During the annual UN General Assembly meeting later this month there will be discussions to secure a final and sustainable nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1 countries, led by the United States. The deadline for a deal is November 24.
"The New York talks will be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly opening, with the US side being led by Under Secretary Wendy Sherman" (Source).
Under the Rouhani administration, the number of arrests of journalists has grown, as well as executions of political prisoners. The most notable among the arrests is Iranian-American journalist and Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian.
Analysts say that President Rouhani has no control over these controversial decisions, and that the hardliners in the regime are wielding their power over Rouhani's head to show them who's boss.
The sad thing is that the hardliners will win if the illegal arrest of Rezaian and other journalists is magnified. Their aim is to discredit Rouhani as a change agent within the Iranian political system and make the United States second guess its diplomatic outreach.
Any media focus on Rezaiain's illegal arrest and the arrest of other journalists by certain segments of the Islamic Republic at the upcoming UN General Assembly meeting will only serve as a distraction to the important negotiations over a final nuclear deal, and help to give the hardliners what they want, which is a complete cessation of the talks.
1. An excerpt from, "Iran’s president dodges question on held reporter" AP, August 30, 2014:
Rezaian, 38, and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the Abu Dhabi-based daily newspaper The National, have been held for more than a month. They were detained with two photojournalists who were later released.2. An excerpt from, "Why Is Iran Detaining Jason Rezaian?" by Laura Secor, The New Yorker, August 15, 2014:
When asked about Rezaian’s detention, Rouhani said: “In our country, there is not a united viewpoint. There are different viewpoints. Institutes and organs have tasks that they carry some actions in their framework.”
It wasn’t clear which part of the question Rouhani was responding to.
Iranian officials have not specifically said why Rezaian and his wife were detained.
President Rouhani does not bear direct responsibility for the recent wave of arrests, which has swept up a noticeable number of female journalists from the local press. The prerogative to arrest, detain, and charge domestic journalists like Azarpeik lies with the Iranian judiciary, which is dominated by hard-line clerics and which answers to the Supreme Leader. The judiciary does not answer to the elected government; it has been known in the past, as well as now, to actively oppose it. When the reformist President Mohammad Khatami attempted to ease restrictions on the country’s press in the period from 1997 to 2004, journalists associated with his own faction faced prison terms and outlandish charges; newspapers run by the President’s allies were banned, one after another. In the final years of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Presidency, the Revolutionary Guard seemed to have stepped into foreign-media space, restricting the movements of foreign correspondents over the heads of the ministries that had licensed and approved them. The President has little more than a bully pulpit from which to push back against such incursions. But Rouhani seems reluctant to use even that.3. An excerpt from, "Why Hassan Rouhani Should Facilitate the Release of Washington Post Reporter" by Omid Memarian, The Huffington Post, August 29, 2014:
The latest interference with the press may well be intended to embarrass him. Rouhani’s pursuit of a nuclear accord with six world powers faces fierce opposition from hard-liners within the Iranian establishment who would be all too happy to see him fail. Now the President is forced to explain to international interlocutors exactly why his country has abducted a law-abiding Washington Post correspondent on what are recognizably trumped-up charges. Don’t think that Rouhani is in charge, his opponents might be saying to foreign powers; in the end you will need to deal with us. (The scholar Haleh Esfandiari made the case for this scenario in an eloquent Op-Ed for the Times.) The attacks on domestic journalists serve a similar purpose at home, signalling to Iranians the limits of Rouhani’s reach and the persistence of the security state.
As a follow up to his diplomatic trip to New York last year, it has been expected that upcoming negotiations would result in significant strides towards resolving the nuclear issue as well as improving Rouhani's image as an influential president for Iran. But given the arrest of Jason Rezaian and Yeganeh Salehi , along with several other prominent journalists, domestic issues will likely become the focal point of his interviews and encounters with the American press during his New York trip, emphasizing his inability to deliver on the commitments he made last year.1. Title: Iran relations thawing with President Rouhani? Source: The Washington Post. Date Published: June 18, 2013.
President Rouhani's current tactic of inaction poses a grave risk to his own political goals both domestically and at the international level, given his lack of authority over organizations under direct supervision of the Supreme Leader, many of whom unabashedly criticize the nuclear negotiations, describing these as "insulting." The president's capacity to enforce a potential nuclear agreement, were it to be reached, has even been brought into question.
2. Title: Scene from "A World Between." Source: Firouzan Films. Date Published: February 23, 2009.
3. Title: Saeed and America. Source: AWorldBetween. Date Published: November 3, 2006. Description:
A scene from "A World Between," a film by Nezam Manouchehri about Jason Rezaian, an Iranian American who travels to Iran in an effort to promote understanding between two nations with a great tension between them.