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Is rehabilitation of the current regime in Iran possible?

Since the mid-1990s, some international parties have been attempting to rehabilitate the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran to make a political system with which international coexistence and adaptation is possible. These attempts have been energized by the increased number of voices from within Iran calling for reform and moderation.

Those who hope for substantial reform in Iran primarily seek to prevent another devastating war in the region, and believe that it is possible to solve the pending problems between Tehran and the Middle East region through the rehabilitation of the regime, as well as by limiting the extent of religious extremism prevailing in Iran’s government. However, the eight-year rule of former president Mohamed Khatemi saw an offering of redemption to the People’s Mojahedin Organization Of Iran that was a death knell for significant regime reform. This experience did not yield any positive outcome for the West, but Tehran made imporant gains, notably by suggesting to the Iranian people that the international community does not recognize the presence of opposition in Iran, and therefore does not support its struggle for freedom and democracy. Yet what is more important and more dangerous than this charged rhetoric is that an intensive focus was placed on the nuclear program throughout the Khateni era, as was later revealed by the Iranian resistance.

Although the West has come out of the experience with Khatemi empty-handed, its key players reiterate the same message in the era of the president Hasan Rouhani, president since 2013. The era of Rouhani, who also claimed that he is a reformist and moderate, was crowned by Iran’s signing of multilateral agreements to end its nuclear program in 2015. Yet the most important mark of this era is the violations of human rights and particularly women’s rights, as well as the unprecedented increase in the death sentencing that reached a level unseen in Iran for more that ten years. These abuses of power and human rights violations have exceeded those that occurred during the rule of Rouhani’s hardliner predecessor Ahmadinejad; these facts alone call for serious reflection.

Some of Iran’s citizens placed their confidence in Rouhani, believing he would follow a more open and moderate policy towards other countries in the Middle East. But the number of Iranian military interventions in the the region reached a record high during his rule. In fact, after expanding Iran’s involvement in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, Yemen was added to the list of countries that are under the influence of Iran. This regional aggression urged other Middle Eastern countries to stand against Iran, whose actions had become intolerable. Those who bet on the “moderation”, “reform” and “openness” of Rouhani have witnessed all these negative occurrences that unveiled the truth that the rule of Rouhani is, if not worse than the former regimes, certainly not at all better than them.

Rouhani’s rhetoric of reform and moderation have become something of a dull joke that inspires not laughter but revulsion. This is particularly true after recent elections, which were also relied on after what all have been said about it as the obvious victory of the wing Rafsanjani-Rouhani. However the outcome was the nomination of the hardliner religious Ahmad Jannati a president of the assembly of experts, while the rule of the hardliner Larijani was extended to another year, like nothing has happened and everything remained the same. The question arises strongly: Is it really possible to rehabilitate this regime?

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