Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


The President Ignores Human Rights in Iran–Again

by Elliott Abrams
March 20, 2014


Yesterday President Obama delivered his “Nowruz” message to Iran, on the occasion of that annual holiday. From the human rights perspective it is an appalling message. Ostensibly a message not just to Iran’s rulers but to its people, it lauds last year’s election of Rouhani as if that had been a democratic election and he the free choice of Iranians. The President makes one reference to the miserable human rights conditions in Iran, when he says “A comprehensive agreement on the nuclear issue—and an Iran that upholds universal rights, at home and abroad—would help move Iran along the new path that so many Iranians seek.” It isn’t even clear in this formulation –and may not be clear to Iranians– whether he is referring to universal rights related to nuclear energy or to human rights protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other documents. Once again, he refuses to use the term “human rights” when those are the precious rights Iranians seek, deserve, and are denied by the regime.

The Nowruz message is focused entirely on the nuclear negotiations and will convey to Iranians that that’s pretty much all the President cares about. Their own rights are not much of a consideration. And of course the message will convey to others in the region, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, that their fears are justified: if Iran will do a nuclear deal, all other considerations– for example, Iran’s support of terror, its IRGC troops in Syria, and its subversion of neighbors– will not get much attention from the Obama administration.

But Iran will be a danger for the United States so long as it is ruled by the current combination of theocrats, extremists, terrorists, and Revolutionary Guards. And its people will have their fundamental human rights denied by the same rulers. If the Iranian people were waiting to hear a message of solidarity that acknowledges their desire for freedom and their struggle for human rights, they will have found Mr. Obama as cold as he was when they rose up in June 2009.

Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by Jassem Othman

    President Obama and his defeatist administration are not fond of the phrases “neither human rights, nor the war on terrorism” even they do not want to embrace the support of the freedom and democracy revolutions in the heartlands of the USA enemies whom today seeking to destroy that Great country. All the things Mr. Obama has done it just to destroy that Great country and its Great values, where he is acting like a dictator and he cannot take criticism or consider the other side’s recommendations. In reality, the United States is today a target of a real Global War, from Moscow to Tehran and Damascus, and from Pyongyang to Beijing and Caracas, and after all, there is NO any care, nor attention by president Obama and his executive branch about the massive wave on the Globe that would be caused by those Evil countries!!!”

  • Posted by Jassem Othman

    I meant “the massive wave of Evil on the Globe”. sorry.

  • Posted by Sheila Novitz

    One tries to see into Obama’s mind: Is he a coward? Is this because his father was an outspoken bully (see Obama’s “Dreams from my Father”), and he would rather be anything but that? Is it because his background is Islamic, and he genuinely cannot bring himself to be as determined and hard with Islamic countries as he needs to be? I hear him refer to “The Holy Koran” – has he READ it? It is so filled with evil and violence that one cannot believe it is understood by any ordinary Muslim. I cannot think that he has read it and can still refer to it as “holy”; or else he is simply the world’s greatest hypocrite.

    But of course it isn’t just up to Obama; it’s also up to his advisers, minders, consultants, etc., etc. Either he is driving them crazy with his weak and contemptible presidency, or they concur in his obsession with what he calls “dialogue” and in his ridiculous stance on Islamist behaviours Or is it simply a futile obsession with the personal legacy he hopes to leave as the USA’s First Black President?

    It is true, or comes across as true, that he is cold, self-obsessed, very conscious of his gorgeous smile and of how to look interested and interesting. None of this makes for a fine “Leader of the Free World” or, more importantly, for a person who wishes genuinely to help the billions of oppressed and suffering people worldwide. “Talking nice” didn’t help in Libya, didn’t help in Egypt, didn’t help in Syria, doesn’t help with Iran. And threatening Putin – well, everyone is laughing at him, especially Mr Putin.

    Almost everything President Obama says and does nowadays seems empty and meaningless. One wishes he would just GO.

  • Posted by ah

    Sheila – Have YOU read the Koran? If you have, then you would know it is no more or less violent than the Jewish or Christian Bible. The Christian Old Testament is filled with violence. You are simply projecting your own insecurities here.

    I hope you realist how utterly ridiculous and racist your mutterings make you sound.

  • Posted by Ahhh

    Bravo ah, the never tiring liberal moral relativism that has destroyed America’s golden age. Keep programming that we’re all the same and everyone who says otherwise is racist and let Putin inherit the earth.

    No doubt an Obama voter and that says it all.

  • Posted by ah

    Ahhh, if the extent of your argumentation is resorting to ad hominem attacks irrelevant to the actual argument, you should at least be a bit wittier or more interesting.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required