Executions and backlash loom over Iran rapprochement

Money is flowing into Iran again, but there are signs the reformist movement is being stymied by hardliners, including a dramatic upsurge in executions for “enmity against God” and “threatening national security.”  An excerpt of international affairs columnist Jonathan Manthorpe’s new column:

As Iran this week received $550 million from eased sanctions in return for curbing its nuclear program, it is evident that resistance is stiffening among hardliners in Tehran to rapprochement with the international community.

At its core, this apprehension appears to be fear that any restrictions on Iran’s ability to make nuclear weapons or slackening of its defensive posture against the outside world will bring down the Islamic regime of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which has ruled the country since 1979.

The target of the hardliners, who may include Khamenei himself, is President Hassan Rouhani, who won managed elections last year and who is usually described as a reformist.

It was initiatives by Rouhani in the first months of his tenure, including a ground-breaking telephone conversation with United States President Barack Obama, which led to a framework agreement in November on Iran’s nuclear development program.

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