Stephens: Call Iran by its Proper Name: Kleptocratic Dictatorship


New York Times columnist Bret Stephens believes it's important to call Iran by its proper name. It's not just a dictatorship, it's a kleptocratic dictatorship.

That's why the recent protests so quickly devolved into a call to overthrow the leadership. Everyone in Iran knows they're getting fleeced, Stephens writes, and the West should release information to reinforce that notion.

As Steve Stecklow and his colleagues at Reuters reported in 2013, a supposedly charitable foundation controlled by Khamenei, known as Setad, had assets worth an estimated $95 billion.

“Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians,” the Reuters investigation noted. “The organization now holds a court-ordered monopoly on taking property in the name of the supreme leader, and regularly sells the seized properties at auction or seeks to extract payments from the original owners.”

Stephens suggests sanctioning Setad and letting the Iranian people know how much money they've stolen. Seems like a useful start.

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