Rouhani and his shy, sweet smile

Rouhani probably even believes that Iran’s image would benefit from an Israeli attack. Then he’d be able to flash his sweet, shy smile at the world.

By
November 21, 2013 22:09
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani on the phone 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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International media were brimming with articles this week about the P5+1 group negotiations with Iran. Some members supported signing an agreement, whereas others were against. But do any of us actually know what the status of the Iranian nuclear capability really is? When the “moderate” Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran this past summer, the US administration decided to use this event as an excuse to pursue dialogue with the Iranians, and thereby avoid having to make any decisions regarding military action, which Barack Obama was rather keen on avoiding.

The EU also recognized this as a good opportunity to take the lead in mediation talks with Iran, and even in Israel, some people expressed hope that the new Rouhani regime might be the sign of positive change.

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To some degree, the entire world bought Rouhani’s story – that he was democratically elected, and that he was a moderate leader who would lead Iran on a new path and renew relations with western powers. But the world ignored the fact that the president-elect would never be able to stray from the policies set by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and these policies have not changed one iota. Everyone just conveniently forgot that Rouhani had been one of the founding fathers, and risen up through the ranks, of the Iranian Islamic regime.

As I’ve written before, Rouhani is not exactly the symbol of moderation and pluralism. Although he has a doctoral degree in law and speaks a number of languages, he is still a religious cleric in all respects.

He was a member of the regime that came to power after the shah was overthrown in 1979.

He was responsible for the reorganization of the Iranian military and was appointed head of the Iranian Broadcasting Authority, and thereby was able to ensure that the only voice being heard throughout Iran was that of Khamenei.

Rouhani was the supreme leader’s representative on the National Security Committee, as well as the Iranian representative in nuclear talks with the West in 2003 to 2005. In these talks, Rouhani was viewed as relatively moderate and he even agreed to freeze Iranian uranium enrichment for a short time.



His opponents in the West claim that he is an expert negotiator, and that he is especially talented at carrying out negotiations for negotiations.

In other words, he expertly succeeds in endlessly drawing out discussions, which gives his country time to continue doing whatever it wants.

The real reason Rouhani won the election is that over the years he has always been associated with former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is also relatively moderate compared to the regime.

Despite statements Rouhani recently made, about his desire to move closer to the West and to hold successful negotiations, he still considers Israel to be the Great Satan that should be attacked in every way possible.

So what did Iran get in the end? A new brand, but from the same ayatollah production line. Presidentelect Rouhani is an excellent orator and is more moderate, yet he still represents Khamenei.

Only five months have passed since Rouhani was elected, and we are still in the exact same place as we were in the summer – which was Rouhani’s intention all along! We’ve been holding nice, gentle negotiations with the Iranians with the pastoral Swiss mountains in the background.

Rouhani has succeeded brilliantly with his simple, unsophisticated plan to lead the Americans to a situation in which their only options are either to negotiate or to carry out a military attack against Iran, which the Iranians know they would never do.

The French alone dared to stand up and yell out that “the Emperor isn’t wearing anything at all,” and thereby neutralize the ridiculousness of Secretary of State John Kerry’s smiles.

The Iranians have once again succeeded in doing exactly what they wanted to from the start; this is what Rohani does best. They dragged the Americans and Europeans to the negotiating table where they then engaged the latter in complicated and technical negotiations where they got bogged down in hundreds and thousands of items and conditions which led to the need to schedule additional, future meetings. The sides are now focusing all of their time and energy on finding mutually good times to meet, and which items they should focus on first.

The Iranians are displaying an immense amount of good will and willingness to negotiate with the West while they continue to enrich uranium and develop additional nuclear facilities. The Americans are therefore able to show the world that they are taking dramatic steps against the Iranians, the Europeans are happy to jump on the wagon for a free trip, and everyone’s having a swell time enjoying the Swiss hospitality.

But nothing’s actually being accomplished there! There are no deadlines, no ultimatum, and no additional sanctions. In fact, the opposite is true – the sanctions have been eased. The French realized this, as did the US Congress, which has openly voiced its opposition.

It is crystal clear that the negotiation process that is currently being carried out in Geneva is not fitting for Israel and does not meet our needs. However, Israel’s options are extremely limited; it can come out in support of negotiations with Iran and the sanctions imposed on it, or express dissatisfaction with it and insist on holding a tougher stance on Iran, including a possible Israeli attack on Iran.

The IDF is powerful enough to plan and carry out an air attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. It is perhaps also true that the Israeli prime minister has taken a strong stance on the Iran issue and is less forgiving of others who are carrying out negotiations. But we must understand what the ramifications of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilitates would be. Israel does not have the capability to completely destroy the Iranian’s nuclear capabilities.

At most, Israel could harm parts of their infrastructure, deter them from certain actions, and maybe delay their program. However, the Americans – actually the entire world – would stand against us and then we would be the ones being isolated and suffering from sanctions.

Rouhani probably even believes that Iran’s image would benefit from an Israeli attack. Then he’d be able to flash his sweet, shy smile at the world while Iran quietly continues carrying out their nuclear plan while the rest of the world is busy berating Israel.

The writer is a former brigadier-general who served as a division head in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). Translated by Hannah Hochner.


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