NEO – Iran’s Nuclear Program: Who’s in charge in Washington

The dancers
The dance of diplomacy


Iran’s Nuclear Program: Who’s in charge in Washington

… by Viktor Titov,   …  with New Eastern Outlook, Moscow


Seven golden domes of St. Petersburg
Seven golden domes of St. Petersburg

[ Editor’s note: The election of Barack Obama in 2008 with 53 percent of the vote represented America’s wish for a new direction. Sixty-nine million people voted him into office with the hope that a relative outsider could turn the ship of state around. But the ship of state is an unwieldy vehicle, as evidenced by the ever-increasing number of Presidential directives in each successive administration. 

After six years with our presidents, regardless of how charming they are — and they are always chosen for their salesmanship — Americans begin to feel like we’ve eaten one too many jellybeans, that we have somehow O.D’d on one philosophy, and we are belly up on the floor. After this, we historically have thrown the baby out with the bathwater in the mid-term election of the president’s second term, just when it looks like some progress might be made. God forbid that progress should be made, either for the Left or the Right, false dialogs as they are, because the illusion of taxation with representation must be maintained on several levels.

So what is really going on? We are aware that small potatoes have been removed from the influence cycle, and that only three or four big players get a say in US or global politics, and that America reports to Someone Else. Or something else. Even Netanyahu, America’s handler, jets in to Rome on occasion at critical junctures, as if attending an event with lions at the Colosseum.

When thinking about Catherine Ashton’s efforts over the past year in the P5+1 talks, and seeing the expressions on the participants’ faces this past month, I was reminded of Tony Arata’s beautiful lyrics in The Dance …

Butterfly mitosis - the chrysalis of progress
Butterfly mitosis – the chrysalis of progress

Looking back on the memory of the dance we shared, For a moment all the world was right. And now I’m glad I didn’t know the way it all would end, the way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.

Each participating country in the nuclear talks has its own swirling dance-like fractals that drive its internal politics, but there are pre-set teeth and gears that are driving the international politics at a higher level — oil, finance, currency fluctuations, and the ever-present mess in Afghanistan, which Iran might be able to help America with, ever so subtly.

Iran’s educated middle-class dare not grow too affluent and provide stress on Iran’s religious power structure that is so rooted in tradition. Hence, the external economic sanctions serve a purpose in their internal domestic affairs, as they try to calibrate their society’s responses. 

There seemed to be a lot of group hugging going on at the P5+1 talks this past year, a human longing for friendship and peace, even amidst recalcitrant economic tensions.  In the playbook of The 300, hugs and oneness are good, … but only after something akin to WW3 thins the herd …so it’s premature. Iran must play its part as The Other. America must read its script as The Good Cop … We’ll take a little intermission, and then the play will begin again.

We hope you love Viktor Titov’s analysis as much as we didErica P. Wissinger and Jim W. Dean ]

Ashton with Kerry


–  First published  November 27, 2014  –

Saudi Arabia RiyadhVienna, just what everyone expected to happen happened, when for the tenth time, Iran and the “six” international mediators failed to reach consensus on a final agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme (INP). One of the main reasons for this was the powerful efforts of Riyadh and Tel Aviv to disrupt the agreement.

Just one day before the cut off date, 24 November, the preparation of the “fallback” became well known, which, in particular, provides that only the basic principles of the deal will be signed in the interim, but “some controversial details” will be subject to separate consultations. This wording “some controversial details” hides the main issue that once again caused the negotiation process to break down: withdrawing sanctions against Tehran.

Many people naively thought that the main confrontation at the negotiating table is taking place between Iran and the United States, and the actual closing of the “nuclear dossier” of Tehran only depends on Washington. Since the real role of the USA in everything associated with it has been well known for a long time, it is necessary to clearly understand what hindrances can be placed in way of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme by Washington’s main allies in the Middle East – Israel and Saudi Arabia. Obama has once again failed to overcome these obstacles.

For the long time being the two “pillars” of the US presence in the Middle East, Tel Aviv and Riyadh, for all of their common interests on Iran, have still tried to demonstrate a certain distance between themselves. After all an open alliance between the Wahhabi Arab monarchies, even the self-proclaimed protector of all Muslims, and the Jewish state, which is “repressing the Palestinians” and occupying part of the Arab territories, would look extremely odious. Everyone understands this, but remains silent.

UN Ambassador Susan Rice
UN Ambassador Susan Rice

With his inconsistent and adventurous politics Barack Obama has turned the Middle East into a zone of ongoing conflict and unmanaged chaos that threatens the national security both of Saudi Arabia and Israel. The strategic partnership between Washington and the two states is now at risk due to Obama’s stupidity.

The White House’s stated intention to normalise relations with Iran would mean canceling the results of Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy efforts of the last decades. “Colour” revolutions in the Arab world, the war in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, several coups in Egypt, instability in Lebanon, armed conflicts in the Palestinian Authority have clearly identified the spheres of interest for Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have had to endure ambitions of regional leadership by Erdogan’s Turkey, a NATO member. But the assumption of the same role by Tehran, demonstrated in the conclusion of conflict with the United States and the continuation of its nuclear programme – this would be too much for the Saudis and Israelis. After all, the entire map of the region would have to be redrawn.

They devoted a place for Iran a long time ago – this is the place of an enemy, a revolutionary Shiite expansionist, a threat to the energy security of the West, etc. Especially when there are hundreds of billions of dollars on this map, rich oil and gas reserves, financial interests of American and European business, and the very survival of the Al Saud dynasty. And Saudi Arabia and Israel succeeded, albeit at the last minute.

Saudi Arabia threw on the table the most important trump card to influence the US – it simply threatened to stop oil dumping against Russia and thereby stop the degradation of the Russian economy, which would mean a shameful failure for Washington in Ukraine and the area of the EU. Over a few hours the Saudis suggested to the White House that on November 27 at the meeting of OPEC ministers they would go with Moscow’s proposal to cut oil production. And it worked.

On November 25 in Vienna, Saudi Arabia has officially announced to Russia, Venezuela and a number of OPEC countries that it won’t be cutting its oil output. Saudi stayed true to their word on Iran. The Republicans, long-standing and reliable partners of Riyadh, gained additional leverage after congressional elections over the White House and its “lamest of lame ducks”: Obama and Kerry. Although they were already limping – for instance, in Iraq when ISIS was on the verge of taking Baghdad.

“The White House: I don't know whether it's the finest public housing in American or the crown jewel of the prison system” -- President Bill Clinton
“The White House… I don’t know whether it’s the finest public housing in America or the crown jewel of the prison system.” — President Bill Clinton

So the President and US Secretary of State, waiting out the rest of their time in the White House, will not have the final word on the Iranian issue. When faced by an ultimatum from Israel and Saudi Arabia, they simply surrendered.

The next few months will bring nothing new: either Iran will have to give up “in full ” by capitulating on all counts both its nuclear dossier and sovereignty over oil and gas, or Obama will have to take a suicidal step and give in to Tehran. And then leave the White House early after his impeachment.

It is unlikely that the Iranian leadership will raise the white flag and accept the role of a US-Israeli-Saudi puppet. Sanctions, of course, are badly affecting Iran. Last year, Iran’s GDP decreased by 5.8% and the country has yet to overcome the recession. Iranian public and private companies are able to sell crude oil on foreign markets, such as in China and other Asian countries. However, their partners are in many cases the target of Western sanctions and bear financial losses.

This has led to a significant reduction in demand for Iranian oil in the markets. In addition, Iran’s access to credit in international financial markets has been almost completely blocked. Its billions of dollars in Western bank accounts have been frozen, and attracting foreign investment in the Iranian economy is extremely difficult.

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond

Iranian society is now deeply split on the issue of lifting sanctions. Many ordinary Iranians are extremely tired of the economic difficulties caused by them. But in political circles, even those in opposition, there is an understanding that Iran cannot afford to completely abandon its nuclear programme. Otherwise – goodbye independence. The events surrounding Ukraine demonstrated this once again. Many people understand the fact that the West is deliberately dragging out negotiations in an attempt to create an internal transformation of the regime towards a pro-Western, or “colour” revolution in Iran.

All this means that in the coming months the Iranian elite will fiercely bargain on the final wording of the future agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme. However, it is in favour of the Conservatives that Iran still received an ​​important gesture from the West.

On 24 November in Vienna, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that every month until the end of June 2015 Iran would receive $700 million from frozen accounts as part of the extension of the interim agreement on its nuclear programme. A political agreement on the Iranian nuclear programme is expected to be achieved by March next year. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also spoke in favour of an early conclusion of the agreement without waiting until 30 June.

The passions in Iranian society are affected by the split within the ruling class. The intention of the former President of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stand for election to the Majlis (unicameral National Parliament) has invoked resistance from President Hassan Rouhani and his entourage. One cannot exclude the fact that Ahmadinejad will try to put himself forward at the next presidential election in Iran. And as the date of the next parliamentary elections to be held in March 2016 approaches, the domestic political struggle in Iran will escalate.

"Our Jewish countrymen are a recognised minority in Iran & have an active representative in the parliament," tweeted Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Zarif.
“Our Jewish countrymen are a recognised minority in Iran & have an active representative in the parliament,” tweeted Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Zarif.

Whatever happens now in Iran, it is naive to believe that Tehran will completely abandon the enrichment of fissile material. The question about the number of nuclear facilities and centrifuges in which such enrichment is conducted is very important, but from the point of view of Tehran, it is not the main issue.

The main thing that Iran is seeking from the Western powers is the complete cancellation of all previously imposed sanctions against it in exchange for certain guarantees from Tehran on the nuclear issue. In this regard the leadership of Iran calculates that the country is in a favourable geopolitical situation, because the West desperately needs the support of Iran’s opposition to Sunni extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Only Iranian leaders should not forget who now manages the activities of the White House on Iran. And we must remember that to maintain control of key points in the region, the economy and the US military machine is simply not up to the task. That is why Washington has only one option: to return to the long-proven scheme, in which police functions are performed by regional players, which today are Saudi Arabia and Israel. It is interesting to know whether Tehran understands this.


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Viktor Titov, Ph.D. (Candidate of Historical Sciences), is a political commentator on the Middle East, exclusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook“.

Editing:   Jim W. Dean and Erica P. Wissinger




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