Iran Is Not a Theocracy. It Is a Theocratic Mafiocracy.

To wit: The 82-year-old Iranian woman keeps the documents that upended her life in an old suitcase near her bed. She removes them carefully and peers at the tiny Persian script. There's the court order authorizing the takeover of her children's three Tehran apartments in a multi-story building the family had owned for years. There's …

What Iranian “Reformers” Hath Wrought

Presumably, this is what we are supposed to expect from a government that allegedly is more enlightened than it used to be: At least 80 people and perhaps as many as 95 have been executed in Iran already this year, a surge in the use of the death penalty that has dampened hopes for human rights reforms under …

Reform Cannot Come Fast Enough to Iran

I'm sure that Iranians will be the first to tell you as much: In a rare expression of regret by an Iranian official, President Hassan Rouhani has said that he is sorry for any troubles with the distribution of a food ration to the poor, following reports that three people have died waiting for the goods in …

Deeds. Not Words. Deeds.

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 …

Very Interesting–and Ultimately Irrelevant–Facts about Ali Khamene’i

I will freely admit to finding Akbar Ganji's article about Iran's supreme leader fascinating--especially excerpts like this one: As a young man, Khamenei loved novels. He read such Iranian writers as Muhammad Ali Jamalzadah, Sadeq Chubak, and Sadeq Hedayat but came to feel that they paled before classic Western writers from France, Russia, and the United …

Hassan Rohani May Disappoint Us Yet

My latest for the Atlantic Council discusses whether Hassan Rohani will prove himself a genuine reformer. On that issue, I have my doubts: The Islamic Republic of Iran has a new president: Hassan Rouhani. There has been a lot of talk about Rouhani’s supposed political moderation and pragmatism, just as in 1982, there was talk …

The Iranian Presidential Elections: What Next?

Despite my disbelief  that Iran's theocrats would allow a perceived moderate to win the Iranian presidential election, a perceived moderate has gone ahead and done just that. It would appear that the turnout for the election was so significant and the votes for Hassan Rohani so overwhelming that the regime could not afford to implement …

Surprising–and Unsurprising–News from the First Round of Iran’s Presidential Election

First, the surprising news: The leading moderate candidate for the presidency has emerged as the strongest of all of the candidates after the first round of voting: Early results from Iran's presidential election put the reformist-backed candidate, Hassan Rouhani, in the lead.With 2.9m ballots counted, the cleric had 1.46m votes, or 49.87%, well ahead of Tehran …

The State of Play Leading Up to the Iranian Presidential Election

As noted before, the notion that there is anything resembling democracy in Iran is nothing short of laughable. More can be found here on how the election has quickly turned into a farce. The BBC informs us--in what is, perhaps, the understatement of the year--that "[b]y the standards of democratic countries, presidential elections in Iran are …