Who Is Hassan Rouhani?
Who is Hassan Rouhani? We know who the new Iranian leader is not. He is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose bluster and fiery rhetoric was direct reflection of this antagonistic approach to relations with the UN and the international community. He is a prolific writer, who has authored at least ten books and forty academic articles. And he has been seen as a “reformer” by some within the foreign policy establishment in Washington.
Rouhani’s outreach, however, has its limits, as was demonstrated by his refusal to meet with President Barack Obama during his visit to the UN fearing domestic blowback.
“Taken with Rouhani’s decision not to meet Obama on the sidelines of the U.N. meeting Tuesday, the address appeared to show the limits of the new Iranian charm offensive. U.S. officials said Iranian officials declined to arrange a handshake or other informal meeting between the two leaders because doing so would be “too complicated” for Rouhani at home,” reports Ann Gearan of The Washington Post.
Steven Ditto of The Washington Institute says his primary identity is as “defender of the Islamic Revolution,” a leader focused on healing an economy hobbled by international sanctions.
Ditto says it is important to look beyond any single speech to get a grasp of who Rouhani is and, more importantly, where he might take Iran.
“Understanding Rouhani’s personal beliefs and the context of his rhetoric is more important than poring over the content of any one UN speech. The perception of positive signals in his recent rhetoric has raised the international community’s expectations and given hopes for a new era in relations with Iran. Yet it is important to bear in mind his longstanding, deep commitment to the regime’s objectives,” he writes.
Conversely, Kenneth Pollack argues that the West and the UN must confront the reality that to achieve any deal with Iran, the regime must be allowed to maintain some nuclear capacity.
“What may be harder for many Americans and other Westerners to accept is that, as part of any negotiated resolution, Iran is going to have to be allowed to retain the ability to enrich uranium and to have a limited program to do so. That means that Iran will always have some residual capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons. There is no good reason why Tehran should need this capability, but it has become a matter of national pride for the Iranians,” he says in a New Republic article outlining the fundamentals of a potential agreement.
Does The Attack On The Kenyan Mall Mean Africa Is Not Rising?
There have been many stories chronicling the economic growth occurring in Africa in the last few years. Reports from development groups and international organizations have pointed to a positive trend that indicates Africa is on the rise after decades of floundering. But John Campbell suggests in The Atlantic that the attack on the Kenyan mall exposes these reports as not accurate.
“Perceptions of apparent progress in Somalia may be seriously compromised by the Nairobi attack. The Nairobi attack marks the continuation of a disturbing trend in a growing number of countries and regions in northern and sub-Saharan Africa,” he writes, adding that the credibility of that “narrative remains will be clarified over the coming months, especially given chronic political and social issues yet to be resolved.