Here comes another international test for Barack Obama. After making overtures of friendship to Iran and speaking publicly of direct talks and normalizing relations, Tehran has responding by convicting American journalist Roxana Saberi of espionage and sentencing her to eight years in prison. The BBC, which once employed Saberi, notes that Iran tried Saberi in secret and provided no evidence publicly that support the charges:
An Iranian-American journalist branded a US spy has been jailed for eight years by Iran after a brief trial held behind closed doors.
Roxana Saberi, 31, who was arrested in January and went on trial this week, denies the charge and plans to go on hunger strike, her father said. …
The case is bound to have serious implications for relations between Iran and the US at a time when President Barack Obama has been reaching out to the Islamic Republic, the BBC’s Jon Leyne reports from Tehran.
Even before the trial began, the US state department described the charge of spying as baseless and called for her release, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has demanded her release.
Well, that certainly worked. The State Department should already be leaning on allies with more direct contacts with the mullahcracy to get Saberi freed. They may in fact already be doing this, and those connections would be by their nature quiet.
However, Barack Obama’s sunny “we’re all just folks” approach to Iran has obviously not impressed the mullahs that run the radical Islamist nation. They’re not terribly interested in friendship with the Great Satan, even if The One is running it at the moment. Regardless of who’s in charge, America stands in the way of Iran’s vision of regional hegemony, which starts at the elimination of Israel and ends with control over Mecca and Medina and all the oilfields in southwest Asia. In order to gain that, they will continue their oppression of their own people and find ways to antagonize the US as often as possible.
Instead of making nice to the mullahcracy, Obama needs to find ways to make their mission impossible. Skip the Nowruz messages and continue with the Bush-era efforts to box the mullahs out of the international community. Make it clear that the continued detention of Saberi will have dire consequences, and most of all, quit sucking up to Iran’s mullahs in public.