It makes no sense to hurry the talks through in Vienna when Khamenei has made it clear that he has allowed for the Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, to be the main candidate for the hardliners, Martin Jay writes.
The so-called ‘Iran Deal’, more formerly known by its acronym ‘JCPOA’ is, despite western media’s upbeat reporting, far from being resuscitated. In fact, in many ways, the talks in Vienna now are merely a side show or a cunning distraction as part of a process which will give Iran an even stronger hand to play in the coming months and years.
Events unfolding in Iran recently have shown us that the moderate camp which included players like Rouhani and Zarif, is more or less to be snuffed out in the presidential elections. A number of moderate leaders who presented their credentials have been rejected by Iran’s Guardian Council, which technically speaking is independent from the Supreme Leader, but in reality is an extension of his power.
What is left is five hardliners and a token representation of others who everyone knows are there to endorse the farcical process.
Joe Biden’s camp in Vienna will note this recent development for sure. But will also see that the Supreme Leader recently signed off a one-month extension for the IAEA until June 24th, which signals quite clearly that Ayatollah Khamenei believes that a nuclear deal with sanctions lifted is not only a good move for Iran but one which can be achieved.
The problem for Biden’s team is that the thinking is flawed and only makes the talks harder, longer and more complicated. The transition to a new team led by a hardliner president will feel like more of a Mission Impossible, once the deal is presented for all to see: lift all sanctions, no conditions.
And add to that, compensate us for the Trump stunt in 2015 which had a dire effect on the economy and take the Iranian elite guard off the U.S. terrorist watch list.
Khamenei, despite being a hardliner whose entire raison d’etre is anti-American sees a great opportunity to turn the country’s economy around using Biden’s zealous need for the JCPOA to be reinstated. But his strategy is to use an infamous hardliner President to do it, rather than the current administration. However, his hardliner president will have no problem with the deal not being reached.
It makes no sense to hurry the talks through in Vienna when Khamenei has made it clear that he has allowed for the Judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, to be the main candidate for the hardliners.
Raisi – which in Arabic ironically sounds similar to the word president – has changed his position on the JCPOA recently, which is the most lucid signal yet where the talks are heading and, perhaps more poignantly, how much higher the stakes will be raised.
It is of no consequence now whether a deal is even struck between Biden’s people and the Iranian team in Vienna as, in reality, they are not representative of the regime but merely actors playing a role, designed to appease the world’s media that Iran is open to negotiating. Their role, like KGB-trained eastern bloc spies, is to keep the other side talking so as to see what the thinking is. Just look for Javad Zarif, who played a central role in the deal being signed in 2015. The foreign minister, who more or less took enough rope to hang himself when he was recently caught on tape complaining about the regime, has been cast into the political wilderness and has been allowed to indulge himself with a farewell tour of EU destinations. He was not even a contender for President, as many hardliners blame him for the collapse of the JCPOA and believe that the original terms were not strong enough. They see him as weak and westernised and very much part of the problem that the regime has, rather than anything resembling a solution. They believe it’s time to get tough and they will never have a better opportunity to do so, with Joe Biden in the Oval Office.