMRI: Iranian Nuclear Program – from Uranium to Plutonium


    let’s recall Winston Churchill’s words in the House of Commons in 1935 on the “confirmed unteachability of mankind”:

    When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand, we apply the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the Sibylline books. It falls into that long dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.

    What is Bibi reading?


  • Ken Kelso

    In order to run for the Iran Presidency, you have to be approved by Jihadist Ayatollah Khamenei.
    Only Ayatollah Khamenei backed Jihadists are allowed to run for the Iranian Presidency.
    Mir-Hossein Mousavi who really won the Iran elections in 2009 is an Islamist.
    He just wasn’t Islamist enough for Ayatollah Khameneni.
    Remember, Mir-Hossein Mousavi was Prime Minister in the 80s under Ayatollah Khomeini.
    So Ayatollah Khamenei just assumed he would be like Ayatollah Khomeini.
    When Khameneni realized that Mousavi wasn’t Islamist enough for him in the 2009 elections, he took the election from him in 09 and put him under House arrest.
    So anyone who ran in this Iranian election for Presidency is an Ayatollah backed Jihadist.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    A person can’t be a Muslim and be a so-called moderate Muslim at the same time, as that is literally impossible, since that would also make such a person a blasphemous apostate instead and also a candidate for Islamic justice, which is a swift execution according the texts and tenets of Islam.

  • Flowerknife_us

    Pointing out how wrong the Administrations “experts” have been sense they arrived could only reinforce how wrong they will be now.

    Unfortunately the press will blather on with fairy tails..

  • Walter Sieruk

    It would be best not to trust too much the “apparent friendliness’ of Rowhani is not much more then just an act. Also, his claim of wanting to work for reform may be very disingenous.For example Rowhani has taken that stance that he still wants the Islamic regime to go ahead with going nuclear. By this in itself he has exposes that he is of the same fanatical mindset of Ayatollah Khameni and the mullahs who are the real power in the Islamic “Republic ” of Iran. Furthermore the idea of some leaders in some Western countries have of trying to have anykind of worthwhle constructive dialogue with the officals of the above just named clerics is both foolishness and folly. This is because those in power in this regime have their own kind of Islam agenda about going nuclear and will not listen to reason. This is because they in the extremist irrational religious delusion actually believe that they are in the right in trying to obtain W.M. D.. Thus in any so called “negotiations” they will very disingenous and will dissimulate.
    They will speak the truth only when it happens to suit them. The rest of the time they will be lying and saying half truths. To put this in another way, Thomas Jefferson explained just who things really are in reality when he stated “An enemy generally says and believes what he wishes.”

  • http://collegegirlcleaningservice.com/ Michael Montenaro

    The president of Iran is like the Queen of England; nice title with no real power. Its ridiculous to think this man can bring about any real reform as long as the clerics remain truly in charge.


    Maid Services Orlando

  • glpage

    The primary difference between a conservative and a moderate in Iranian politics is that the conservative says what is on his mind in regards to the West, a moderate says what the idiot Western politicians want to hear, he still hates the West as much as the conservative.

  • tokoloshiman

    One is left in no doubt that the left wing and most of the world are suffering either from a severe form of dementia whereby they are incapable of recognizing the truth or facts as they openly stare them in the face, or that incurable virulent myopia prevents them from seeing through their self imposed denial.

    That leaders of most of the supposedly sane world are heralding the election of iran’s new puppet as a victory for moderation is beyond insanity , beyond the pale of normality and basically the ultimate personification and confirmation that the “head buried in the sand” and hear no evil , see no evil, speak no evil, is the new way forward.

    How far can tact and political correctness( insanity ) go before it it cracks under the strain of absolute incredulity and turns into viable material for one of the most farcical comedies of all time.

    It seems the milquetoast Neville chamberlain types, despite the derision and scorn heaped on them when ludicrous cringeworthy pronouncements were made about “peace in our time” , are today in ascendance and in fact winning the day because the structures of new government and the almost absolute control of the media allows these blunders and miscalculations in the absence of credible Churchill types to bring some reality to the table.

    Truth is undoubtedly stranger than fiction.

  • Drakken

    New boss, same as the old boss but with a smile on his face and a scimitar behind his back.


    -ISRAEL- should use it’s nuclear weapons on every Arab country in the Middle East, problem solved….