‘Why Iran is winning’

Iranian regime backing for the deal with the US-led Western powers should be a cause for profound concern to the US and its allies.

April 11, 2015 21:18
4 minute read.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (L) speaks at a news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad. (photo credit: REUTERS)

What came out of the US-led talks with the Iranian regime? The Iranians and the American-led Western alliance left the framework agreement negotiations disagreeing on virtually all major core issues on which they reportedly agreed.

And now the Iranians have gained international legitimacy as a negotiating partner in good standing with the Western powers. In short, Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, pursuing the world most dangerous weapons, has outmaneuvered the US – the world’s bastion of freedom and democracy. The Obama administration also seems to have rendered the Iranian regime immune to Western military assault. So far, its Iran 1, US-led Western powers 0.

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Iran obfuscates, charms and bullies.

Former White House official Elliot Abrams noted that Iranian officials screamed and shouted at US Secretary of State John Kerry throughout the negotiations. Kerry reportedly did nothing. Iran got what it wanted from the Americans. On Thursday April 2, President Barack Obama announced that United States had reached an historic understanding with Iran, emphasizing that “it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives,” which Obama left undefined. Defending Iran Obama also noted, “Iran has met all of its obligations.”

Hours later, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif tweeted that the administration had misled the public on the issue of sanctions, adding that the White House fact sheet was wrong.

Zariff said, “Sanctions will be forever lifted immediately.” Then Kazzem Jalali, head of the Iranian Parliament’s Research Center, said that what was reached between the sides was “merely a statement, and not an agreement.”

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, commander of Iran’s Basij military force, addressed thousands of Basij in Iran saying, “The comments made after the Lausanne negotiations once again showed the United States’ strong grudge against the Iranians and proved that the US officials are liars and untrustworthy.” Naqdi also said that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable.”

It’s classic Iranian diplomacy and textbook political warfare. The Iranians are working to undermine US credibility and trigger tensions among Western negotiators. In fact, according to a report by The Times of Israel, the French government’s fact sheet differed from the US version, “[E]scalating controversy and criticism over a deal that President Barack Obama has hailed as historic.”

The US seems to have willingly allowed itself be bamboozled by the Iranian government. The Iranians are shrewd negotiators. When they know their opponents are desperate for deal and on a deadline, as they sensed of the United States, they hold out to extract the highest possible price.

The Iranians have detected weakness in Obama’s behavior over the past year.

The US president conceded each negotiating red line he had set, signaling to the Iranians he would eventually give in. Each time the US conceded, the Iranians upped the ante.

Looking back at the last year of negotiations, the Iranians have forced the West to retreat. As Dore Gold, Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, reminds us in a Jerusalem Center brief, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure has been left intact. Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif boasted after the recent understandings were announced that Iran did not have to close down a single nuclear facility, and will continue to engage in uranium enrichment as well as research and development.

America’s enthusiasm for striking a deal with Iran was not lost on Amir Hossein Motaghi, former top media adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who defected to the West during the Swiss negotiations. Motaghi noted that, “The US negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the P5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.”

The former Iranian adviser’s criticism of US negotiating weakness was reflected by the support for the deal by the regime’s most consistently anti-American leaders. The New York Times reported that even Mohammad Ali Jafari, the highest ranking commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, appeared to support the emerging deal, saying, “The Iranian nation and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps thank these dear negotiators for their honest attempts and political jihad, and for their resistance on the defined red lines.”

Iranian regime backing for the deal with the US-led Western powers should be a cause for profound concern to the US and its allies. Barack Obama’s “Peace in Our Time” deal with the Islamic Republic makes former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain’s agreement with Nazi Germany seem mild in comparison.

Dr. Harold Rhode served for 28 years as an analyst covering Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs at the US Department of Defense. Dan Diker hosts the National Security radio program at voiceofisrael.com. He is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Counter Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and a Foreign Policy Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

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