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The UN Human Rights Council Hits a New Low

March 2 2018

On Tuesday, the UN Human Rights Council—a body where representatives of various tyrannies gather to condemn Israel—entertained the Iranian justice minister, Alireza Avaei, whose speech bemoaned the excessive influence wielded by Western countries over the United Nations. Avaei, who serves a regime that brutally oppresses its own people and engineers mass-slaughter abroad, has himself overseen the torture and execution of thousands. Sohrab Ahmari comments:

[A] report on the 1988 massacre of thousands of Iranian dissidents identifies Avaei as an “interrogator and torturer at a prison” in Dezful, in southern Iran. There, Avaei sat on the “death commissions” that carried out Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa ordering the regime to liquidate imprisoned leftists and members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).

Mohammad-Reza Ashooq had been caught in the dragnet and sent to Avaei’s prison merely because he sympathized ideologically with the MEK. As he later remembered, Avaei was one of three men present at his death commission. . . . Ashooq survived [a death sentence] by jumping out of the window of [a] minibus. But some 30,000 others didn’t, including children as young as thirteen.

Avaei’s career in torture and summary execution didn’t end there. Two decades later, as chief of justice in Tehran Province, he helped oversee the bloody crackdown against the pro-democracy Green Movement. This involved the operation of Kahrizak, a makeshift prison and interrogation camp where young dissidents were raped using batons and soda bottles. . . . Now Avaei can boast of having addressed the Human Rights Council, thanks to a bankrupt UN system that treats democracies and dictatorships as morally equivalent, entitled to an equal say in human-rights matters.

Years of U.S. “engagement” under the Obama and Trump administrations have failed to improve matters. More than a decade since the council’s founding, 25 of its 47 members are classified as unfree or partly free by Freedom House. These include such human-rights champions as China, Cuba, and Venezuela. Meanwhile, Israel remains the only state to be the subject of a permanent agenda item. . . . [T]he best thing Washington can do is to pull out of the UN Human Rights Council as it did earlier with UNESCO. Lending American legitimacy to this cruelly misnamed body sets back the noble cause of human rights.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Human Rights, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, UNHRC, United Nations

 

The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah