Sanctions relief, according to supporters of the current negotiating strategy with Iran, empowers the pragmatic and allegedly moderate camp in Tehran, which in turn paves the path for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, notes Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
“President Hassan Rouhani, according to this line of reasoning, needed Western concessions to politically marginalize and economically weaken the hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC),” he writes. “However, recent reports depict a very different picture: The IRGC, rather than the pragmatist and allegedly moderate Rouhani cabinet, seems to be the main beneficiary of Iran sanctions relief.”
Representatives of human rights and civil society groups recently wrote to Rouhani to urge Iran” to take steps to open, full, and effective cooperation with the United Nations Special Procedures, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Iran’s failure to permit and facilitate such visits undermines Iran’s responsibility to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms, they wrote:
This violates its treaty obligations and casts a shadow over statements that you and members of your government have made since you assumed office in 2013 expressing a desire to improve human rights conditions in Iran. If the Iranian government is serious in that intention, it should immediately stop discrediting the work of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and approve the requests for visits by Special Procedures that are still outstanding. It should move quickly to agree to arrangements for visits or joint-visits by these Special Procedures and provide all appropriate facilitation.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei cannot afford to alienate the IRGC, Alfoneh contends.
“He has forced President Rouhani and other critics of the Guards to share in Iran’s windfall,” he suggests. “This likely explains why the IRGC is now tolerating the nuclear negotiations. In the long term, however, a cash-flush IRGC could serve as the power center that would prevent Tehran from delivering upon its promises once a nuclear deal is reached.”
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Find him on Twitter @Alfoneh