Iran Isn’t Eager to Reject the Nuclear Deal

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures in the Islamic Republic repeatedly threatened that, were America to withdraw from the nuclear agreement, their country would immediately do likewise and resume the activities the deal proscribed. In truth, write Yigal Carmon and A. Savyon, this threat has proved an empty one:

The Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, . . . in a speech following the U.S. withdrawal from the deal, did not announce that Iran was [itself] withdrawing, as he had stated in the past that he would if the U.S. did. Furthermore, he has given President Rouhani increasing room to maneuver in reaching new agreements with the Europeans. This was also Khamenei’s modus operandi when the agreement was accepted—he spoke against it at the same time as he approved it. Iran has no real tools to deal with the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement, or with the Europeans’ anticipated withdrawal from it as well, which may happen because they have no option. . . .

There has also been a shift in Iran’s position concerning its nuclear program and the resumption of its uranium enrichment in excess of the percentage permitted it by the nuclear deal. While prior to President Trump’s announcement [of American withdrawal], Iranian regime spokesmen had threatened to renew uranium enrichment, since the announcement the regime has taken no steps aimed at doing so, or at resuming activity in any other areas of its nuclear program.

Carmon and Savyon see similar timidity when it comes to tensions with Israel over Syria:

Iran is not ready for a widescale confrontation with Israel, and the steps it is taking in the hostilities are minimal. It has announced a policy of restraint, and has responded in measured fashion, one time only, to the serial Israeli attacks that caused Iranian loss of life and damage to Iranian battle arrays in Syria.

As on previous occasions, Iran is, for the time being, refraining from publishing any reports on the May 10 widescale Israeli attacks that struck as many as 50 Iranian targets in Syria. The Iranian media’s reports on the hail of Iranian rockets on Israeli military targets in the Golan Heights depict this as an operation carried out by the Syrian army, not by Iran, and in response to an Israeli attack that preceded it. Iran also is refraining, in its media, from presenting the Israeli attacks as a direct Israel-Iran confrontation. As far as Iran is concerned, any postponement of all-out confrontation with Israel is preferable, because Iran has not yet completed all steps of its deployment in the region, and U.S. forces still remain in Syria.

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy