Like some rodent prey being squeezed by a python, the Iranian regime’s mullahs are finding themselves under pressure from all quarters as they find themselves under scrutiny for human rights violations, its militant actions and the deeply flawed nuclear agreement.
The central and most consistent issue confronting the Iranian regime has been its abysmal human rights record which continually has drawn international condemnation for the oppression of dissidents, abuse of women and children, heinous public execution of prisoners and widespread use of torture on political prisoners.
Groups such as Amnesty International have consistently documented these abuses and tried to draw international attention to the suffering at the hands of the mullahs. In its most recent report, Amnesty International described the widespread of medieval punishments including some of the most barbaric practices.
Iran’s persistent use of cruel and inhuman punishments, including floggings, amputations and forced blinding over the past year, exposes the authorities’ utterly brutal sense of justice, said Amnesty International.
Hundreds are routinely flogged in Iran each year, sometimes in public. In the most recent flogging case recorded by Amnesty International, a journalist was lashed 40 times in Najaf Abad, Esfahan Province, on 5 January after a court found him guilty of inaccurately reporting the number of motorcycles confiscated by police in the city.
“The authorities’ prolific use of corporal punishment, including flogging, amputation and blinding, throughout 2016 highlights the inhumanity of a justice system that legalizes brutality. These cruel and inhuman punishments are a shocking assault on human dignity and violate the absolute international prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment,” said Randa Habib, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“The latest flogging of a journalist raises alarms that the authorities intend to continue the spree of cruel punishments we have witnessed over the past year into 2017.”
According to Amnesty International, under Iranian regime law, more than 100 “offenses” are punishable by flogging. These cover a wide array of acts, ranging from theft, assault, vandalism, defamation and fraud to acts that should not be criminalized at all such as adultery, intimate relationships between unmarried men and women, “breach of public morals” and consensual same-sex sexual relations.
Many of those flogged in Iran are young people under the age of 35 who have been arrested for peaceful activities such as publicly eating during Ramadan, having relationships outside of marriage and attending mixed-gender parties.
The Amnesty International report goes on to document a long list of heinous punishments inflicted by the regime on its own people.
Besides pressure being brought Amnesty International, potential avenues of dialogue may finally be opening between an incoming U.S. administration and Iranian resistance groups that have helped shine a bright light on transgressions by the Iranian regime, not only human rights abuses, but also its then-secret nuclear weapons program.
With the Trump administration taking office, a ripple effect has been moving out affecting the Iranian regime in all sorts of ways, including concern coming from commercial aircraft leasing companies that may be having second thoughts about doing business with the Iranian regime in these uncertain times.
Even though Iran’s flag carrier, Iran Air, last week received the first new jetliner from Airbus, and last year finalized deals to buy 100 planes from the European plane maker and another 80 from Boeing, big aircraft lessors still are reluctant to do business in Iran. “We will remain cautious,” said John Plueger, chief executive of Air Lease Corp.
Trump has voiced skepticism about the Iran accord and “we have to be mindful of that,” Air Lease Corp.’s Plueger said Tuesday at an Airline Economics forum.
U.S. critics of the Iran deal have tried to block financing of the planes. Members of the House of Representatives this week introduced a bill to force the Trump administration’s director of national intelligence to investigate whether planes operated by Iran Air or other carriers are being used to support terrorism.
“We’re asking the intelligence community to provide a full accounting of Iran’s use of commercial airlines to support its global network of terror proxies” including in Syria, Rep. Peter J. Roskam (R-IL) said in a statement Tuesday.
Businesses are worried the U.S. may reimpose sanctions. “There is a substantial snap-back risk,” said Olaf Sachau, chief executive of Intrepid Aviation. Although he sees Iran as an attractive market for plane-leasing companies to do businesses, the U.S. election outcome means tapping the market isn’t on the agenda for now.
These uncertainties have taken the shine off of the anniversary of the nuclear agreement as Hassan Rouhani has tried to celebrate it. Rohani has been saddled by the high expectations he set, as Iran’s economy continues to struggle and the great boost in foreign investment and other benefits he envisioned has so far failed to materialize mostly as a result of the lack of capabilities within the ruling elite and for spending much of the cash in promoting the war in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, etc and on empowering the IRGC at home for domestic repression.
The Iranian currency, the rial, hit a record low against the dollar in recent weeks, prompting fears that efforts to boost the exports of industrial goods will suffer and anticipated foreign goods will be prohibitively costly. The unemployment rate is on the rise, reaching 11.3 percent in 2016 compared to 10.8 in 2015.
In a nutshell, the limited economic progress Rohani’s government has made has yet to trickle down to the average Iranian household in terms of jobs, salaries, and the prices of basic goods. This is something that none other than top mullah Ali Khamenei had to admit, saying in August that Iranians had yet to see a “tangible effect” in their daily lives.
Khamenei has sharpened his criticism. He has continued to emphasize a “resistance economy” aimed at boosting domestic production for export and warned against Western “infiltration” by way of the agreement, highlighting the fact that the mullah’s regime is incapable of making any radical change in country’s economy.
He may be recognizing that as the Iranian regime is getting squeezed again, he and his fellow mullahs will need to crack down harder to keep their tenuous hold on the Iranian people.