Despite the best efforts of lobbying allies of the Iran regime, including the National Iranian American Council, scrutiny of Iran’s actions and its policies are intensifying with the perception that this latest third round of talks will be the last chance for the Obama administration to close a deal.
With the stakes high, news organizations are finally turning their attention on the regime, and in light of the latest proxy wars started by Iran in Yemen, journalists are taking heed of what those acts may portend for a possible deal.
One such area of increased attention was the collective warning from Sunni Arab leaders to the U.S. that Iran’s role in arming and funding Shiite allies in the Middle East is powering extremist groups like Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
These same Arab leaders are pressing the Obama administration to more aggressively support Saudi Arabia and its allies in pushing back Iranian influence in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere in order to drain support for Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
Journalistic skepticism continued with the apparent contradiction over the issue of the economic sanctions should a nuclear deal be completed. Bloomberg View columnist Josh Rogin detailed speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in which they outlined the administration plan to only lift sanctions after many years of compliance and only through Congressional action.
But “that explanation directly conflicts with what Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told an audience at New York University earlier that day,” Rogin wrote.” Zarif said that UN sanctions would be lifted within days of an agreement being signed and that all sanctions would be permanently lifted, including Congressional sanctions, once Iran met its initial obligations.”
In Commentary Magazine, Jonathan S. Tobin offered similar skepticism over the idea of “snapback sanctions” actually being of any effect. He correctly points out a critical flaw in the deal being contemplated:
“Just as important, the administration is drawing a broad distinction between branches of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the regime’s terror sponsor as well as an economic powerhouse. Lew promised that the U.S. would rightly hold the IRGC’s Quds Force responsible for its terrorist actions and keep sanctions in place on them. But the rest of the IRGC’s vast infrastructure will be exempt from sanctions after the deal is implemented. Such a distinction will enable Tehran to go on funding terrorism through the IRGC’s vast holdings that amount to a third of the Iranian economy. Money, like terrorism is fungible but if you’re determined to turn a blind eye to how the Iranian regime operates, anything is possible.”
But besides focus on the Iran regime’s foreign policy and nuclear talks, journalists are taking a closer look at the human rights abuses that continue to grow in new and alarming ways.
Agence France-Presse ran a story on the regime’s efforts to outlaw certain styles of haircuts for young Iranian men that the mullahs viewed as subversive and oddly “devil worshipping.”
Mostafa Govahi, the head of Iran’s Barbers Union, was quoted in the state-run ISNA news agency that “any shop that cuts hair in the devil worshipping style will be harshly dealt with and their license revoked,’ he said, noting that if a business cut hair in such a style this would ‘violate the Islamic system’s regulations.”
In addition, the mullahs aimed to ban tattoos, tanning beds and the plucking of eyebrows in a departure into the realm of weirdness. We can only assume given the regime’s preference for imprisonment and public hangings, haircutting in Iran might now be considered a dangerous profession.
And in a further embarrassment to those supporting a nuclear deal with Iran, the Observer chronicled the plight of homosexuals in Iran where an estimated 4,000-6,000 gays and lesbians have been executed by the regime since 1979 to today.
At a time when the U.S. is having a national debate over same-sex marriage, there is scant attention being paid to the abuses gays are undergoing in Iran; until now.
All of which points to the growing and well deserved scrutiny the regime is now undergoing. We can only hope the effect of a magnifying glass aimed at the regime’s policies will be similar to putting a bug under the burning glare of the sun.
By Michael Tomlinson