A State Department spokesman announced Monday that the United States and the European Union will begin offering sanctions relief to Iran because the country “has begun to take concrete and verifiable steps to halt its nuclear program.”
Here’s just three items over the past week that suggest that Iran’s behavior perhaps isn’t quite worthy of State’s praise: First, the regime-controlled Fars News published an article on its website asserting that the U.S. government is run by Nazi space aliens (a “US-Alien-Hitler” troika). I asked Abas Aslani, the general director of the Fars News Agency, on Twitter if Fars believes the content of the article. He declined to answer my queries, though he did follow me on Twitter. In any case, the U.S. reached an interim agreement with a regime that controls a newspaper that believes extraterrestrial anti-Semitic fascists are in charge of the American government. (As for the actual news, media freedom is nonexistent in Iran. In late December, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that, after Turkey, the Islamic Republic has the greatest number of imprisoned journalists.)
Second, Iran’s Western-educated foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif laid a wreath at the grave of mass-murderer Imad Mughniyeh. Mughniyeh, a Lebanese terrorist, was responsible for the 1983 suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans.
There has been a lot intellectual and media chatter about the sophisticated Western posture of Zarif. It’s almost reminiscent of the Cambodian psychopath Pol Pot’s being praised for having won a scholarship to study in France, before murdering millions in the “killing fields” of Cambodia. And of course there’s Iran’s strategic partner, Syrian president Bashar Assad, a Western-educated ophthalmologist who did residency work at the Western Eye Hospital in London: CNN reported on Monday that there is extensive photographic evidence that his regime tortured and killed 11,000 people.
During his January trip to Tehran , the former United Kingdom foreign secretary Jack Straw boasted, “There are more American Ph.D.s in Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet than there are in U.S. president Barack Obama’s cabinet.” Straw is a big fan of Iran’s totalitarian regime, so unsurprisingly, what was conspicuously absent from his euphoric embrace of Rouhani’s cabinet was any mention of the Iranian justice minister, Mullah Mostafa Pour Mohammadi, who massacred thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Straw’s long-term memory also did not register the past work of Rouhani’s new defense minister, Hossein Dehghan, who played a critical role in the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks.
Third, Rouhani tweeted the other day, “Geneva deal means the surrender of big powers before the great nation of Iran” (he eventually deleted the tweet). White House spokesman Jay Carney chalked up Rouhani’s bragging as playing to his “domestic audience, and added,”It does not matter what they say, it matters what they do.”
Putting aside the flaws of the interim nuclear agreement, the mainstreaming of Tehran’s thuggish regime is disturbing. Last week, Andy McCarthy highlighted in this space the hanging spree that’s been unfolding on Rouhani’s watch, without any semblance of due process. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has made no forceful effort to secure the release of three Americans in Iranian captivity. That might be worth addressing before we welcome Iran back to the community of nations.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.