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ICC Note: During the debates regarding the controversial Iran Nuclear Deal in Washington (called the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” or JCPOA), the Obama Administration and its allies in Congress explained that their “reasoning” for supporting the deal was to advance the democratic government in Iran and provide for more freedoms to Iranian people.  However, the deal – which put millions of dollars back in the pockets of the regime – has done little to nothing to provide for religious freedoms and democratic rule.  Despite President Rouhani’s more democratic policies, the main power in Iran lies with the Ayatollah Khomeini who has continued to spout rhetoric about the destruction of America and imprison and torture Iranian Christians and religious minorities.

3/7/2016 Iran (Washington Institute) – Iranians may want to reform and open up economically, but what’s become clearer since the nuclear deal was signed is that culturally and socially almost nothing has changed. Nor are these, or Iran’s broader policies, likely to anytime soon. The supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, continues to rail against “American influence” and engages in a war of words with the Saudis — and backs the aggressive use of Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to extend Iran’s reach throughout the region. It is Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC Qods Force, not the more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, who shapes and implements Iran’s policies in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and the sudden granting of $7,000 to every Palestinian “martyr.”

True, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action may have strengthened Rouhani politically — or at least made him more popular with the Iranian public. Perhaps, that will mean something over time. For now, however, the key centers of power in Iran have not been weakened. If we truly want to see Rouhani and the more pragmatic constituency in Iran strengthened over time, we need to raise the costs to Iran for its destabilizing and threatening policies in the region — we need to show that what Soleimani is doing around the region is costing Iran and blunting its future development.

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