Rouhani is not a reformist but largely owes his surprise victory in the June presidential election to pro-reform groups who mobilised voters in the hopes that his promises of moderation could bring more social and political freedom and improved economic conditions after eight years of suppression under president Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad….But while the president and his government have the strong support of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader and ultimate decision maker, in foreign policy and nuclear negotiations, they remain unprotected in the tense power struggle with hardliners on domestic issues.
“A complicated power struggle is going on between the government and hardliners in the parliament and the judiciary who are worried about future elections…. and do not want Rouhani to succeed,” said one reform-minded analyst.
Despite the release of some political prisoners, including dissident lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, Rouhani has failed to make progress on human rights, say monitors. Since his government, notes the Boroumand Foundation, executions of criminals and alleged members of rebel groups have reportedly increased.
Mistreatment of Bahais is another aspect of Iran’s abuse of human rights, says Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“There are only 300,000 Bahais in Iran, or less than one-half of 1 percent of the country’s population. But since its founding in 1979, the Islamic Republic has singled this group out for systematic repression,” he writes for The Washington Post:
Rouhani has been no help to Bahais. In his Sept. 19 op-ed in The Post, Rouhani wrote that “we must join hands to constructively work toward national dialogue, whether in Syria or Bahrain. We must create an atmosphere where peoples of the region can decide their own fates.” How about in Iran? The persecution of Bahais gives the lie to his pose as a moderate.