A Loss for the “Moderates” in the Iranian Election Is Good for Both Iran and the U.S.

This Friday, Iran will hold its presidential election. Among the frontrunners is the supposedly moderate incumbent Hassan Rouhani, during whose term executions have continued at an alarmingly high rate, freedom of speech and association has been restricted ever more harshly, and Tehran has become more aggressive abroad. Elliott Abrams is endorsing one of Rouhani’s opponents, Ibrahim Raisi:

Raisi [is] as hardline an Iranian cleric as one can find. . . . In Iran he is best known for his service on the “Death Commissions” as one of four judges who oversaw the executions of 4,000 to 5,000 political prisoners in 1988. The deputy supreme leader at that time, Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, called those executions “the biggest crime in the history of the Islamic Republic.” . . . That was a long time ago, but Raisi has not changed. . . . [So] how could any American possibly want him to win?

It’s simple. Raisi is the true face of the Islamic Republic, while Rouhani is a façade. Rouhani has shown himself powerless to effect any change in the regime’s conduct and his only role is to mislead the West into thinking “moderates” are in charge. We are far better off, as we were when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was president, when there are no illusions about Iran’s regime and the men who lead it.

If there is a fair election Rouhani will most likely win, and then we can expect a barrage of newspaper stories about how Iran is moderating, modernizing, and changing—so we must not push it too hard, and should instead help Rouhani improve Iran’s economy. . . . While it would be useful to empower true moderates, tough policies that make hostile regimes . . . pay a high price for repression and aggression are far more likely to help moderates than weak policies that mean the regimes pay no price at all.

If Raisi wins, two things will happen. First, it will be evident—especially to Iranians—that the election was stolen, so the Iranian people will be that much more alienated from their rulers. The day the regime falls will have been brought that much closer. And second, the entire world will have a much clearer view of the nature of that regime today.

Read more at Politico

More about: Hassan Rouhani, Iran, Iranian election, Politics & Current Affairs

The EU Must Stop Tolerating Hizballah

July 21 2017

Tuesday was the fifth anniversary of the bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which left five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian dead. After the bombing, the EU designated the “military wing” of Hizballah, which carried out the attack, a terrorist organization. But unlike the U.S., Egypt, and the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the EU doesn’t apply this designation to the Hizballah’s “political wing.” Toby Dershowitz and Benjamin Weinthal write:

[T]he EU needs to . . . recognize, as Hizballah [itself] does, that the organization isn’t bifurcated into political and military “wings.” . . . Hizballah’s terror-financing activities and its critical role in the Syrian war should be enough for the EU to deport Hizballah members from its 28 member countries. Anything short of full designation would enable Hizballah to continue fundraising and operating its front companies. Last year, for instance, . . . German authorities uncovered a money-laundering operation in Europe that amassed nearly €1 million ($1.1 million) a week for more than two years, money that Europol and the U.S. Treasury Department says went to fund Hizballah.

Membership recruitment in Europe is also a significant tool for Hizballah. According to a recent German intelligence report, there are 950 active Hizballah members in Germany. This calls into question the effectiveness of the EU’s 2013 sanctions, which were imposed only on Hizballah’s “military wing.” . . .

Should Europe maintain the status quo . . . it does so at its own peril. European security will continue to be put at risk. And Hizballah will be given the signal that Europe is far from serious about countering terrorism.

Read more at FDD

More about: Bulgaria, European Union, Hizballah, Politics & Current Affairs, Terrorism