You probably missed the news that four women were recently stoned to death in the country President Obama loves to flatter by calling it the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their bodies showed up in the Tehran morgue mid-month. So far as I have read, no one has claimed the cadavers.
You may also have missed the big roundup of homosexuals and devil-worshippers in Kermanshah Province. Regime media reported with horror that eight of the gays were married.
And then there was the mass arrests of a hundred Kurds in Tehran. Why Kurds? The answer: there’s a real war on in the region, and the Kurds are in the middle. Kurds in Turkey are fighting for autonomy against the Erdogan crowd. Kurds in Iraq have carved out a great degree of independence from Baghdad, and are profitably engaged in cross-border commerce with the Iranian Kurds, who are helping the Turkish Kurds…who are helping the Syrian Kurds, who have established control over significant areas of the north, and who just grabbed one of the two principal border crossings into Iraq. The Tehran regime is fighting Kurds in the area near Turkey, and the arrests are probably part of that campaign.
Don’t think this region is easily sorted out. You have to pay attention all the time.
Meanwhile, the regime continues its vicious campaign (some would call it a genocidal war) against the country’s Arabs, the Ahwazis. Not only are they afflicted with intense air and water pollution (although Ahwaz City is rated the most polluted on earth, it’s part of a national pattern; Iran holds four of the “top” ten positions in the “world’s-most-polluted-cities” competition), but they are under brutal repression. It seems to have increased after Rouhani’s election in June. Indeed, repression is worse all over the country; 150 have been (officially) executed since the Great Moderate won office.
If you only read the MSM headlines, you’d likely believe that the Rouhani administration had greatly eased up on political repression. There were early reports that eighty political prisoners had been released, but there are no names, and no sightings. One student activist was temporarily let out on bail, to the great and justified delight of those in the West who campaigned for him, but he can be arrested at any time, and sure doesn’t look like he wants to take on Rouhani.
For those who continue to maintain the fiction of a kinder, gentler Iran, consider that the judicial authorities have declared an end to any “further” releases.
There was also a lot of talk about the possible release of the country’s most famous political prisoners: Mir Hossein Mousavi, who won the presidential elections four years ago and, along with his firebrand wife and political sidekick Mehdi Karroubi, has been illegally held under house arrest since early 2010, never charged with a crime, and in steadily worsening health.
The judiciary made it clear that the ban on the release of political prisoners includes the Mousavis and Karroubi:
In a press conference yesterday, the Iranian judiciary’s spokesperson, Mohsen Ejei, announced that more political prisoners would not be released on the upcoming religious holidays and said that former President Mohammad Khatami’s travel ban is still in place.
Based on statements by the intelligence and justice ministers, Iranian media had expected the release of some high profile political prisoners, particularly those arrested after the 2009 election protests, especially 2009 presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hussein Moussavi and his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, who have been under house arrest without charge since February 2011. Ejei, however, denied these claims.
Mousavi’s two daughters visited recently, and you can judge from the first-hand account of one of the women whether the new leadership is improving human rights in Iran. They were held for hours in a guard house, and searched. At a certain point, they were ordered by one of the female guards to remove all their clothes, underwear and all.
To try and describe her treatment of us defies basic human decency. After refusing to take off our underclothes, she attacked us and smacked both my sister Zahra and myself in the ear with a great deal of force. As I was trying to grab her hand to keep her from attacking us any further, she stopped acting like a human being and bit my entire wrist like a wild animal.
The post includes a photograph of the bite marks.
In short, it’s ugly business as usual, and if there is any change in the regime’s treatment of its own citizens, it’s worse than before. Indeed, in some areas, any pretense of judicial propriety has been summarily dismissed. A couple of days ago, there was an attack against Iranian soldiers in Balochistan–14 killed–and 16 suspects were simply rounded up and hanged.
What, if anything, does this have to do with the regime’s oft-stated winks and leers, promising a “new” relationship with the West, especially with the United States? You might wonder if the increased repression is being imposed in the anticipation of a deal, and the regime leaders want to make sure that their many domestic opponents aren’t tempted to rise up against a regime that has shown weakness in its dealings with the West.
That’s possible, but not likely. It flies in the face of what we know about the regime leaders’ reading of Obama. They don’t think they have anything to fear from him, and they expect he will accept a deal favorable to them. They expect an immediate easing of sanctions, “in exchange” for promises of good Iranian behavior in the future. They will have been reassured at the recent spectacle of the White House asking Congress not to vote any new sanctions. This demonstrates a lack of understanding, since a vigorous Congress enables our negotiators to tell the Iranians “you’d better get serious and shut down the nuclear program, or these crazy people will just pile on.”
Instead, the Iranians are playing that card, telling us “you’d better get serious and give something tangible to Rouhani, or the crazy hard-liners will make everything more dangerous.”
There’s a difference between us, after all. Obama wants a deal. The Iranians want us dead or dominated. They want to treat us the same way they treat their own.