Tag Archives: Rouhani

Israel should welcome Rouhani’s election victory

3 Oct

My latest article argues that Israel should in fact  welcome Rouhani’s election victory in Iran and why


Rouhani recognized the holocaust, within his limitations

25 Sep

At last, Rouhani mentioned the holocaust. 

In his recent interview with Christianne Amanpour he stated:

“I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect,”.

Note the word “dimensions”. He is saying the holocaust did happen, but he is leaving it to the historians to decide its full extent.

Now we could say he is disputing the numbers. Thats a valid argument.

Yet, he did go on to say:

“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews we condemn”.

So he is not saying that six millions were not killed. He is saying whatever the numbers, which could be six million or less, was a crime.

The next frustrating question is: why doesn’t he just put an end to this discussion by saying “Yes, six million were killed in the holocaust”. Because now others could say that by leaving out the exact numbers he is still disputing the holocaust.

The answer, which much like the question is also frustrating is that Rouhani works for a holocaust denier, called Ayatollah Khamenei. In Rouhani’s case what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas. In Iran the supreme leader and his allies are listening to and analyzing every word he utters at the UN.

Vegas is nice, but you always have to go back home to face the music. Rouhani did not want to gamble too much while he was away, as he has a boss to go back to in Tehran.

Which is also why in my opinion he refused to meet with the Americans, even though Obama was reportedly ready to do this.

To conclude, in my opinion, within the limitations that Rouhani faces from Khamenei & Co at home, and based on my understanding of nuances of double talk which is quite prevalent in Iranian politics, Rouhani recognized that the holocaust happened. On this question, he pushed the envelope as far as it could go, without endangering his position with Khamenei, who to him is far more important than Netanyahu or Obama.

However not everyone in the world is interested in understanding his limitations, or the nuances of Iranian political parlance. There are many people who lost their loved ones in the terrible tragedy that is the holocaust, and to them, the full, open recognition of that tragedy is far more important than the limitation which Rouhani faces. So the discussions are likely to continue.

Rouhani: this year’s UN celebrity

17 Sep

There is little doubt who will be this UN General Assembly’s celebrity: Hassan Rouhani.

With Ahmadinejad gone and reports about exchange of letters between Rouhani and Obama emerging, there will be much excitement about Rouhani’s presence at the UN.

What is likely to add more attention to Rouahni’s presence is a report published today in Der Spiegel. The report, citing intelligence sources says that Iran is prepared to close its nuclear plant in Fordo in return for lifting of the current sanctions.

Whether or not this report is true, people will be wanting to know what the anti-Ahmadinejad representing Iran at the UN will say. And more importantly, is he about to offer a new deal to Obama on behalf of Ayatollah Khamenei?

Which is why its important that the Israeli Prime Minister chooses his words carefully. Israel does not want to end up looking like the warmonger. Lets take a break from the “all options on the table” line. Yes we all know it is there and no, just because you don’t say it, the Iranian regime is not going to dash for the bomb. Tehran has a much bigger and more dangerous threat to worry about: the sanctions.

Rouhani’s Rosh Hashana greeting and its potential impact

5 Sep

Rouhani’s Rosh Hashana greeting on twitter (below) has captured the attention of the Israeli press. It would be an understatement to say that it was a surprise – a pleasant one.

So much so that in its report about the message, Israel’s channel 2 website asked if the end of times has arrived!

Meanwhile Yediot Ahronot described the message as “another sign of moderation from Hassan Rouhani“.

What does this mean?

In my opinion, this statement is a clear sign that there is a new man in town, and he wants to put an end to the antisemitic narrative which came from Iran’s presidential office, formerly occupied by Mahmoud Ahmadinjejad.

However I don’t think it can interpreted as a sign of policy change from the Iranian government towards Israel. The person who is in charge of that policy is Ayatollah Khamenei and not Rouhani.

What impact will it have?

It is likely to have a positive impact, albeit a limited one on the way the Iranian regime is seen in Israel. We could even see Israeli politicians such as President Peres welcoming this message.

What is more important to many Israelis are the policies which Iran will adopt at its next nuclear negotiations meeting with the P5+1, and Khamenei’s policies and statements towards Israel.

Update: Mohammad Reza Sadegh who is Rouhani’s adviser has denied that Rouhani issued such a message. According to him Rouhani does not even have an official twitter account.

Update 2: Iran’s Foreign Minister has issued a Rosh Hashana message on his twitter account (which as confirmed by Christian Amanpour is his)


It seems that Rouhani was misquoted

2 Aug

The original story by MEHR- click to expand (in Persian)

This morning, the Iran based Mehr news published  a story (right) in which they quoted Iran’s newly elected president in their headline as saying:

روحانی: اسرائیل زخمی است بر پیکر جهان اسلام که باید از بین برود
Exact translation:
Israel is a wound on the body of the world of Islam that must be destroyed.
Since then a video has emerged in which it seems that Rouhani was misquoted by Mehr.
In the video,  according to the indispensable Iran Pulse publication of Al Monitor , Rouhani actually says:
“Quds day, which is in memorial of Imam [Khomeini], is a day that people present the unity of Islam against any type of oppression or aggression. And in any case, in our region, it is an old wound that has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world, in the shadow of the occupation of the holy land of Palestine and the dear Quds. And this day, in fact, is a remembrance that Muslim people will not forget this historical right and will always stand against oppression and aggression.”
He does not say that this wound must be removed, as Mehr news originally reported. Nor does he actually mention Israel or the “Zionist regime” as Mehr and then ISNA quoted him as saying. Since then Mehr has corrected its story and used the actual quote instead. So has ISNA.
Its possible that Mehr and ISNA were sloppy in their reporting. Its also possible that some of the reporters wanted to embarrass Rouhani by misquoting him. No one knows. But he was misquoted .
To the Iranian regime, there is no difference between Israel’s legal post 1948 borders and land captured and occupied after 1967. To the Iranian government, all of Israel is occupied Palestinian land.  Rouhani who is supposed to be a moderate has never made that distinction.
Therefore his latest statement is deeply offensive to many Israelis.
Nevertheless, he was misquoted and misrepresented. Also, he can not be compared to Ahmadinejad who was not only anti-Israeli, but also an anti-semite who denied the holocaust.

نتانیاهو و روحانی

18 Jul

در برنامه صفحه ٢ بی بی سی فارسی امروز شرکت کردم و همراه با آقای اکبر گنجی راجع به دیدگاه و اظهارات نتانیاهو به رئیس جمهور جدید ایران و عواقب پیروزی روحانی برای دولت اسرائیل صحبت کردم. امیدوارم که مورد پسند شما قرار بگیره


An Iranian Nuclear Bluff

11 Jul

In his recent article “FIVE OPTIONS FOR IRAN’S NEW PRESIDENTDr Hossein Mousavian, has described one of the options being available to president Rouhani to be the following:

Withdraw from the NPT and all WMD treaties. Iran can substitute the treaties with the supreme leader’s religious fatwa banning all WMDs. In this option, the West’s policy of “only obligations and no rights” would force Iran to change its posture on WMD conventions. This move will relieve Iran of its treaty obligations, which have been used by the West to place further sanctions on Tehran.

This is an option which has been addressed before by the Iranian government. Mousavian mentions this in his article.

In all likelihood, the only time Iran is likely to take this option is if its attacked military. This is in fact one of the supporting arguments for those who are against a military attack against Iran’s nuclear installations. Attacking Iran unilaterally while negotiations are taking place could give Iran the justification to leave the NPT.

But to leave the NPT under the current circumstances while the negotiations are taking place? And more importantly while Iran’s economy is suffering under unprecedented pressure?

Very unlikely.

The Iranian regime would like to portray to the West that sanctions have not had an impact on the recent election of Rouhani. However a close look at the attacks against Khamenei’s nuclear policy (represented by Jalili) during the election debates present a different picture. The reason why Khamenei’s  nuclear policies were being challenged by half of the candidates is precisely because they have had negative consequences, with sanctions being chief among them . Rouhani referred  to the disproportionate economic price being paid for Iran’s current nuclear policy himself while campaigning:

It’s very nice that centrifuges spin, but as long as the country is functioning. If centrifuges are turning, but the country is dormant , then we don’t choose this. If the arrangement is for one factory in Natanz to work but 100 other factories close because of sanctions and shortage of primary material or they only work at 20% of their capacity, then this is unacceptable”

And Rouhani is going to bring the country’s economy to the point of collapse by following the North Korean model of leaving the NPT? One of the reasons (among many) why Iran can’t follow the North Korean model is because its economy is far more vulnerable than than that of North Korea.

Unless Iran is attacked militarily, leaving the NPT under the current circumstances sounds like a bluff. Sorry, but not buying it.