Those who hoped that the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 nations and Iran would moderate Tehran and lead to rapprochement with the West have recently been “jolted with a series of increasingly rude awakenings,” including a rise in anti-American activity and a crackdown on rights, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, said the “Death to America” slogan is eternal. New anti-American billboards in Tehran include a mockery of the Iwo Jima flag-raising photograph that symbolized Marine sacrifice in World War II. And an Iranian knockoff version of K.F.C., the chicken chain widely associated with the United States, was summarily closed after two days.
“It feels like a witch hunt,” said one Iranian-American businessman in Tehran, who dared not speak for attribution over fear for his safety. “It’s pretty scary.”
The climate of fear has been magnified by the recently announced arrests of Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi and Lebanese-born U.S. resident Nizar Zakka by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
As part of the crackdown, the IRGC also arrested five prominent Iranians, including journalists. “State-sanctioned media have been busy producing a litany of American conspiracy theories,” the Times added. “Iran’s Press TV website even published an article on Tuesday raising the possibility that the C.I.A. was responsible for downing a Russian jetliner in Egypt over the weekend. Iranian news has also given prominent mention to the “network of American and British spies” rounded up by the Guards’s agents.”
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Iranian actress Sadaf Taherian was forced to flee the country after she posted pictures of herself on social media with her hair uncovered. Last week, two Iranian poets were sentenced to jail and 99 lashes each for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex.
Shortly after the nuclear deal was signed, Lee Smith, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, warned that the agreement would strengthen the IRGC’s hold over Iran.
[Photo: CNN / YouTube ]