The enthusiastic media response to the election of the “moderate” and “reformist” Hassan Rouhani is reminiscent of the unrealistic drivel which greeted the “Arab Spring”. Indeed, there was perhaps greater justification for the misplaced optimism over the downfall of despotic Arab leaders than in the election of this Mullah, one of eight candidates approved by Ayatollah Khamenei from a pool of 686.
While Rouhani is far more sophisticated than his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (a Holocaust denier who continuously called for Israel to be wiped off the map), he is no moderate. In the past he sought to cover up Iranian nuclear development, and during the recent elections reiterated that he remains adamantly committed to Iran’s nuclear project. In 1999 he supported the brutal suppression of the Iranian student protest. As a member of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, he was also fully au fait with Iranian global terrorist attacks including the 1994 bombing at the Buenos Aires Jewish community center (AMIA) which killed 85 and injured hundreds of others. Rouhani still unhesitatingly refers to Israel as the “little Satan”.
There are, in fact grounds for believing that Rouhani was the Ayatollah’s preferred candidate, on the grounds that his appearance of moderation could ease Western sanctions and reduce the threat of military action.
Besides, there is no doubt that the Ayatollah will continue to call the shots on this and all major policy issues. In 1997 Muhammad Khatami’s election on a reformist program was greeted as a turning point by the West, but merely resulted in stylistic changes, whilst the basic policies and structure of the radical Islamic regime remained unchanged.
Western leaders are already falling for the ploy: White House chief of staff Dennis McDonough referred to Rouhani’s alleged “moderation” as “a potentially hopeful sign” and EU foreign policy spokesman, Catherine Ashton, suggested that the president- elect who would not be taking office until August, be granted time to appoint new negotiators.
President Obama and other Western leaders, reluctant to resort to military action to prevent the Iranians from becoming a nuclear power, will likely use Rouhani’s cosmetic moderation to justify indefinite “ongoing negotiations”.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the international community “not to become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program”, urging that Iran be judged by its actions and, if it continued to develop its nuclear program, that it be stopped by “any means”.
But, as we witnessed during the “Arab spring”, a thin line divides naive optimism from delusion when the West grasps at straws to convince itself that Islamic fanaticism can be managed diplomatically.
Whilst Israelis have now largely accepted the true nature of Islamic extremism, the Western world remains largely in denial. This is highlighted by the ongoing chant that “Islam is a religion of peace”.
All religions, including Christianity and Judaism, include texts which can be interpreted to justify violence and intolerance. However, while many, if not the majority, of Moslems seek to live in peace, today it is the Islamists who are empowered, and are imposing their fanaticism, intolerance and violence, on their own people and seeking to do likewise to those in the West.
There is no difference between extremist Shiite and Sunni millennial ideologies committed to violent global conquest. Their leaders all loathe the West, are pathologically anti-Semitic, and yearn for the global imposition of sharia law. Most Westerners fail to internalize that these concepts represent the core values of the jihadi movement.
Although overall, the region is like a scorpions den in which Islamic fundamentalists reign supreme or are becoming stronger, there are variations. States with residual secular roots are less burdened with oppressive regimes. Thus Turkey, is currently less oppressive than Iran, Saudi Arabia or Egypt despite Recep Erdogan’s vicious anti-Israeli rhetoric designed to foster popularity in the Arab world. Some describe his regime as Moslem Brotherhood “light”. Nevertheless, Erdogan’s regime is becoming increasingly authoritarian, as evidenced by the recent brutal suppression of demonstrations, and that Turkey has proportionately more journalists in jail than any other country.
Unfortunately, the West and the US administration in particular, continue to pursue a disastrous policy of appeasing the Islamists. Since Obama’s Cairo speech, his abandonment of Mubarak “to promote democracy”, and his outreach to Iran and rogue states, it has all been downhill.
Middle East specialist Barry Rubin even accuses the US of entering into an alliance with the Moslem Brotherhood – in all its pristine evil. Yet American liberals bury their heads in the sand, characterize Islamic fundamentalist leaders as “moderates”, and ignore the evil anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic ideological foundations upon which the Islamist regimes are built.
Hamas is a direct offshoot of this poisonous network. President Morsi is strengthening the Brotherhood’s control of Egypt and, despite the huge financial support he receives from the US, responds contemptuously to American concerns about increased human rights abuses. Tunisia’s “Arab Spring” has led to intensified repression.US intervention on behalf of the anti-Qaddafi rebels in Libya culminated in the murder of its ambassador. Yemen is a breeding ground for Al Qaeda, and in Afghanistan, the US is engaging in direct negotiations with the murderous Taliban!
The long-standing bipartisan love affair between US and Saudi Arabia has enabled the global export of Wahhabi ideology, resulting in the emergence of clusters of Islamic fundamentalists and even homegrown terrorists throughout the Western world. Yet exposure of wealthy Saudi Arabians exporting jihad is kept off the radar.
Of course, Syria represents the ultimate abomination where the obscene bestiality of Islamist barbarians is displayed in the atrocities perpetrated by Assad and the Shiites, backed by Iran and Hezbollah as well as the Sunnis supported by the Saudis, Moslem Brotherhood factions and other extremists, including offshoots of Al Qaeda.
Until now, the US seems undecided whether to stand aside and enable the Iranian backed Assad regime, which only two years ago it considered a potential ally, to annihilate its enemies or to provide military support to Sunnis which include terrorist bodies like Al Qaeda that are likely to turn these weapons against the West. In the meantime 100,000 Syrians have been butchered and if the conflict continues, many more will be killed in ethnic massacres.
In this constellation, if Iran becomes a nuclear power, it will either completely dominate the region or ignite a wild race amongst these unstable Islamic countries to also achieve nuclear status.
We invite disaster if we succumb to Iran’s timetable by remaining inactive following the election of a president who follows instructions from the bitterly fanatical Ayatollah Khamenei, who has never responded positively to any diplomatic overture.
It is no exaggeration to state that this situation impacts on the future of Western civilization. We in Israel are at the frontline. Our role must be to persuade the world that confronting Iranian and Islamic fundamentalism is not merely an Israeli problem.
The challenge facing the West is no less critical than the battles fought to prevent Nazism and communism from achieving global domination. Democracies led by the US must devise a realistic strategy including the option of employing force in order to deter terror and efforts to undermine our social and democratic order.
This is no time for “hoping for the best” It is a time for facing reality.
The writer’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com.
He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom