History Contradicts the Dream of Iranian Moderation

(Wall Street Journal) Reuel Marc Gerecht - Backers of the nuclear accord with Iran hopefully insist that once plugged back into the global economy, Iran will become less militant. This is an unlikely scenario. Free enterprise in clerical Iran is an Islamic variation of the state capitalism now practiced in Putin's Russia: corrupt, nepotistic, and constrained and co-opted by internal security forces. The Islamic Republic's economy is a competition between revolution-loyal mafias. After Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, died in 1989, then President Rafsanjani, with future President Rouhani at his side, encouraged and welcomed European engagement. Yet terrorism and support for Hizbullah remained a staple of the regime's statecraft. The bombings in Argentina of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and a Jewish community center in 1994 happened on Rafsanjani's watch. So did the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American servicemen. During this period, the assassination of Iranian expatriates became common. How will so-called moderation this time around, led by President Rouhani, be any different? The Revolutionary Guards are now much more powerful, both economically and politically, than they were in the 1990s. Lifting sanctions will release more than $100 billion in oil revenues, a windfall certain to unleash their appetites. We will see a feeding frenzy. And as the Washington Post's imprisoned reporter Jason Rezaian can testify, freedom of speech has contracted since Rouhani became president. The writer, a former Iranian targets officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2015-08-04 00:00:00

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