Sunday, January 10, 2016

Obama Nuclear Deal Fuels Iran’s Hard-Liners

Since completion of the agreement, Tehran has stepped up arrests of political opponents ahead of next month’s national elections.

The article also exposes how Obama made a strategic decision to NOT help the 'Green revolution' to oust the mullahs and specifically ordered the CIA to not help the democracy movement.
(WSJ) The Obama administration’s nuclear deal was intended to keep Iran from pursuing an atomic bomb, and raised hope in the West that Tehran would be nudged toward a more moderate path.

But there are growing fears in Washington and Europe that the deal—coupled with an escalating conflict with Saudi Arabia—instead risks further entrenching Iran’s hard-line camp.

Since completion of the agreement in July, Tehran security forces, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have stepped up arrests of political opponents in the arts, media and the business community, part of a crackdown aimed at ensuring Mr. Khamenei’s political allies dominate national elections scheduled for Feb. 26, according to Iranian politicians and analysts.

“Americans have set their eyes covetously on elections, but the great and vigilant nation of Iran will act contrary to the enemies’ will, whether it be in elections or on other issues, and as before will punch them in the mouth,” he told a meeting of prayer leaders this week.

And in a challenge to the U.S., Iran in recent weeks tested two ballistic missiles and fired rockets near U.S. naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. and European officials had hoped the nuclear accord would broaden cooperation with Tehran, and empower Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to promote democratic change. He was elected in 2013 on a platform to end the nuclear standoff and build bridges to the West.

The agreement, which calls for Iran to scale back its nuclear work in exchange for removal of international sanctions, fueled euphoria in Tehran among residents, students and business executives seeking greater freedom.

But the continuing purge and the conflict with Saudi Arabia stand to weaken Mr. Rouhani, a moderate Islamic cleric who backed the nuclear deal that involved more than two years of negotiations by his closest aides.

As much as $100 billion in frozen revenues are expected to return to Iran after sanctions are lifted, which U.S. officials said could happen in coming weeks. The White House hoped the cash windfall would aid Mr. Rouhani’s political fortunes. But Iranian academics close to Mr. Rouhani are increasingly concerned Mr. Khamenei will use the money and diplomatic rewards to entrench hard-line allies, at the expense of the president.

Many of the companies about to be removed from international blacklists are part of military and religious foundations, including some that report directly to Mr. Khamenei. [...]

[...] the ranks of reformists in Iran have been depleted. Many activists are angry at the Obama administration for failing to support them six years ago in a rebuff that hasn’t been previously reported.

Iranian opposition leaders secretly reached out to the White House in the summer of 2009 to gauge Mr. Obama’s support for their “green revolution,” which drew millions of people to protest the allegedly fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The demonstrations caught the White House off guard, said current and former U.S. officials who worked on Iran in the Obama administration.

Some U.S. officials pressed Mr. Obama to publicly back the fledgling Green Movement, arguing in Oval Office meetings that it marked the most important democratic opening since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Mr. Obama wasn’t convinced. “‘Let’s give it a few days,’ was the answer,” said a senior U.S. official present at some of the White House meetings. “It was made clear: ‘We should monitor, but do nothing.’ ”

...Mr. Obama and his advisers decided to maintain silence in the early days of the 2009 uprising. The Central Intelligence Agency was ordered away from any covert work to support the Green Movement either inside Iran or overseas, said current and former U.S. officials involved in the discussions.