In each prior appearance before the United Nations General Assembly session, the Iranian regime’s Hassan Rouhani has sought to project an image of moderation and openness. His entourage usually consisted of large swarms of advisers, economic aides and other dignitaries.
His schedule usually consisted of media interviews with network anchors and newspapers in which he offered a beguiling smile and chuckle to preserve the image of some kind of avuncular uncle.
But in his fourth and most recent appearance the other day, his schedule was a limited two day layover and consisted of few meetings on the sidelines with only one network interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd. Gone was the large retinue, but wasn’t missing was the same sly effort to try and conceal the truth behind Iran’s moves.
The Wall Street Journal noted the distinct change in this visit by Rouhani.
“Iran’s posture and agenda this year at the U.N. stands in contrast to years past, when the president brought large teams of advisers and ministers and capitalized on the trip by holding meetings with scholars, editors, Iranian-American business moguls and ordinary citizens,” wrote the Journal.
“The Iranian-American business community, which was heavily courted by Mr. Rouhani and his team during previous U.N. summits, kept its distance this year. Iran’s arrests of dual nationals, particularly Iranian-American businessman Saimak Namazi and his father, Baqir Namazi, who was formerly a U.N. official, sent chills through businesses considering investing in Iran,” the Journal added.
The circumstances have changed dramatically for Iran and the rest of the world in just one year with the nuclear agreement reached last year. Wars now rage throughout the region in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen and bloody extremist Islamic attacks of all stripes have peppered the world from Australia to Canada and the U.S. to throughout Europe and Africa.
Also, with the nuclear deal in hand, the mullahs in Tehran have focused their efforts on trying to press for more concessions before the window closes and either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are elected since both have expressed varying degrees of skepticism of the regime and the nuclear deal.
The hotly disputed ransom payment made by the US of $1.7 billion in cash for American hostages earlier this year emboldened the regime and spurred another round of hostage taking of dual national citizens, which Rouhani noted in an interview, Iran does not recognize.
Iran is currently detaining five British dual nationals, a Canadian-Iranian professor and four Iranian-Americans. In the past, Iran has jailed dual nationals as leverage to swap prisoners.
When asked about the case of the British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was sentenced to five years in prison in August, Rouhani simply said Iran doesn’t recognize dual nationals and denied using them as pawns. Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband has said Iran hasn’t revealed specific charges against his wife.
What hasn’t changed is the drivel that spewed out of Rouhani in his speech in which he heaped one absurd notion on top of another, first blaming sectarian violence in the region solely on Saudi Arabia, its chief regional rival, and assuring the world Iran supported inclusive, democratic governments.
It’s an appalling statement to make for Rouhani considering the Iranian regime is the most brutal nation in the Middle East, unless you count ISIS as a separate entity. His statement that Syria’s unrest could only be resolved by rooting out terrorist groups, neglected to mention that Iran’s military support of the brutal Assad regime has not targeted terror groups such as ISIS, but rather Syrian rebel groups opposed to Assad.
“If the Saudi government is serious about its vision for development and regional security, it must cease and desist from divisive policies, spread of hate ideology and trampling upon the rights of neighbors,” Rouhani said.
His blaming of the Saudi’s is beyond incredulous considering Iran’s mullahs run a 24/7 hate mongering propaganda machines through its state-owned media, cyberattacks and lobbying groups all aimed at pushing its own peculiar brand of extremist ideology.
In his speech, Rouhani criticized the United States for its “lack of compliance” with a landmark nuclear deal reached with six major powers and Iran in 2015 aimed at curbing Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions, which is the crux of the issue most concerning Rouhani and his cohorts.
The Iranian economy is stalled and unemployment, wage growth and household incomes have all stayed persistently below the targets Rouhani promised when he gained office. Making matters worse, the perception that Iranians would receive economic benefits from the nuclear deal have failed to materialize making ordinary Iranians restless and angry at their continued plight.
With the financial drains of supporting three proxy wars emptying the regime treasury, the money it has received from unfrozen assets and the hostage payment have principally been used to replenish its depleted military stores.
The irony of Rouhani praising peace while the Revolutionary Guard Corps showed off new long-range ballistic missiles with cluster bomb warheads against the backdrop of mass demonstrations and protests in Iran of people frustrated with deep seated corruption was not lost on most observers.
Nor did the thousands of protesters outside of the UN made up of human rights groups and Iranian dissidents let UN delegations forget that Rouhani should not be getting a free ride and ought to be held accountable for the lies he pedaled at the General Assembly.
As the hashtag said, #No2Rouhani on hundreds of signs, the world should say no more to his deceptions.
By Michael Tomlinson