A Political Prisoner’s Death Is a Grim Reminder of the Islamic Republic’s Brutality

A year ago, Navid Afkari, a popular Iranian wrestler, was executed by the Iranian government for participating in a political protest. Now his former cellmate has died as well. Elliott Abrams writes:

As Iranian diplomats attend the United Nations General Assembly and the Biden administration seeks to get back to the nuclear negotiating table with Iran, the Iranian regime has just reminded us again of its fundamental nature.

Afkari’s cellmate Shahin Naseri, who testified that Afkari had been tortured, has now died in prison. Radio Farda, a U.S. government Fasi-language radio station, said it possessed an audio message from Naseri referring to the “medieval torture” of Afkari. Messages like that appear to have been a death sentence for Naseri.

No doubt the regime will say he committed suicide or was killed by a fellow prisoner, but it is difficult to imagine that anyone—inside Iran or outside—will believe that statement. And given the nature of the regime, there cannot be any kind of independent investigation.

So Naseri’s death is a grim reminder, days after the anniversary of Afkari’s execution, of the lawless nature of the Islamic Republic, and of its willingness to use any degree of brutality to retain its grip on power.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Human Rights, Iran

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy