We at United Against Nuclear Iran yesterday reported that the InterContinental The Barclay, located in Midtown Manhattan, has decided to play host to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian delegation during their visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly next week. Despite Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust and his designation of Israel as a "stinking corpse," the InterContinental has once again graciously rolled out the red carpet for the theocratic leader of Iran.
We have questioned the InterContinental's past decisions to conduct business with Iran and, accordingly, have listed InterContinental Hotels on its Iran Business Registry. What is surprising, however, is that despite this year's illegitimate elections, President Ahmadinejad's brutal repression and torture of his own citizens, and the Iranian regime's refusal to give up or even discuss its illegal nuclear weapons program, the InterContinental has still chosen to host President Ahmadinejad and afford him with the imprimatur of respectability that not even the international community has granted him.
By accommodating the Iranian delegation, the InterContinental not only endorses President Ahmadinejad's election, but continues to turn a blind eye to the regime's flagrant violations of human rights and its commitment to illegally develop nuclear weapons.
Has the InterContinental considered whether short-term economic gains outweigh the grave implications of supporting a terrorist state? If the decision was careless, the InterContinental still has an opportunity to refuse to host President Ahmadinejad, but if it was deliberate, one must wonder what the InterContinental seeks to gain and what lengths it would go to in order to accommodate other state sponsors of terror. Either way, they have clearly chosen the wrong path.
Iran has been a major state sponsor of terrorism, including providing support for Hamas and Hezbollah -- two groups that have perpetrated murder of a vast scale and whose violent actions have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of American citizens. Iran has defied the United Nations and the international Atomic Energy Agency to pursue an illegal nuclear program that, by all reasonable accounts, is for the purpose of developing a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly called for the exterminations of Israel, and denied the occurrence of the Holocaust. Reports state that Iran may obtain a nuclear weapon by as early as the end of 2009. If Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, the already volatile Middle East will likely see the start of a regional nuclear arms race. Needless to say, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East is a clear threat to American national security and her allies.
At the same time that Iran's government diverts billions of dollars from its yearly budget to support an illegal nuclear program, Iran's oil-based economy has suffered. Already weakened by U.S. and EU sanctions, Iran's economy now stands on the brink of economic collapse. Fluctuating but lower oil prices and the effects of continued sanctions have made Iran uniquely susceptible to financial pressure. Further economic pressure will have a significant, if not a decisive, impact on Iran's ability to successfully develop the technology to obtain a nuclear weapon. American and international companies that do business with Iran for short-term economic gain legitimize Ayatollah Khomeini's theocracy, provide the last crutch for the faltering Iranian economy, and facilitate the regime's diversion of funds to its illicit nuclear program. Now, more than ever, Iran relies on engagement with corporations like the InterContinental to support its fragile economy, to fund its nuclear program and to perpetuate a brutal dictatorial theocracy.
The InterContinental has chosen to empower the Iranian regime and its nuclear weapons program and rather than to stand with the international community to isolate Iran. It's not too late for the InterContinental to change its mind.