from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The Nature of the Islamic Republic

February 6, 2012

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Two keen insights into the nature of Iran’s regime have appeared recently.

The first is an account by a German journalist who was imprisoned in Iran in October 2010 "after interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery." The journalist, Marcus Hellwig, was freed a year ago and has only now told his story. Hellwig told the German press that

he was beaten by guards during his nearly five months of imprisonment in Iran and that he heard constant, ’horrible cries’ of other inmates being tortured.

The second is an article in the Iranian press--apparently being circulated now in the Revolutionary Guards’ Fars News Agency but originating at the web site Alef, which has ties to the Supreme Leader--that calls for genocide against Jews. The author, Alireza Forghani, is not an important figure in Iran; what is important is that key regime web sites are promoting his views. A report at the WND web site summarizes the central paragraph this way:

Under this pre-emptive defensive doctrine, several Ground Zero points of Israel must be destroyed and its people annihilated. Forghani cites the last census by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics that shows Israel has a population of 7.5 million citizens of which a majority of 5.7 million are Jewish. Then it breaks down the districts with the highest concentration of Jewish people, indicating that three cities, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, contain over 60 percent of the Jewish population that Iran could target with its Shahab 3 ballistic missiles, killing all its inhabitants.

This call for genocide is acceptable discourse in the Islamic Republic. These two stories are a reminder of the evil nature of the regime, and help explain why Israelis say it is unacceptable for that regime to possess nuclear weapons. Of course, everyone says that--the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, even Russia and China. But these two stories are a reminder of why the Israelis seem to mean it.

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