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Re-engaging Tehran does not mean that Canada and Iran will become strategic partners, however, if Canada can engage with Saudi Arabia, a country with which little is shared in terms of values, then surely it can engage with Iran whose population is highly secular and Western-leaning.
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As international sanctions against Iran were lifted over the weekend and as U.S.-Iranian relations dominated the headlines, Canadian Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion implied on the sidelines of a Cabinet-level retreat that the Government is considering dropping its sanctions against Iran, a move that would align Canada with its closest international partners. That the government recognizes the economic and strategic disadvantages associated with its inherited Iran policy is a major step toward constructive re-engagement with Tehran.
Canada's strength is not in its fleet of aircraft carriers, but in its moral capital. When our foreign policy reflects our core values, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and empathy then we can expect amplification of our influence around the world. Hearts and minds of population, tired of perpetual violence, is not won through military muscle, but by the ability to defuse conflict and tireless effort to establish and maintain peace.
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Several other matters related to sanctions also had posed problems.
Seven Iranian students have received a suspended sentence of up to 12 months and 91 lashes each. Their crime: they recorded a video signing Pharrell Williams' song, Happy. A huge disconnect is obvious in Iran and Saudi Arabia where, in the name of Islam, varying degrees of orthodoxy is being enforced on the masses.
While Iranian President Rouhani pledged to usher in a new era of human rights for Iranians, he continues to engage in massive repression. What follows is an overview of some of the serious human rights violations in Iran that serve as a litmus test for the authenticity of Rouhani's commitment to human rights for the Iranian people.
Iran ranked 144th out of 175 on Transparency International's 2013 Corruption Perception Index. This is not a joke: Iran shared the position with Cameroon, Central African Republic, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea and Ukraine. It is no wonder why Rouhani is trying to expose the corruption of his predecessor.
The charmless Ahmadinejad disrupted the mutually beneficial dynamic with his inability to strike the right balance between genocidal banter and diplomatic pillow talk. His unremitting anti-Semitism -- ringing with historical authenticity -- laid bare the pathological Jew-hatred of the Khomeinist creed, and amplified the threat of a unilateral Israeli response.
Negotiations about Iran's nuclear program are set to resume this week in Geneva between the P5 + 1 countries (USA, UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) and the new Iranian leadership -- arguably the most important diplomatic encounter in a decade. If a new round of negotiations is to effectively roll back the Iranian nuclear threat -- rather than create another "calm environment" enabling increased nuclear activity -- there are a series of specific undertakings that Iran must be called upon to do and prove it is doing. These undertakings are as follows.
The Bush Administration's efforts to strike a workable deal with the Islamic Republic were part of the pattern of American-Iranian diplomacy since the Revolution of 1979: lots of talking, but no bargain, grand or middling. It's almost an instant replay of the Clinton years. In 2000, Albright gave a speech that essentially apologized for past American behaviour towards Iran.
The much-anticipated handshake never happened. And while their speeches to the UN General Assembly offered no major breakthrough between their two countries, U.S. President Barack Obama and Iranian Pr...
What follows is a human rights index -- an inventory of serious human rights abuses and the corresponding actions required -- to turn Iran from a republic of fear to what Rouhani himself called a free Iran. Indeed, the queries below serve as a litmus test for the authenticity of Rouhani's commitment to justice and human rights.
"A government which bombards its own population with chemical weapons must face the harsh consequences of it, just like Saddam [Hussein] who brought eternal shame upon himself by bombing Halabja and b...
Voters can sour on their election picks quickly -- this is true everywhere, but much more so in the present Arab Middle East where it's seemingly always spring. Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani can tinker with the economy all he wants, but the fact is the only way to repair it is to have the sanctions lifted. And the only way to do that is to start negotiating on nukes.