Iran is still rife with suppression of human rights, abuses of individual freedom and summary executions a year after the election of so-called 'moderate' President Hassan Rouhani a year ago, Britain's Lord Carlile has said in a article published in PoliticsHome.
The Liberal Democrat peer said the West would be 'naive' to assume there had been any change for the better in the theocratic regime, whose oppressive policies have not changed in 35 year.
Lord Carlile said: "A range of politicians and analysts have recently argued for close cooperation between the United States and Iran on issues such as the sectarian conflict in Iraq. The view is irresponsibly neglectful of the dangers still posed by the Iranian regime.
"But with Rouhani having held the position of president for one year as of this week, it is time for that narrative to be abandoned.
"It is time that it be recognized for what it was: wishful thinking based on Western hopes for a popular upsurge of democracy in the Middle East.
"It was naïve to think that the regime of the mullahs would stand aside and hand over the presidency to someone who would contravene their interests by embracing even a portion of the people’s desire for change.
"Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the Council of Experts would not do this, and they did not. The first year of Rouhani’s presidency has proven that. The repressive policies that have defined the last 35 years of the Islamic Republic continue as does the disappointment of the Iranian people, who have seen none of Rouhani’s charmingly moderate campaign promises fulfilled."
There had also been a marked increase in the number of executions since Rouhani came to power, Lord Carlile said.
He added: "Many of these executions have had recognizably political motivations, as with the hasty and secretive execution on June 1 of Gholamreza Khosravi, a 47-year-old activist charged with “enmity against God” because of his support for the People Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK), the principal Iranian resistance group.
"The same group has been attacked outside of Iran’s borders in incidents that testify to the persistent Iranian desire for regional hegemony. The Rouhani government has strongly influenced Nouri al-Maliki’s exclusionary Shiite government in Iraq, especially in light of the sectarian crisis that precipitated Maliki’s consolidation of power. That influence has allowed Iran to launch proxy attacks against the MEK community living in exile at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty.
"Increased press freedom was perhaps one of the most common expectations of change after Rouhani’s presidential campaign, but the situation has, if anything, grown worse.
"The high-profile arrest of Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian ought to leave no room for doubt among Western observers that Iran under Rouhani is still a dangerously repressive landscape.
"In July eight Facebook users were sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years for purportedly insulting Islam and state officials.
"All of this paints a rather clear picture of a 'new' Iran that is largely characterized by business-as-usual.
"What Iran and Rouhani do at home is relevant to what they do abroad. Iran’s continued support for Bashar al-Assad and Nouri al-Maliki, and its advocacy for an expansion of the fighting in Palestine might be more surprising if the Rouhani administration was defined by the moderation that so many people assumed it would be.
"As it is, these foreign policies are perfectly predictable. They are the same sorts of policies that the Islamic Republic would have pursued under Ahmedinejad and earlier. Other Iranian actions, including their follow-through on the nuclear issue, could be equally predictable. But to draw sound conclusions on these topics, we have to recognize what Rouhani’s Iran looks like from the inside, and judge his presidency accordingly."