of US-Iran Deal
دورنمای توافق آمریکا و ایران
A month ago I was optimistic about US-Iran deal to be sealed soon and only worried about what would be in it for human rights (1). But after the last round of talks in Geneva which finished yesterday and John Kerry flew to Saudi Arabia, it seems like the prospects for a deal are dim. This turn of events should neither be blamed on Netanyahu's speech at the US Congress nor on Saudi Arabia. The change is because of Iran itself. Let me explain.
Iran's approach has been like the last months of negotiations with Iraq for ending Iran-Iraq war in 1989, when Islamic Republic tried to show an iron fist internally with the Iranian opposition and taking new territories at the borders with Iraq, to show a position of strength. Islamic Republic of Iran has been doing the same thing in the last few months, military exercises in the Persian Gulf and increase of executions of radical groups in Iran. But US is not Saddam's Iraq. When Mao's China wanted to open relations with the US, they rolled out the red carpet for Americans and showed restraint with internal opposition. A country like the US already knows Iran's strength, but at time of such negotiations, the US government needs to justify its decisions to its constituency. US unlike Saddam's Iraq, is a democracy. So the attitude of the other side makes a big difference for negotiations to succeed, which is why Mao's China at the time of Nixon's trip paid close attention to show their good will to American people.
You cannot throw a US journalist in jail and think you can build bridges with American people. You are not making a deal with Saddam's Iraq. The constituency of US government matters, and Islamic Republic has totally missed it. This is not just about the hardliners in Iran. Rouhani's administration has viewed such attitudes as helpful to itself believing that the so-called show of a strong position is helpful in the negotiations and did not raise any internal fight over it. Obama fought the US Congress and Israel for this deal but Mr. Rouhani did nothing with regards to those who continue "Death to America" slogans in Tehran, organize war games in Persian Gulf and roar the gunshots of firing squads.
I do not know if the prospects for any deal are completely lost but am sure prospects for an immediate deal looks dim at this time. For Mr. Obama, having the Iran deal is not that important anymore. He has been able to bring the price of oil so low that has gained him a tremendous US public support. Also the fighting of Iran and ISIS in Iraq is a dual containment and helps the US. Such a war will have no winner and will only weaken both Shia and Sunni fundamentalist militias in the region. For the time being, US-Iran negotiations are not much different from the time when Saeed Jalili kept going to meetings with no results and as we remember, with the passage of time, international sanctions made Iran's economy weaker and weaker. The only difference now is that oil is a lot cheaper than when Mr. Jalili was making his trips back and forth from Tehran to European capitals.
Hoping for a democratic and secular
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
March 5, 2015
1. What is in US-Iran Deal for Human Rights