In January Iran shot down a Ukrainian Airlines civilian airliner. Since then, Iran has put up roadblocks to the investigation its mass killing of the 176 people on board, and has prevented quick handover of black boxes and joint investigations. Last week, the BBC accused Iran’s Mahan Air of operating amid the coronavirus pandemic and spreading the virus across the region and the world without proper safeguards.

Over the weekend it was revealed that Iran had beaten, tortured and drowned dozens of poor Afghan migrants. In addition, Tehran continues to hold hostage a British-Australian academic which UK reports say has damaged her health. Last year, Iran gunned down numerous protesters and sent proxy groups to Iraq to conduct a wave of attacks on protesters there.

While Iran’s decision to advance its ballistic missile or nuclear program is generally seen through the lens of international relations and discussions about how to “deal” with the regime, its human rights violations and the regime’s criminal actions are often ignored or wrapped up in larger discussions about its other behavior. For instance, Iran’s nuclear program and its prodding of proxies to harass ships in the Gulf and US forces in Iraq is seen as a form of “provocation” that was brought on by US-Iran tensions.

Antony Blinken, a foreign policy advisor under Obama recently pointed out that the US “maximum pressure” campaign is leading to Iran “restarting dangerous elements of its nuclear program.” Obama administration insider Ben Rhodes tweeted on May 8 that the results of dismantling Obama’s Iran policies resulted in Iran being “closer to a nuke.”

However, a larger question looms regarding the Iranian regime policies that are not linked to purely military initiatives. For instance, while Iran put a military satellite into orbit recently and has built new drones and missiles, the other side of Iran’s actions tend to be more outwardly criminal. For instance, downing the civilian airliner and initially denying it. Or drowning migrants or kidnapping foreign academics and holding them hostage.

Regime apologists present no explanation for how this behavior is linked to something that was done to Iran. Tehran’s leadership tends to play up the idea that Iran is a victim, either of Western support for the Shah, a 1953 coup, sanctions or other actions. In this narrative, the regime can present itself abroad as other countries do.

BUT THE actual behavior of the regime is not just about getting around sanctions, which every government would likely seek to do. Nothing forces Iran to drown migrants, down civilian airliners or purposely obfuscate about the extent of coronavirus in the country, while flying airliners around the world and endangering passengers and crew. If Iran is merely trying to get around sanctions and trying to prove to the world that the US behavior is problematic, why kidnap and use foreign academics as bargaining chips, keeping them in harsh conditions in prisons when they committed no crime?

Iran is not the only regime that does this: Turkey and North Korea have detained Westerners and then suddenly released them. But the multiple layers of Iran’s behavior compared to how it tries to present itself on the international stage is unique.

Has Iran’s criminal behavior increased with the recent drownings, coronavirus cover-ups, abuses of academics, shooting of protesters, and the downing of a civilian airliner? The regime may be increasing its brutality and using the tensions with America as a cover. For instance Iran’s foreign ministry sought to use the coronavirus crisis to demand a way around sanctions, claiming that the sanctions harmed its battle against the virus. If this had been accurate, then Iran would have stopped Mahan air flights and sought aid in mid-February.

Instead, Iran hid the extent of the virus in February and even prevented Doctors Without Borders from helping. The Islamic Republic could have admitted immediately that it shot down a civilian airliner in January and helped Ukraine study the black boxes, instead of harming the investigation.

Why did Iranian border guards force 57 men and children into a river on May 1, where most of them drowned? Amateur videos have now located where the poor workers died. The regime’s order to murder the Afghans is not unique. It also guns down Kurdish workers without trial in the West Azerbaijan province city of Khoy, accusing them of smuggling. Over the weekend, Iranian security forces shot at a group of these Kurdish “kolbars” causing the death of one of them.

The long list of regime crimes paints a picture of state policy, from downing airliners to shooting protesters and migrants and abusing academics, to spreading a virus among vulnerable airline staff.

Source » jpost