Iran Emboldened: New Fighter Jets, Executions, Reaffirmed Support for Assad

Iran is set to receive its first batch of oil money from a $4.2 billion pot this week, according to its chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi. 

The funds, thought to be around $550 million, are due to be deposited in a Swiss bank account, Araqchi told the Islamic Republic News Agency. "As far as I know, all necessary measures have been taken and transfers are under way," he said.

The news is quite evidently nothing to celebrate, and the capitulation by the U.S. State Department and the European Union towards Hassan Rouhani and his country's nuclear ambitions is already heralding a new era of Iranian fortitude. 

This weekend, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, issued fresh support for the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, stating that it would be an "illusion" to think that the Syrian civil war could be settled without the current president. Zarif blamed opposition groups for the ongoing bloodbath in the country and stated, "The illusion that one could find a solution on Assad over, must be buried at last."

Clearly the West's concessions towards Iran are not heralding the new era of co-operation that some naive statesmen expected.  

Dr. Alan Mendoza, of the UK-based Henry Jackson Society think tank, told me, "Negotiations with Iran have been a one-sided process thus far - the international community gives, and Iran takes. Iran is getting sanctions relief while continuing terrorist-supporting activities, and nothing more than a temporary freeze to its nuclear plans. And once a sanctions regime is broken, it is very difficult to fix again."

Meanwhile, Press TV, Iran's state-funded propaganda outlet, has reported that the country has developed "a new generation of jet fighters designed and developed by local experts". While the outlet is known for its spurious reporting, it betrays a new level of bravado on behalf of the Iranian regime, which states that its defense doctrine is "merely based on deterrence". 

The news will come as no surprise to countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, which have both publicly and privately issued warnings over Iran's military capabilities in recent years. That Iran is seeking to bolster its aerial might lends to the notion that an Israeli-led raid on its nuclear facilities is the nation's top defense concern.

Also, there is the fact that state executions of anti-regime activists have actually increased, rather than decreased, under the supposedly "moderate" leadership of Hassan Rouhani. 

Last year the Washington Free Beacon reported that under Rouhani executions spiked, and Iranian activists Payam Akhavan and Shirin Ebadi told the Washington Post that, “Under the shadow of negotiations... Iran’s appalling human rights situation has hardly changed."

Just a few days ago, the Iranian-Arab poet Hashem Shaabani and the human rights activist Hadi Rashedi were executed for "enmity against God". 

These hangings were ordered by Rouhani, who may be targeting the Arab-speaking Ahwazi population in the southwest of Iran. Regional expert Benjamin Weinthal has written that Rouhani is presiding over an "execution spree", and United Nations experts have reported that "at least 40 persons have been reportedly hanged in the first two weeks of January". 

So the Iranian regime is now set to receive previously untouchable funds, bolstering its previously precarious economic situation. The Iranian military flexes the muscles it wants us to believe it has. And all the while, hundreds of anti-regime activists and minorities are being mercilessly targeted and executed.


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