In October, Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian regime’s president, reiterated that Tehran will continue to develop ballistic missiles, defying the latest round of Congress-approved sanctions against Iran’s ballistic missile program and a U.N. resolution calling on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
This bit of news might come as a disappointment to those who view Rouhani as the “moderate” leader the U.S. and the international community should back against “hardliners” in Iran. But it won’t surprise those who know the true nature that governs all the factions that compete within the theocratic regime ruling Iran.
Rouhani made deceptive claims and promises before May's presidential elections to strengthen his bid and portray himself as being at odds with the Revolutionary Guards. The IRGC, the notorious military body that only reports to Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s unelected Supreme Leader, was designated as a terrorist organization by the Trump administration last month.
However, after securing his second mandate, Rouhani retraced his steps and re-established his ties with what he previously called the “government with a gun.” Last month, Rouhani praised the IRGC as the "beloved" of the Iranian people despite the evident fact that it is the main player behind Iran’s terrorist forays, ballistic missile program, and human rights violations.
Rouhani further proved where his loyalties lie when the IRGC orchestrated a widespread campaign of suppression and crackdown against Iranians who wished to congregate on the day that is named after Cyrus the Great, the ancient ruler of the Persian empire.
Last year, thousands attended the ceremony, which takes place at Pasargadae, 500 miles south of Tehran, where Cyrus' tomb is located. Fearing that under the current tense state of the Iranian society, a similar gathering would evolve into mass protests, the IRGC blocked all roads that led to the area. IRGC motorcades and helicopters patrolled the area and threatened to arrest anyone who would try to join the rally.
Rouhani refrained from making the slightest criticism of IRGC’s repressive measures and defend the rights of the Iranian people, as he had pledged to do during this campaign trail. Again, this should not come as surprise from someone who has been part and parcel of the regime since its founding and whose first term as president has been marked by 3,000 executions.
Undaunted by the Guards’ attempt to block the ceremony, Iranians from across the country made their way to the area and found alternate routes to attend the ceremony. This overt defiance of the regime’s apparatus of suppression takes place against the background of a growing trend of social and political protests and a gradual decrease of security forces’ ability in stifling them.
In the declaration of his new strategy toward Iran, President Trump drew a clear line between the Iranian people and the ruling regime. "We stand in total solidarity with the Iranian regime’s longest suffering victims: its own people," he said. "The citizens of Iran have paid a heavy price for the violence and extremism of their leaders. The Iranian people long to, and they just are longing, to reclaim their country's proud history, its culture, its civilization, its cooperation with its neighbors."
According to opposition leader Maryam Rajavi, “The ultimate solution is the overthrow of the regime and establishment of freedom and democracy in Iran by the Iranian people and resistance.”
While proponents of rapprochement with the Iranian regime will continue to hope against hope that some form of moderation will emerge from within the regime, the Iranian people know better than to rely on the hollow promises of duplicitous figures such as Rouhani.
Amir Basiri (@amir_bas) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is an Iranian human rights activist.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.