Iran’s New President Earned His Post with Bloodshed

June 21 2021

On Saturday, Ebraham Raisi was announced the victor in the Islamic Republic’s presidential election—winning 62 percent of the vote, according to the regime’s official numbers. While subordinate to the unelected supreme leader, the Iranian president is formally the chief executive, and the face the country presents to the world. Raisi rose to prominence in the 1980s as Iran’s prosecutor general, in which capacity he played a key role in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. Tzvi Kahn writes:

Raisi . . . facilitated the 1988 slaughter by serving on a four-member panel known as a Death Commission, which decided who would live and who would die. The commission would conduct interviews of prisoners—often just a few minutes long—aimed at determining their loyalty to the Islamic Republic. . . . The executions . . . typically took place the same day as the interrogations. The commissions allowed neither lawyers nor appeals. Burials occurred in unmarked mass graves. The regime waited months before notifying the relatives of the victims, refused to tell them the locations of the bodies, and told them not to mourn in public.

During [2009’s failed] Green Revolution, Raisi served as deputy chief justice, making him complicit in the prosecution—and, in some cases, the death sentences—of peaceful protesters who objected to Iran’s fraudulent election.

In 2019, the Trump administration sanctioned Raisi, citing his conduct in the 1988 massacre and the 2009 protests. Now, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has indicated that the Biden administration may lift some non-nuclear sanctions on Iran in order to persuade Tehran to reenter the 2015 nuclear deal. The regime, for its part, has pressed America’s negotiators to lift all nuclear and non-nuclear sanctions, which would include a removal of Raisi from the blacklist. The Biden administration should resist such pressure.

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Read more at RealClear World

More about: Human Rights, Iran, Iran sanctions, U.S. Foreign policy

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism