At Davos, Hassan Rouhani’s Double-talk Undermines Iranian Charm Offensive

Bijan Khajehpour

Do you include all countries? Schwab asked for emphasis. Thats what I said, all the countries, Rouhani said, as applause filled the grand arena, as if we were all witness to a historical event. Then he clarified: countries which we have officially recognized. For the record that list does not include Israel, which is sometimes begrudgingly referred to as the Zionist Entity among those nations intent on its disappearance. I rise not in defense of Israel, which has no shortage of bloodshed and strife to account for, and which has played a leading role in seeking to monkey-wrench the progress toward peace that Rouhanis arrival has made possible. Nor do I type in defense of those Syrian rebel militias that do indeed employ tactics for which the word terrorism is apt. But the Iranian president has bet his legacy on the notion that he brings pragmatism, human concern and above all realism to the work of developing Irans economy, and by forging relations with outside powers. He described his own creed as prudent moderation. Pretending to be open to dealing with anyone while continuing to exclude Israel does not qualify.