Is it really about Iran’s nukes?
One-on-one talks with the Iranian leadership, was an Obama campaign pledge. Kerry has been rooting for a US-Iranian rapprochement since 2007 and sent Iranian New Year (Nowruz) messages to the Iranian people highlighting how his own Iranian family members have enriched his life. Hagel pushed for Washington to recognize “Iran’s status as a legitimate power” and work with Iran to “overcome decades of mutual mistrust, suspicion and hostility” in his 2008 book “America: Our Next Chapter”.
Obama’ right-hand and close family friend Jarrett was born in Shiraz and speaks Farsi fluently; she was selected to lead yearlong secret talks between the US and Iran to pave the way for negotiations in Switzerland. Nowrouzzadeh is allegedly a former employee of the pro-Iranian lobbying organization The National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), whose president Trita Parsi has been invited to the White House.
So is this rush by the White House to shake hands with the ayatollahs all about Iran’s nuclear program? The Iranian-born American academic Vali Nasr, a member of the US State Department’s Foreign Policy Board and a Senior Fellow at Brookings Institution, may have the answer.
In his book “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts within Islam will shape the future,” he believes that Iran’s growing strength and reach makes it a preferred US partner — and due to the fact Iran is too powerful to destroy, the West should seek engagement with Tehran rather than confrontation.
Proponents of US engagement with Iran — including former Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, CNN host Farid Zakaria and former CIA Case officer and author Robert Baer — claim that Iran’s a “rational” regional state actor with which America can do business.
That label “rational,” like beauty, depends on the eye of the beholder. Iran’s ruling ayatollahs are certainly being “rational” from their perspective when they fund and arm militias to cause mayhem in Arab states with a view to toppling governments; they’re rationale in this case is the revival of the Persian Empire.
However, Iran’s messianic yearnings to bring on the coming of the Twelfth Imam (otherwise known as The Hidden Imam), signifying the end of the world, as we know it, should ring alarm bells. Iran’s Supreme Leader was seen urging a crowd to prepare for this day, which he says is soon coming. Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wished aloud for the arrival of the Twelfth Imam during a speech to the UN General Assembly.
A video documentary disseminated in 2012 — said to be approved by the highest levels of the Iranian government and allegedly screened in the Prime Minister’s office — hails the Ayatollah Khamenei and Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah as being the prophesized figures tasked with preparing the way.
Credit should go where credit’s due. No doubt realizing that a loose-cannon like Ahmadinejad wasn’t conducive to their goals, the ruling ayatollahs ensured that their country is now fronted-up by such benign, charismatic figures as Prime Minister Rouhani and his Foreign Minister Mohammed Javed Zarif, who do come across as being the type of individuals one might enjoy chatting with over dinner.
But let’s not forget that, ultimately, it’s Khamenei who’s Iran’s decision maker. And he certainly isn’t behaving rationally; that’s if he’s genuinely interested in bringing the nuclear deal to fruition. In March, he warned that the West was deceitful. Earlier this month he called the Obama administration “a cheater and a liar” and he now accuses the US of creating a “myth” concerning Iranian nuclear weapons to paint Iran as a threat.
Iran’s Deputy Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami announced on state television a few days ago, that the nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, would never have access to military sites.
On Saturday, the Iranian military flexed its might during a parade where calls for “Death to America” were heard.
And how is President Obama responding following his celebration of Nowruz at home with Michelle and the girls? He’s not only blessed the Russian president’s decision to supply Iran with S-300 ground-to-air missiles systems, he expressed surprise that the ban had “held this long, given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons.”
Moreover, Obama says he’s prepared to compromise on Tehran’s demand that sanctions be immediately lifted once the deal is concluded when Iran could instantly receive significant economic relief.
Senior adviser to the Iranian President Ali Younesi has described Obama as the weakest US president; he just may have a point!
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view