Iran is currently striving to manage a number of increasingly painstaking dilemmas. International spotlight is again on Tehran’s nuclear program, with the United States demanding United Nations inspectors be granted access to its military sites.
Raja'i Shahr (Gohardasht) prison in Karaj, 20 kilometers west of Tehran
Equally troubling is Iran’s collaboration with North Korea to pursue their nuclear ambitions and ballistic missile capabilities. Such dossiers are enough to undermine the spirit of the JCPOA, Tehran now also considers its meddling in the Middle East indispensable in its effort to establish a regional empire reaching the Mediterranean.
Despite pledges of reforms provided during May’s presidential election season, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has presided over more than 100 executions during the month of July alone. His first tenure, from 2013 to 2017 witnessed over 3,000 being sent to the gallows despite numerous calls for at least a temporary cessation.
In the past month another urgent plight has emerged as dozens of political prisoners in Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) prison of Karaj, west of Tehran were suddenly transferred into a section on July 30th and kept under “suffocating” conditions, as described by Amnesty International.
On this day over 50 political prisoners in ward 10 of Raja’i Shahr prison witnessed authorities resort to force in transferring them to the new location. This slate included prisoners of conscience, human rights advocates, trade unionists, journalists, students, peaceful political dissidents, and members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community.
Already deprived of any access to clean, drinking water and food, the absence of adequate beds are also robbing these political prisoners of any sleep. Even water purification devices purchased at the prisoners’ own expenses were confiscated by authorities and maintained at their previous location.
I am a political/rights activist focusing on Iran & the Middle East. I also write in Al Arabiya English, and contributed to The Hill, Algemeiner and Raddington Report. I tweet @HeshmatAlavi
By Heshmat Alavi 18 September 2017 There is a new understanding in Washington over how US President Donald Trump, set to deliver his first United Nations General Assembly speech tomorrow, can tackle the Iran challenge.
It would be wrong to view the conglomerate of Iran-created crises through a single periscope focusing exclusively on the nuclear dilemma. Iran’s meddling in states across the Middle East, its support for terrorists groups including the likes of the Lebanese Hezbollah, the continuous pursuit of ballistic missiles and domestic human rights violations are also serious concerns.
Eleven years ago, Henry Kissinger famously said that Iran’s rulers must “decide whether they are representing a cause or a nation.” If the latter, Iranian and American interests would be “compatible.” As for the former: “If Tehran insists on combining the Persian imperial tradition with contemporary Islamic fervor, then a collision with America is unavoidable.”
Since then, Iran’s rulers have left no room for doubt. They’ve been aggressively spreading their Islamic Revolution and constructing what can only be called a new Persian Empire. That will surprise no one who has seriously studied the ideology of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic. What might: Their project has received significant support from the United States.