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


To Undermine Russian and Iranian Influence in Syria, the U.S. Must Go on the Offensive

March 22 2018

When Iranian-lead, pro-Assad forces attacked U.S. allies in Syria last month, they found themselves quickly overwhelmed by American firepower. The incident, writes Tony Badran, makes clear that the U.S. has the capability to push back against the Damascus-Tehran-Moscow axis. By taking a more aggressive approach while working closely with Israel, Badran argues, Washington can at once prevent Russia and Iran from cementing their control of Syria and avoid getting drawn into a wider conflict:

Israeli assets can augment U.S. capabilities considerably. A few days after the skirmish in Deir Ezzour in February, Iran flew a drone into Israeli air space. Israel responded by destroying the Iranian command center at the Tiyas military air base near Palmyra, and then proceeded to bomb a large number of Iranian and Assad-regime targets. The episode again underscored the vulnerability of Iran, to say nothing of the brittle Assad regime. Close coordination with Israel to expand this ongoing targeting campaign against Iranian and Hizballah infrastructure, senior cadres, and logistical routes, and amplifying it with U.S. assets in the region, would have a devastating effect on Iran’s position in Syria.

By going on the offensive, the U.S. will also strengthen Israel’s hand with Russia, reducing Jerusalem’s need to petition the Kremlin and thereby diminishing Moscow’s ability to position itself as an arbiter on Israeli security. For instance, instead of haggling with Russia to obtain its commitment to keep Iran five or seven kilometers away from the Israeli border, the U.S. could adopt the Israeli position on Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and assist Israel in enforcing it. Such a posture would have a direct effect on another critical ally, Jordan, whose role is of high importance in southern Syria and in the U.S. zone in the east.

Assad and Iran are the scaffolding on which the Russian position stands. Targeting them, therefore, undercuts Moscow and reduces its leverage. By merely forcing Russia to respect Israeli and Jordanian needs on the border, the U.S. would undermine Russia’s attempt, more generally, to leverage its position in Syria to make headway into the U.S. alliance system. In addition to adopting a more offensive military posture, the U.S. should also intensify the economic chokehold on Assadist Syria.

Read more at Caravan

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy