Ray Takeyh is right on the money when he reminds us what we should expect from Hassan Rohani before we go around calling him “a reformer”:
Rouhani’s attempt to refashion Iran’s image and temper its rhetoric should be welcomed. After eight years of Ahmadinejad provocations that often unhinged the international community, a degree of self-restraint is admirable. However, judge Tehran by its conduct and not its words.
It is not enough for Rouhani to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Is he prepared to withdraw the Revolutionary Guard contingents that have done much to buttress Assad’s brutality?
It is not sufficient for Rouhani to speak of transparency; he must curb Iran’s troublesome nuclear activities and comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
And it is not enough for Rouhani to speak of a tolerant society unless he is prepared to free his many former comrades and colleagues who are languishing in prisons under false charges.
Rouhani’s reliability has to be measured by his actions, not by his speeches or tweets.
There are many out there who are willing to believe that Rohani is a reformer based solely on cosmetic gestures and somewhat more mild rhetoric–especially when compared to Ahmadinejad. These people might very well be setting themselves up for a major disappointment.