Iran, Mourning A Moderate, Continues Antagonism
Iranian former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani passed away Sunday. He was representative of a political vangaurd, having helped establish the Islamic republic in 1979. Being associated with a more moderate sector of Iranian politics, his legacy will likely be helmed by his bold claim that Iran’s future lay in negotiations, not missles. He is also credited with attempting to remove the infamous call of “Death to America” from Iranian public prayer. Yet, his career was still mired in controversy. Argentina and Germany had both accused Rafsanjani of playing a role in ordering attacks against Jews and dissidents. Even with another moderate president in power currently, Iran has yet to concretely change its stripes.
On the same day as Rafsanjani’s death, the USS Mahan fired warning shots at four Iranian vessels in the Strait of Hormuz. The vessels, which began a speedy approach toward the Mahan, were under the control of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. That group declined the Navy’s request that its vessels cease or alter course. Waters close to Iran have become sites of contention between Iran and America. August of last year saw another Navy ship firing warning shots at the Iranians, and last January, Iran detained four Naval officers. These actions, combined with the consequences of the nuclear deal, render future policy making exteremely difficult.
Rafasanjani’s funeral featured protests by opposition to various elements of Iranian policy. From the detention of political opponents, to the house arrest of former prime minister Mir Mousavi, it is clear that much of Iran’s human rights record has little to do with the West. The funeral protests, allowed to continue, still faced censorship on State television. It may well be that Iran’s destiny has already been plotted out at the highest levels. Will the people accept promises from those who must answer to the Ayatollah? Or, as was seen in 2009, will mild outrage boil over?
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