Hassan Rouhani’s Repressive, Hardline Regime Shadows Visit To 73rd Session Of UNGA

Iran’s Aggressive & Threatening Behavior Undermine Rouhani’s So-Called Moderate Reputation

Next week, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will arrive in New York City for the opening of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. Rouhani’s trip comes at a time of controversy and pressure at home, where he has been weakened by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who blames Rouhani and his government for the county’s economic woes. Iran’s parliament, the Majlis, has also sacked several of Rouhani’s ministers. The deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iran has been arrested as part of a corruption probe. And former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on Rouhani to resign his office.

These political realities will likely galvanize Rouhani’s hardline inclinations. His reputation as a “moderate” via Iran’s relations with Western governments has proved unconvincing in the context of arrests of political opponents, human rights abuses, support for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and terror proxies, weapons smuggling, and the use of diplomats to plot bombings against civilians in Europe.

Rouhani has surrounded himself since day one with some of Iran’s most infamous hardliners. For example, Justice Minister Alireza Avaee, according to eyewitness accounts, ordered a massacre of political prisoners in 1988 as did his predecessor, Mostafa Pourmohammadi. Telecommunications Minister Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi played a role in Iran’s controversial surveillance operations and harsh questioning of dissidents. These picks are symbolic of Rouhani’s decades-long regime insider career, holding nearly every top-level position in the Islamic Republic, dedicated to upholding Iran’s theocratic reign of terror.

Moreover, despite Rouhani’s promises that Iran would temper its behavior following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the regime in Tehran has repeatedly demonstrated that this is far from a moderate, stable regime. Western intelligence sources discovered earlier this month that an Iranian civil aviation company has been smuggling weapons into Lebanon to aid, in part, Hezbollah. In recent weeks, Iran was also involved in a missile attack on a Kurdish rebel base in Iraq, calling the attack a “warning to hostile powers.”

Just take a look at what else Rouhani’s regime has been up to:

  • According to the White House, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq had carried out “life-threatening attacks” against the U.S. Consulate in Basra and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Washington has warned Tehran that it would be held responsible if there are future assaults. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/11/18)
  • Iran has completed a facility to build advanced centrifuges and the regime’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying it prepares to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity if the JCPOA collapses. (Reuters, 9/9/18)
  • With four more Iranian human rights defenders arrested in Tehran since August 31, Human Rights Watch says the country’s authorities have “ramped up” their crackdown against activists. (Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, 9/5/18)

Rouhani has never been the moderate that some in the West have hyped him to be. He is now less inclined than ever to live up to false promises of moderation that continue to win him audiences with European leaders and others who would prefer to embrace hollow rhetoric than to face realities on the ground.

To read more about Rouhani’s real record, please see the following UANI resources: “Hassan Rouhani: Ideology and Policies” and “Moderation Mythbuster.”