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Iranian Foreign Minister’s Magic Act Falls Flat

Iranian Foreign Minister’s Magic Act Falls Flat

Sunday, 5 May, 2019 - 10:30
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in New York on the pretext of attending UN meetings but used the opportunity to visit US media, intellectual and research institutions in an attempt to induce the elites there to agree with his country’s stance.

However, the truth is that Zarif needed this visit to fix his broken image inside Iran itself. The foreign minister wanted to prove that he is a “shrewd dealer” who can make the West buy anything — as he did with the EU and the Barack Obama administration in the past. But this time, and faced with strong Republican figures, he cannot succeed without making genuine concessions.

From his numerous dialogues, I have chosen to discuss his speech at the Asia Society in New York and his YouTube interview. It is not difficult to discern the motives of his propaganda campaign in the US. Iran is going through a difficult stage in its history owing to harsh US economic sanctions, and growing internal protests over wars and poverty.

In a lengthy speech, Zarif claimed there was a conspiracy against Tehran by leaders he referred to as the B team — Mohammed bin Salman, Mohammed bin Zayed, Benjamin Netanyahu and John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser. He claimed they were plotting something against his country before the US presidential election (maybe so that Trump would win). Zarif thinks that by spreading suspicion, he can divide the pro-Trump bloc.

There is no doubt that Trump’s policy is in the interest of the US and the region’s countries because Washington’s announced goal is suitable for all, which is to force Iran to stop launching wars and supporting terrorism and turn into a peace-loving state.

Zarif wants to divert attention from discussing the core issue. He completely neglected discussing the Trump administration’s demands, the first of which is that Iran permanently — not temporarily, as Obama demanded — end uranium enrichment for military purposes. The second demand is that Iran ceases its aggressive and militaristic activities in the region.

Like a magician, Zarif wants to divert people’s attention to other matters. The real issue is Iran’s plan to dominate Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Gulf, and Yemen. The commander of the Iranian Quds Force runs the battles in Damascus and Beirut, and tens of thousands of fighters were sent there by Iran. Regional countries, as well as the international community, are worried about this terrible invasion.

Paradoxically, the nuclear agreement played an enabling role by lifting the trade embargo and ignoring the military expansion in the region, in addition to rewarding the regime with more than $100 billion.

Zarif complained of a conspiracy, quoting the response of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when asked if there was a plot in Iran. Pompeo had said: “Even if we did, would I be telling you guys about it?”

The Iranian foreign minister insisted that Pompeo’s response indicated that there was a conspiracy, as he said before, that the B team was plotting against Iran. He did not discuss the reasons that brought the situation to this dangerous stage, whether there was a conspiracy, a plot, or only a blockade. If his regime accepted only two conditions — the cancelation of the military enrichment project and the aggressive policy — the crisis would have ended.

Zarif knows his limitations in Tehran. He cannot and does not have any influence on strategic decisions within the Tehran regime. He is an employee who has been marginalized to the point that he was not included in meetings of senior leaders, such as receiving the Syrian president. His response was to resign through his Twitter account — when Twitter is banned in Iran except for the regime’s leaders — so that his resignation took on an international dimension, and the regime was forced to retreat.

There is more to the story.

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