Tehran Doesn’t Invade, It Infiltrates

infiltration

Supporters of Tehran like to repeat that Iran hasn’t initiated a war for hundreds of years (since 1798), idealizing Iran as a peaceful country, while pointing out the US is a country which has initiated numerous wars.

And although this makes statistical sense, it is profoundly misleading. Tehran’s modus operandi is not invasion but infiltration and subversion.

The proof lies in Iran’s military and political influence in Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Iraq, Yemen and to a lesser extent (for now), in Afghanistan, Bahrain, UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Sudan, Egypt etc…

 

And proud of it too

suleimaniThe Iranians are (justifiably) proud of the power they exert: Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei recently boasted that Iran’s influence spreads from Yemen to Lebanon adding that Iran’s “current power was unsurpassable for anyone in the world”.

Iran’s military forces outside of its borders are masterminded and managed by one Qassam Suleimani, the chief of Iran’s elite Qods, a formerly shadowy master puppeteer who has finally stepped into the spotlight for doing what he stated already back in 2007: “you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and Afghanistan“.

Since then, he has his own offices in Beirut, Damascus and Baghdad with key local representatives and is constantly on the move from battle to battle.

Suleimani enjoys the full support of Supreme Leader Khamenei who urged him to increase terror attacks against the West and its allies.

 

Lebanon (Hezbollah + Qods) & Gaza (Hamas)

lebanon palestineIran’s ties with Lebanon and Gaza date back from the Islamic revolution and the wish to fight a mutual enemy – Israel.

Formal ties escalated with the signing of a treaty in 2008 which guaranteed Lebanon military and financial support ($10 Billion in trade and $100-$150 Million to Hezbollah yearly). Since Hezbollah rose to power in Beirut, Iran’s political influence has increased to the point where the Lebanese government has openly requested for Iranian military aid on Lebanese soil. Tehran cordially agreed, Beirut reneged and then recapitulated under pressure from Hezbollah.

But is Iran welcome by the Lebanese people? A poll from 2012 shows that only 39% of the Lebanese view Iran favorably while 74% approved of tougher sanctions against Iran.

Likewise, Iran’s influence in Gaza dramatically increased following Hamas’s rise to power in the 2006 elections. Iran supplies Hamas with rockets/ammunition and funding  to the tune of $30-$50 Million a year. On the whole, Iran’s influence is welcomed in Gaza by all Hamas supporters but Fatah leaders are ambivalent – they fear Tehran but they understand that without Iran, their cause would fizzle out. And although Hamas suffered a fall-out with Iran by choosing the “wrong side” in the Syrian civil war, relations are warming up to normal as a Hamas delegation recently was welcomed warmly in Tehran enjoying meetings on highest levels.

So did Iran invade Lebanon and Gaza? No.

Have they turned both of these states into satellite Shi’ite entities of Iran’s influence? Definitely yes.

 

Syria & Iraq (Hezbollah + Qods)

syria iraqImmediately following the breakout of the civil war in Syria, Iran sent “humanitarian aid” and warned the West not to get involved while doing exactly that – got involved: Iran financed Assad to the tune of approximately $10 Billion and placed its Hezbollah/Qods troops at his disposal, allowing Suleimani to echo Colonel Kurtz’s from Apocalypse Now: “The Syrian army is useless! Give me one brigade of the Basij, and I would conquer the whole country“. Regardless of Suleimani’s criticism of the Syrian army, Assad owes his power to Tehran and supports Iran politically and militarily without hesitation.

Iran’s involvement in Iraq began with its support of the Shi’ite Prime Minister El-Maliki but it received a huge boost following ISIS’s rampage in Syria and Iraq. Hezbollah troops were immediately reassigned to deal with ISIS on Iraqi soil while Suleimani mobilized the Iranian army directly against ISIS on Iraqi soil.

Much like it does in all other regions with large Shi’ite populations, Tehran strengthens its high level military and political pressure with grassroots organizations and local militia.

And just as in Lebanon and Gaza, Baghdad placed formal requests to Tehran for military support offering Iran the chance to turn Iraq into a satellite state as well.

Foreign minister Zarif made Iran’s stance vis-à-vis Syria and Iraq very clear: he maintains support for both while urging the West to stay out.

So, did Iran invade Syria and Iraq? Again, no…not literally.

Has Tehran turned Syria and Iraq into satellite states? Syria, definitely yes. Iraq? On the way.

 

Yemen and the Gulf States

yemen plusUnlike Lebanon, Gaza, Syria and Iraq, Iran’s influence in some states is still in its infancy.

Two months ago, Iran backed a mini-revolution in Yemen and managed to wrestle Yemen out of the Saudi hands. This event followed half a year of tense relations between Iran and Yemen regarding a kidnapped Iranian diplomat and repeated efforts by Tehran to mobilize Shi’ite supported Hoothi troops. These efforts were finally successful.

Meanwhile, Tehran continues to try to infiltrate its Gulf neighbors by operating spy rings and subversive organizations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

 

So, no, Iran doesn’t officially invade countries or initiate wars.

It’s smarter, cheaper and more effective to simply infiltrate countries through a volatile cocktail of money, military and religious support. Reminds us somewhat of the Roman peace – it also claimed that it only acted out of peaceful intentions, until they conquered most of Western hemisphere.

Iran is the SHARK within Rouhani’s WAVE

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Iran host a conference against violence, extremism and terrorism” – sounds a bit like “pedophile running the PTA”, “alcoholist as designated driver” or “butchers supporting vegans”, doesn’t it?

Iran, a long-time supporter of global terrorism and subversion as well as a country led by religious extremists and a serial abuser of human rights is holding a conference against violence, extremism and terror? This should sound strange to all but what is even stranger is that some leaders actually don’t find this strange at all.

 

Iran’s Path from Terror to Peace?

Shark_2Last September, President Rouhani introduced his initiative for peace,  WAVE (World Against Violence & Extremism), at his UN General Assembly speech stating that “peace was within reach”.

Even then, it sounded a bit strange that such an initiative would come from Iran but it seemed to symbolize Rouhani’s quest for a rapprochement with the West.

Since then, Iran has constantly rebranded itself as a moral spearhead against extremism, violence and terrorism repeatedly while at the same time continuing to do the exact opposite by increasing its involvement in terrorism through its elite Qods forces and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, increasing its abuse of human rights through maiming and executions for religious crimes and increasing its efforts at subversion in any country with a large Shi’ite population (Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain etc…).

Everyone should have shouted “the emperor has no clothes” but they didn’t. Everyone should know that within Rouhani’s WAVE remains the shark that is the regime in Tehran but they don’t.

 

The Best Defense is Offence

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In order to strengthen its position as a peacemaker and weaken the links between Tehran and extremism/violence/terrorism, it wasn’t sufficient for Iran to rebrand itself as pro-peace and pioneer in human rights (check out human rights chief Larijani’s speech at the UPR): It was essential to rebrand the US/West as the ultimate supporters of global terrorism as well as the biggest abusers of human rights with a special focus on Fergusson in the US.

Nobody in Tehran bothered to point out the difference between legislated abuses of human rights such as jailing journalists, lawyers and dissidents, executing gays, persecuting minorities, enforcing gender segregation, empowering abusers of women etc…, as opposed to isolated outbreaks of racism that are frowned upon by Western governments and their judicial systems. And although Khamenei loves to rant about racism against abuses of African Americans in the US, it is hard to not remember that Obama is an African American himself and that Hillary Clinton is running for the next presidency – would Khamenei allow a woman, a Baha’i, a Christian or a Jew become president? No.

Nobody in Tehran took the time to point out that although the US/West is guilty of supporting terrorism in isolated cases, terrorist organizations are actively financed and supported by Iran since the Islamic revolution and they are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Syria alone.

 

Iran’s Attempt to Divide and Conquer

dividedWhy is Iran going through all of this? What’s the point?

Quite simply, Tehran is running a campaign to create an alternative to the US/West for those countries who share Iran’s animosity to the US. Khamenei wants to lead a Global Islamic Awakening that will surpass the powers of the “arrogant imperialistic Satan” by uniting all the US’s enemies under a camp with military and economic powers supported by lofty moral rights.

Tehran is targeting 5 intertwining groups:

  • Neighbors: Countries which are in easy reach of Iran – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf States, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan etc…
  • NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) members: Mostly countries in African, South America and Asia – Iran will be chairing NAM until next year.
  • Islamic Countries: Any and all countries with strong Islamic parties (preferably Shi’ite) which might find an Islamic Revolution appealing.
  • Anti-US Superpowers: Specifically Russia and China who are not fearful of US/Western sanctions.
  • Anti-US Western Countries: Any and all countries which are waiting eagerly for sanctions against Iran to drop in order to do make money from Iran.

The participants of the WAVE conference all fit into one of more of these groups: delegates from Asian, African, South American and Middle Easter countries were “supported” by several delegates from Norway and France.

During the conference, Rouhani presented a 10 point plan to combat violence. It is worth reading his first point to understand just how cynical it really is: “Countries which have helped formation of terrorism through organizing it and providing financial aid should explicitly announce their hatred of terrorism and stop direct or indirect funding of the groups. They should also work with victim countries in fighting terrorism in terms of military, intelligence and financial help. Iraq and Syria have undergone unprecedented casualties and human loss, and countries which were behind the damages should bear responsibilities to compensate the loss.”

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Terror & Subversion:

The Fatal Dangers of Internet in Iran

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Since becoming president, Rouhani’s views and actions regarding social media are at odds with those of the regime in Tehran and the Iranian people.

Rouhani,  Khamenei and many other leaders in Iran all have access to the internet and to social media platforms such as Twitter and facebook but their Iranian compatriots do not for fear that these sites contain content that is not suitable for them under Islamic law.

 

Rouhani & Social Media

rouhani thanksBoth leaders are prolific tweeters and have garnered a large number of English speaking followers (Rouhani = 280K, Khamenei = 88K) through prolific tweeting (Rouhani = 3K, Khamenei = 6.5K).

These tweets are in English and meant for foreigners but these accounts are sometimes used to supposedly communicate messages to the Iranian people that will never be seen by them:

The government is currently blocking “tens of thousands” of websites including all social media platforms including facebook which is “a project of the CIA in an attempt to collect data from individuals around the world”, and its founder is “a leading Zionist”.

The regime not only believes that it has the moral right to censure websites, it is working hard to convince the Iranian people that the internet, and specially social media, is bad for them. In fact, the state TV aired a news segment in which users of social media were portrayed as addicts and social media as a vice.

 

Death Penalty to Blogger

soheilFurthermore, the cyber cops are not only filtering, they are also monitoring internet usage which allows them to pick up offenders who tried to log on to sites that are blocked. The unfortunate people who happened to be monitored, such as Sohel Arabi, are in danger of being arrested, imprisoned and even executed.

Arabi made the critical mistakes of posting four posts on facebook which were monitored and judged to be “insulting the Prophet”.

He was picked up in November 2013 and last week, he found out that he is to be executed for this crime.

To add insult to injury, Arabi’s death sentence was passed while he was in his cell and he found out about it from his wife who visited him.

Arabi’s mistake was to believe that he was free to voice his expressions when in fact there is no freedom of speech nor the freedom to criticize the regime.

Relevant posts:

Over 750 Estimated Executions (and Counting) in 2014

hang 2014 5

 

617 reported executions unntil November 7th – by the end ogf the year, the official number should reach 750 while the unnoficial toll is estimated at 1,000 – 1,200.

It’s hard to sometimes get a feel for every single person executed in Iran.

A good way to start is to go through the list provided by Iran Human Right Documentation Center. Yes, there are murderers, drug dealers and rapists which might not bother you that much but then those who were executed for the crime of Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) or “harassment” should make you uncomfortable.

soheil-arabiYou should feel uncomfortable because in Iran, writing a post against the Prophet (Mohammad) or against the Supreme Leader (Khamenei) can lead to a death sentence just as in the case Sohel Arabi  while you can write anything you want against your president.

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You should feel uncomfortable because in Iran, killing someone in self-defence can lead to a death sentence if you are an underage woman and if your husband was working for the ministry of Intelligence as was the case for Reyhaneh Jabbari while you don’t have to fear that you will be forced to marry someone you didn’t want to.

 

ayatollah-boroujerdi4You should feel uncomfortable because in Iran, if you hold beliefs that divert from the rulings of the Islamic Revolution, you will find your self on death row as in the case of Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi while you have the luxury to be able to criticize your government if you feel that it doesn’t represent you.

not_availableYou should feel uncomfortable because in Iran there is a long list of people executed for “N/A” – information “Not Available” – but most of the victims are listed as “Human rights activists” and that should make you wonder just how much youdon’t know about what goes on in Iran.

And then, there is the fact that the judicial system in Iran doesn’t help to achieve a fair trial – human rights lawyers are jailed, prisoners are tortured and are sometimes refused the rights to meet their lawyers, judges are very strict when it comes to religious offences etc…

What makes all of this frustrating is that the president of Iran, Rouhani, is accepted as a moderate president who is striving to bring Iran closer to the West and yet, the rate of exectutions in his first year as president is the highest in decades – over 250 more yearly executions than under Ahmadinejad!

 

Tehran Still Ahead on Nuclear Deal Delay

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A whole year has brought us back to square one: both sides are willing to negotiate a deal – not more, not less.

Rouhani ‘s promise for change was based on de-isolating Iran and negotiations were the first step. Interests clash. While the US led P5+1 want to reduce Iran’s nuclear program Iran wants to increase it. Were Iran selling and the P5+1 buying, this would be tantamount to the seller increasing his original price as the negotiations continue.

 

Four Reasons Why
khamene 6An article in Foreign Policy identified 4 reasons for the breakdown in talks and if they are correct, don’t expect a nuclear deal ever:

  • First of all, Khamenei calls the shots and not Rouhani & Zarif.
    The all-powerful Khamenei remains the wild card in this deal. Although Khamenei officially supports Rouhani in achieving a nuclear deal, or better worded in eroding the sanctions, his rhetoric is far from conciliatory: for him, the US remains the “Great Satan” which will never succeed to “bring Iran to its knees” due to the resilience and the military might of Iran, “irrespective” of diplomacy.
    He is wary of the West and believes in an Islamic Awakening that will bring on his longed-for “Century of Islam”.
  • Second, although sanctions are not lifted, they are weakening.
    Before Rouhani, sanctions were circumvented sporadically by hungry rogue businessmen. Since Rouhani’s efforts at de-isolation, sanctions are circumvented by governments, with Russia and China trampling US-led sanctions. Numerous deals are being brokered through numerous foreign delegations to Tehran who are wooed by the immense financial profits to be made and foolishly believing Iran’ Economic Minister Tayyebnia when he says that “Iran is among the safest countries for (foreign) investment.”
  • Third, dignity, specifically Iranian dignity, is not for bargain.
    The West views this dignity as a form of a bargaining chip while the Iranians present it as a deal-breaker on a very personal level. Khamenei himself went from idealizing “heroic flexibility” in negotiations to leading a “resistance economy” meant to reach Iran’s “long term objectives”.
    The Iranians do not understand, appreciate or accept the need of the world to control its nuclear program. The insistence of the West is tantamount to calling them liars.
  • Fourth, Iran refrains from any significant compromise and refuses to accept restrictions.
    If Iran is serious about not developing a nuclear bomb, it could rationally have accepted the nuclear deal and lifted the sanctions. But Iran doesn’t want to settle for less than it has already even though large parts of its nuclear program have exceeded IAEA and NPT limitations. It would rather keep on negotiating in the hope that the West will choose a deal over a possible war. And in the meantime, it still maintains enrichment, still runs the heavy water facility in Arak and keeps the military base in Parchin closed from inspections…all unresolved issues according to the IAEA.

 

What Next?

0kDnx9qIOne thing for sure, it’s going to get more complicated on two fronts: The internal interests of hardliners in Tehran and the external interests of the Russians.

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Deadline Extension Pushes Rouhani Under or East

iran east west

As the nuclear talks deadline was extended yet again (this time for seven months),  and it still remains to be seen whether this will mean more sanctions on the people of Iran, it is time to look at the person who probably has the most to lose by this situation: Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani.

The Promise in Rouhani

2730e181-8853-4db6-984e-9b05d239803e-460x276

Rouhani, it must be remembered, was elected a year and a half ago on the basis of reformation and getting the country’s economy into motion after long years of stagnation from sanctions, among other things. This is still far from being the case.

We cannot ignore that under his rule, Iran is indeed trying to speak with the West, although its tactic can be summarized as “stall + divide“. Also, most critics and experts on Iran agree that the true power lies in the hand of supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.

But Rouhani is a symbol of sorts, having been elected on the slogan “Government of Prudence and Hope”, one might argue that Rouhani is the only viable partner for talks in the current regime. Holding that assumption, it is quite alarming, when putting 2 and 2 together, to see that Rouhani is in big trouble politically.

Growing Opposition to Rouhani

27261Image1Reports from Tehran suggest that there is plan for a coup d’état in Iran. There is also the political blunder Rouhani has been facing for a long time now, when he was unable to appoint a science minister, a fact that marks clear problems with the Iranian parliament. Also, there are always tensions with the IRGC and other hardliners in Iran who, on the whole, vehemently resist any concessions on the nuclear program.

Were Iran a Western country, Rouhani might rely on the popular support he receives from his public. But a) even that support seems to be slipping away from him and b) popular support can be easily overridden in Tehran with one word by Khamenei just as in the bungled 2009 elections.

Rouhani: Under or East?

putin-rouhani-russia-iranWe shouldn’t be surprised then, that this might be the moment that his foes from inside have been waiting for and that the failure of the nuclear negotiations might lead to a severe backlash that Tehran’s hardliners must have been praying for.

Either that, or Rouhani will have to go down an alternative path: give up on rapprochement with the West and the elimination of sanctions while choosing to “buddy-up” to an “anti-West” coalition headed by Russia and backed by China, members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and neighbors who may have a strategic economic interest such as India.

In any case, the West will have lost the chance to normalize its relationship with Iran even though no one really knows how the West would benefit from such a friendship.

Lawyers and Journalists Become “Endangered Species” in Iran

endangered

 

Despite Rouhani’s “moderacy”, or perhaps because of it, things in Iran seeem to be going from bad to worse. Rouhani’s promises for changes in the state of human rights appealed to his voters but also ruffled up quite a few feathers among hardliners who want to maintain the status quo “gained” ander Ahmadinejad.

Human rights lawyers and journalists seem to be on the front line with poilitcal opposition activists and minorities – anyone whose presence reminds the hardliners by their presence that the criticism against the state of human rights in Iran is horrid.

Nasrin Sotoodeh is a human rights lawyer who was jailed, relleased and re-jailed following protest over the acid attacks against women in Iran. She spent 3 years in Evin prison and was awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought. She was also under a ten-year ban from practicing, and although the ban was released, it is now re-instated.

Jason Rezaian is an American-Iranian journalist working for the Washington Post in Iran. He was arrested for charges that range from sedition to spying and has been in jail for over three months with limited access to his lawyer nor communication to his family. He was arrested with his wife who was subsequently released.

Of course, these two do not represent the thousands of people who are rotting in prisons in Iran for charges which would seem ludicrous anywhere else in the world. But they do represent the problem olying behind Rouhani’s promises: as the rates of hangings increase and as persecutions of religious/sexual minorities are on the rise, the inability of Rouhani to deal with these two high-profile cases exemplifies the stalemate in Iran – human “wrongs” in Iran are getting worse and Rouhani remains silent.

 

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rouhani-stop-lying-about-human-rights/

Don’t Trust Rouhani’s Trust in “Nuclear Fatwa”

nuclear fatwa

The problems and the possible deal with Iran on its nuclear program boil down to one word: TRUST.

In reality, there is very little trust between Tehran and the P5+1 because, if the past is a judge of the future, Iran broke whatever trust there was by crossing IAEA red lines repeatedly. In order to foster such a trust, Tehran will have to go beyond its usual denials and produce a form of commitment that will allay the fears that Iran’s nuclear program will lead to a nuclear-armed Iran.

That’s why when Rouhani points to Khamenei’s dubious “nuclear fatwa” “(fatwa = religious edict) as “the most solid proof to guarantee the peaceful nature of the Iranian program”, it only serves to increase the distrust.

The problem with the nuclear fatwa

IRAN-US-IRAQ-KHAMENEIEven if there is no doubt that Khamenei issued his oral “nuclear fatwa” prohibiting the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons, there are many doubts concerning the effectiveness of this fatwa as a binding commitment the world can trust for two specific reasons:

  • There is no written version of this fatwa anywhere – not in the Iranian parliament, nor on any official site (not even Khamenei’s). Although some verbal fatwas proved to be binding, the fact that such an important fatwa is not written nor has it been passed as law by the parliament weakens its strength as a binding commitment.
  • The fact that fatwas, according to Muslim law, may be rescinded by the issuer of the fatwa or by his successor without any reservations or problems further weakens the calls of Iranians to portray the fatwa as “proof” that Iran is not seeking the bomb.

Basically, if this is the most “solid proof” of Tehran’s innocence, we are in big trouble. If we add this weak link to the stream of accusations and threats reminiscent of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the word “trust” is the last to come to mind.

More reasons for mistrust

Anti-US_TehranThe US, “the Great Satan”, is accused regularly of everything from being the agent behind all terrorism in the Middle East (#potcallingkettleblack) for promoting Islamophobia, for creating the ebola virus, for changes in the climate etc…

The accusations, sometimes ringing true and sometimes sounding ridiculous, are backed with constant threats of “eradicating” the US’s ally in the region – Israel. Khamenei even issued a 9 point plan on how to destroy Israel.

These threats become ominous when they are backed by boasts by Khamenei, IRGC commanders, politicians and mullahs of Iran’s missile power which, if and when Iran reaches break-out point, can bring nuclear destruction to any enemy in its sights.

In the end, as long as Tehran has a nuclear program, nothing Rouhani can say or do can create enough trust to believe that it won’t lead to a nuclear bomb. Only full compliance over time can do that.

The world has to accept that no nuclear deal will magically destroy any chance for Iran to make a bomb – at best, it can only delay the break-out point.

Owning a Dog in Iran = 74 Lashes

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This could have been funny if it were not sad: Dog owners in Iran are liable to receive 74 lashes.

Here’s what the law says: “Anyone who walks or plays with animals such as dogs or monkeys in public places will damage Islamic culture, as well as the hygiene and peace of others, especially women and children”. The Koran doesn’t forbid dogs but that doesn’t seem to bother the lawmakers in Iran. Oh, the law doesn’t apply to the police, hunters and farmers.

74 lashes for owning a dog in Iran! And this follows human rights chief Larijani’s “Oscar-winning” performance at the UPR in which he categorally stated that there is no torture in Iran. Perhaps that’s because Larijani has created a new loophole in what he calls “multi-cultural” human rights: that would mean that if Iran decides to punish someone with 74 lashes for owning a dog in Iran, that should be OK because it is simply part of Iran’s culture.

Endless Circles on Road to Nuclear Deal

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Endless Circle 1: Khamenei’s Red Lines

red_lines

One look at Supreme Leader Khamenei’s red lines for nuclear negotiations is enough to understand that Iran is in no mood to compromise on anything any time soon. All his red lines focus on maintaining Tehran’s nuclear program “as-is” despite the fact that the problem arises from the transgression of numerous red lines set down by the IAEA over the past decade.

Sanctions were put in place due to the fact that Tehran crossed the IAEA’s red lines and it is these sanctions inadvertently brought about the election of Rouhani whose critical goal is to rid Iran of the sanctions. But Khamenei isn’t budging: He wants the sanctions removed and his nuclear program intact.

But in the meantime, he is leading the world around and around in circles, speaking first of “heroic flexibility” and then retreating back to defiance.

It’s like someone caught stealing who wants to plea bargain his way into keeping his freedom and the loot.  Or like having a cake, eating it and asking for more.

 

Endless Circle 2: Crossing IAEA Red Lines

iaea

Although Rouhani promised greater transparency and although Iran has stopped, as far as we know, enriching Uranium beyond 5%, parts of Tehran’s nuclear program remain hidden from the eyes of IAEA inspectors and the world.

Iran is still not answering any questions regarding possible military dimensions of its nuclear program and there is still no entry to the Parchin military base which seems to be the focus for military experiments in nuclear devices.

Once again, Tehran goes full circle from transgressing, agreeing to transparency and transgressing once more.

 

Endless Circle 3: Hardliner vs. Charm Offensive

Mohammad Javad Zarif

Supporting Khamenei are a bunch of eager hardliners who want to remind the world that Iran isn’t going to give in promising to increase enrichment if nuclear negotiations falter, that Iran’s missile capabilities are enormous, that no one will cross Khamenei’s red lines etc… Even FM Zarif who adopted Rouhani’s charm campaign knows how to echo Khamenei’s red lines when he suggests that a deal is possible only if the P5+1 would “officially recognize” Tehran’s nuclear program in its entirety.

Hello Mr. Zarif! Skilled negotiators such as yourself and your president should know that Iran will have to give something in order to get something. Perhaps he knows something about the steadfastness of the West we don’t? Or perhaps, this is simply endless-circling diplomacy – Zarif is a wizard at turning hot and cold repetitively, effusing optimism and pessimism in quick succession

 

Endless Circle 4: Iranian Double Talk

sanctions

Another form of counter-productive rhetoric that complicates the negotiations is the issue of the effect of sanctions. Rouhani won the election with a promise to free Iran of the sanctions and he seems definitely focused on this goal.

To most people around the world, including Obama himself, the only reason that Iran is even willing to negotiate a deal is the pressure of sanctions on the Iranian economy. And it’s working: Lo and behold, the few sanction reliefs have already kick jumped Iran’s economy.

But somehow, some leaders including Zarif himself continue to belittle the effects of sanctions (“sanctions have utterly failed“) while striving to make them disappear at the same time…once again,endless circles that give Iran more time without making any hard decisions.

Obama may be sending letters to Khamenei and Kerry might be writing checks that he can’t deliver but for Khamenei, the US was and remains the “Great Satan” which represents the “arrogant powers” who are doomed to failure under the great Islamic Awakening and the upcoming “Century of Islam”.

 

Breaking the Endless Circles: Just Answer 3 Questions!

Iran will have to decide which is better – a nuclear deal or increased poverty?

The West has to decide – can Iran can be trusted with a nuclear program?

And we should all ask ourselves – what happens after Khamenei?