Wednesday, August 22, 2012

120 Nations Ready To Prove Obama's Iran Sanctions Are A Sham

The effectiveness of the sanctions spearheaded by the Obama administration against Iran are predicated on the idea of isolating Iran and forcing it to end its drive for nuclear capabilities.

David Goldman writes that contrary to protestations to the contrary, Obama's sanctions against Iran are a failure:
The problem is that American foreign policy faces catastrophic failure, or rather a comprehensive set of failures, bearing directly on Israeli security. Not only have sanctions failed to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic Republic has broken out of diplomatic isolation. Turkey, supposedly America's partner in regional diplomacy, has reached out to Russia and China. And Egypt has reached out to Iran while threatening Israel in the Sinai. China is hosting a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement at which Iran will assume the organization's three-year rotating chairmanship. Egyptian President Morsi will visit Tehran on Aug. 25 on his way back from the summit.
Jonathan Tobin picks up on that theme of the upcoming meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) when he writes Iran Isolated? Tell it to the UN:

Far from being isolated, the Iranians are still enjoying the support of much of the world, something that will be made all too clear next week when the so-called Non-Aligned Movement convenes its annual meeting in Tehran. It’s bad enough that 120-member states of the group will send representatives to the gathering that will undermine any thought that the Islamist regime has no friends. But if United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon goes to the meeting too it will put a fork in the notion that the Iranians have much to worry about. That worries left-wing columnist Chemi Shalev, who writes in Haaretz that the symbolism of the UN chief arriving in the Iranian capital will be used by both Israeli and American critics of Obama’s feckless policy. He’s right.

Shalev ruefully notes that even if Ban listens to his critics and avoids the Tehran conference, the Non-Aligned Movement event will mark a watershed in the failing effort to bring the ayatollahs to heel. It will not only embarrass President Obama but also make it all too clear that those who believe the bulk of the world is against Israel are right.
Tobin refers to the NAM meeting as a 'circus' -- an appropriate term perhaps considering that on paper, at least, membership in NAM is supposed to be based on the core principles of the United Nations.
  • Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations.
  • Recognition of the movements for national independence.
  • Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations, large and small.
  • Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country.
  • Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself singly or collectively, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country.
  • Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations.
  • Promotion of mutual interests and co-operation.
  • Respect for justice and international obligations.
We leave it to the reader to judge whether the above sounds like the resume of Iran.

At February meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi bragged about Iran's human rights record:
Iran has the most successful record in terms of human rights among Muslim countries in the contemporary world, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday.
he facts paint a very different picture.

Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has come up with lists of various human rights abuses that Iran has been racking up over the years.

Here are a few.

In the Washington Post on September 18, 2011, Sadjadpour addressed a number of questions to Ahmadnejad about Iran's record on human rights. Among the questions:

  • Somayeh Tohidlou, a 32-year-old female sociology PhD student, recently received 50 lashes in prison for having “insulted” you by campaigning for Mousavi in 2009. Do you believe that men lashing women for their political views is an appropriate form of punishment?
  • You said last September that “freedom is a divine right.” Does that apply to Iran’s Bahais, who are persecuted for practicing their faith, discriminated against in the workplace andimprisoned for attempting to educate their youth, who have been barred from university?
  • In March you claimed that Iran is “the best example for asserting human rights in the world.” So why has your government refused to allow the U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, to visit your country and investigate allegations of human rights violations?
  • In a BBC survey of 27 countries, including non-Western nations such as China, Nigeria and the Philippines, Iran ranks as “the most negatively viewed of all countries rated,” even below North Korea, with just a 16 percent favorability rating. Why?
  • Nongovernmental organizations, including Transparency International, Freedom House and the World Bank, have said that Iran’s rates of corruption, economic malaise and repression during your tenure are higher than those of Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s Tunisia. Are you confident you won’t share their fate? During your presidency Iran has had the highest per capita execution rate in the world, including recent public executions and executions of people accused of being homosexual. Are you proud of this record?
  • Ali Vakili Rad, who was convicted by the French in 1991 for the brutal stabbing death of 77-year-old Iranian democracy activist Shapour Bakhtiar in Paris, was given an official hero’s welcome at the Tehran airport upon his release from prison last year. Why does your government glorify assassins?

A year earlier, in 2010, Sadjadpur had again questioned Ahamadinejad about Iran's human rights abuses--this time in the Wall Street Journal, including:

  • According to human-rights organizations including Amnesty International, executions have increased four-fold since you became president in 2005, and Iran now executes more people per capita than any other country in the world. Iran also lifted its moratorium on stoning since you became president. And according to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is now the world's "biggest prison for journalists." Do you take pride in your record?
  • The prominent human-rights activist Mehrangiz Kar has reported that last August five young men in the city of Hamadan had their hands chopped off as a punishment for theft. Do you agree with such a draconian punishment?
  • Two days after the June 12, 2009, presidential election, you declared that Iran is "the most stable country in the world." But the next day nearly three million people, according to the mayor of Tehran, took to the streets to protest the election results. Given your confidence in your popular support, would you grant the opposition a permit to protest, and would you guarantee their safety?
  • According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran has one of the highest rates of brain drain in the world, with as many as 100,000 people leaving annually in search of greater economic dignity and political freedom. Economists estimate that the brain drain has accelerated during your presidency. How much does it bother you that many of Iran's top minds are forced to reside abroad?

While the inclusion of Iran in NAM--not to mention the fact that Iran will be heading their next get-together--undercuts any pretense the group may have to being taken seriously, the fact remains that there are a lot of countries out there who have no problem hanging out with Iran.

And when that meeting begins next week, that will put the ball right back in Obama's court: just how seriously is Israel supposed to entrust its security to the Obama administration's talks and sanctions?
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