While the Iranian leadership is publicly exhibiting strength in the face of
increasing sanctions, behind the scenes some cracks are appearing within the
Tehran is struggling to deal with the consequences of new
sanctions that were implemented on Saturday against Iran’s banking, shipping,
and industrial sectors. The sanctions were originally passed back in October,
but did not go into effect until Saturday.
On Sunday, Iranian Press TV
reported that Iranian Industry, Mines and Trade Minister Mehdi Ghazanfari
responded to the sanctions saying: “sanctions have caused an economic advantage
for the production sector, and we should use this opportunity in the best
But in an article published in The National Interest by Ray Takeyh,
of the Council on Foreign Relations, Takeyh argues, “an intense debate is
gripping the Islamic Republic’s corridors of power.”
He goes on to claim
that the dissent not only comes from the more moderate reformers, but also now
from right-wing circles.
He quotes the head of the Basij militia, Gen.
Muhammad Reza Naqdi, as saying that “if the United States behaves properly we
can negotiate with it.”
This came after a similar statement made in
November by Mohsen Rezai, the former head of the Revolutionary
Takeyh goes on to conclude that years of sanctions are “beginning
to bear fruit” and that this pressure is opening up an avenue for a possible
However, it is also possible that such speculation is part of a
continued pattern of Iranian diplomatic delaying tactics that are buying the
Islamic Republic time to get closer to attaining nuclear weapons.
with this strategy, or possibly concurring with Takeyh’s opinion, the right-wing
Iranian publication, Jomhuri-ye Eslami, stated that continued negotiations were
a “positive step that should be continued.”
Professor Ze’ev Maghen, head
of the department of Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, believes the
Iranians are just playing games with Western powers.
indicators of an increased willingness on the part of the Iranian leadership to
palaver with the West regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program must be
taken with a Dead Sea’s worth of salt,” said Maghen.
“It takes only about a
quarter of a decade of historical perspective to understand that the Iranians
always play this game: They intransigently thumb their noses at America and at
the international sanctions and provoke the Western powers to the very brink of
action, and then in the 11th hour, when the hammer is about to fall, they make a
small, barely visible gesture towards accommodation...and the West goes
wild with optimism and hope, and ratchets down the threat.
Iranians enter into a short-lived “dialogue” which (as planned) never leads
anywhere. This happens again and again, and the Western penchant for naïve
enthusiasm seemingly never wanes. And all the while the Iranian centrifuges are
But as usual, mixed messages continue to come out of Iran as
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly stated on Sunday, as quoted by the
Kuwaiti Arab Times, “They thought Iran’s economy would break down, but it did
not. Iran is engaged in a smart economic war with the enemy.”
backed Arab Gulf states latest response to the Iran threat came Monday, as
Al-sharq Al-awsat reported that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will hold a
two-day summit that will focus on Iran security issues.
Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal criticized Iran in the lead up to the conference
stating, “Iran is using the circumstances to interfere in Arab internal affairs
and we would have understood their stand if it is for the good, unfortunately it
is spreading division.”
All of this comes after a senior Iranian
commander said earlier in December that Israel is Iran’s “longest-range
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has presented himself as the
strong security candidate in the upcoming elections in January, stating on
Saturday that Iran will be the central issue of his government if he is