Publius / January 11, 2016

Iran Deal Empowers the Radicals

Moderate bait for Obama?

What will Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran accomplish? Not the strengthening of moderates in the country, if the Wall Street Journal’s latest report is to be believed. In fact, just the opposite. “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. … 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.”

To be sure, an Iranian president is chosen entirely democratically, either. The nation’s religious leaders essentially rig the process. But if they set up Rouhani to be “moderate” bait for Obama, then he bought it hook, line and sinker, all in pursuit of his own legacy.

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