What the Demonstrations in Iran Have Already Achieved

Jan. 10 2018

For the time being, the Islamic Republic seems to be succeeding in suppressing public protests, but, writes Sohrab Ahmari, the movement behind them has not failed. In fact, it has accomplished something merely by upending various misguided notions about the regime’s priorities and proclivities:

First, the Iran protests showed that the people are not rallying to the regime under the press of President Trump’s hawkish rhetoric. Far from being “swept up in a wave of nationalist fervor,” as the New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink reported a few weeks before the uprising, Iranians still detest their corrupt, repressive regime. . . . [T]he average Iranian doesn’t wake up in the morning cursing Donald Trump for trying to undo the nuclear deal. More likely, he curses the fact that he can’t even afford eggs to feed his children, and there are more proximate actors whom he blames for that: namely, the mullahs.

Second, the uprising revealed, once and for all, that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been no moderate, and that the reformer-vs.-hardliner distinction is meaningless. . . . The people have also been chanting, “Reformists, Hardliners, the Whole Game Is Over.” Let’s hope the same realization soon dawns in Washington and Brussels. . . .

Third, the protesters put the lie to the Obama administration’s claims about the 2015 nuclear deal. Remember when senior Obama officials reassured Americans that Iran would use the sanctions relief under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to improve the lots of its people? . . . Millions of jobless and impoverished Iranians now beg to differ. It turns out that the regime was happy to spend the JCPOA funds on Hizballah, Hamas, the Yemenite Houthis, and other nasties, even if that meant Iranians would go hungry. And those hungry people aren’t mistaken about the roots of their hunger. Iran remains the world’s top state sponsor of terror, according to the U.S. State Department. . . . The American people are under no obligation to finance Iran’s terrorist statecraft.

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More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, New York Times, Politics & Current Affairs

While Pursuing a Thaw with Israel, Saudi Arabia Foments Anti-Semitism at Home

July 18 2018

For the better part of this century, Jerusalem and Riyadh have cooperated clandestinely to contain Iran’s growing power. The kingdom has also increasingly aimed its diplomatic and propaganda efforts against Qatar, whose funding of Islamist groups—including Hamas—has damaged both Saudi Arabia and Israel. But, writes Edy Cohen, there’s a dark side to Riyadh’s efforts against the enemies of the Jewish state:

The [Saudi cyberwarfare agency’s] Twitter account tweets daily, mostly against Qatar and Iran. It uses anti-Semitic terminology, referring to Qatar as “Qatariel,” a portmanteau of Qatar and Israel, and claiming the [Qatar-sponsored] Al Jazeera network “belongs to the Israeli Mossad.”

“‘The deal of the century’ is a Qatari scheme to sell Palestine to the Zionist entity,’” one tweet reads, while another alleges that the “Zionist” Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the father of [Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is scheming to divide the Arab states to fulfill the dreams of the “Zionist entity” and Iran. Yet another tweet alleges that Qatar is “trying to destroy the Arab world to serve the enemies of the Muslim world: Israel and Iran.” These statements penetrate deep into the Arab consciousness and increase existing hatred toward Jews and Israel.

The Saudis, then, are playing a double game. Behind the scenes, they send the Israelis the message that Iran is a common enemy and goad them to fight Iran and Hizballah. At home, however, they say the enemy is first and foremost the state of Israel, followed by Iran. Their formula is clear: covert ties with Israel coupled with overt hostility to the Jewish state to satisfy the people, a majority of whom hate Israel.

The Saudi double game is reminiscent of the Egyptian model under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in that dozens of anti-Semitic articles are published daily, while the Israeli populace is not exposed to the phenomenon and the politicians close their ears. Following the signing of the 1994 Oslo Accords, the Palestinians asked Israel for permission to incite “moderately” against the Jewish state for “domestic needs.” This incitement turned deadly and was used as live ammunition for the boycott, sanctions, and divestment movement (BDS). We must not give in and accept the incitement against us, and that is also true when Saudi Arabia is concerned. Incitement translates into action, and that action comes at a price.

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More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Qatar, Saudi Arabia