(photo credit: REUTERS)
This week saw one of the most hypocritical diplomatic events in history. Iran convened an international conference termed “World Against Violence and Extremism” (WAVE), in continuation of an initiative announced by President Hassan Rouhani in his speech to the UN General Assembly on September 25, 2013.
According to Iranian sources (IRNA), the conference gathered 40 scholars and experts from around the globe. Among high-ranking officials who participated at this preposterous gathering we find the foreign ministers of Syria, Iraq, and Nicaragua. To the credit of the EU and like-minded countries, they steered away from this outlandish forum, except for some former high-ranking leaders (former Norwegian prime minister Kjell Magne Bondevick, former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin) who are clearly seeking lost fame and try to find it in infamous gatherings.
At the gathering, Rouhani raised the suggestion that “countries that have helped formation of terrorism through organizing it and providing financial aid should explicitly announce their hatred of terrorism and stop direct or indirect funding of the groups.”
Ali Bakeer, a Middle East and international relations researcher, tweeted in reference to the gathering: “The silly joke of the century.” How right he is.
The same Iran that is designated as a global state sponsor of terrorism, that finances terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Quds, and others, that tries to smuggle arms to terrorist groups in violation of Security Council resolutions (1701, 1747) and is deeply involved in regional subversive activity preaches to others about the cessation of support for terrorism and violence.
Over the past few years, Iran has been involved in more than 30 terrorist attempts or attacks on innocent civilians by its proxy groups Hezbollah and/or Al-Quds forces.
Only this week, Iran hosted a delegation of the designated terrorist organization Hamas and pledged its renewed support, in light also of the calls by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to expand violence from Gaza to the West Bank. Iran boasts of its support of designated terrorist organizations.
Perhaps Iran should start implementing its call by reprimanding itself and declaring its cessation of direct or indirect financial and other support to terrorist organizations.
That would be a good start.
This is just another classic manifestation of the charm offensive, double talk, and hypocrisy of the current Iranian regime. Unfortunately, many countries, perhaps for economic or political interests, cast a blind eye and buy into this pretense.
Some countries talk about Iran as a possible partner and positive element, especially in the context of the fight against Islamic State. Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman, in his article “Chess Moves to Transform World Politics,” termed this viewpoint the “Mad Mullah Gambit”, and rightfully so.
It may be true that Iran and the Western world have a narrow meeting of interests in the fight against Islamic State. But one cannot ignore the fact that behind the scenes there is a vast clash of interests and ideology on a wide range of issues, from Iranian support of the Assad regime, to its support of global terrorism and instilling of unrest in the entire Middle East.
Iran’s deep meddling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and other sensitive spots proves to all that Iran is not a positive element, but a propagator of instability and violence. Iran cannot be a legitimate partner to anything while it continues its global negative activity.
Justifying Iran as a partner in the fight against Islamic State can be compared to justifying cooperation with and legitimizing the regimes of Stalin or Hitler.
No strategic change has taken place in Iran – it is all tactical. The writing is on the wall and we just need to read and listen carefully. While in English the Iranians circulate a message of engagement with the West, the supreme leader states in Persian that the jihad will continue till America no longer exists.
The call for legitimizing Iran while it continues on its dark path of destruction and devastation, seeking nuclear military capability, is dangerous. It weakens the moderate forces and emboldens the radical ones.
The writer holds a PhD in Jewish history and serves in the Strategic Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.