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Iran in the Taliban’s Footsteps

Iran in the Taliban’s Footsteps

Wednesday, 29 June, 2022 - 05:30
Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

The Qatari Foreign Ministry announced that Doha welcomes the hosting of a round of indirect talks between Washington and Tehran, and sponsored by the European Union coordinator, over reviving the nuclear deal.

The Iranian negotiating team’s media aide said “Iran chose Qatar because it is a friendly nation.”

Iran is now following in the Taliban’s footsteps that agreed to have Doha as the headquarters of negotiations between it and the United States. Those talks were followed by the unforgettable American withdrawal from Afghanistan, whose fallout is evident to this day and will be felt in the future.

The question here is not about Qatar’s role, but rather what the American administration can offer in the form of concessions and what Iran can present given that time is in neither side’s favor.

In his last statement before the end of his duties, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said: “We will not negotiate over nuclear issues that were addressed in Vienna. We will tackle pending issues in regards to lifting the embargo and sanctions.”

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” he added.

The question here is: What is “everything”? Is it the lifting of sanctions first? Or removing the Iranian Revolutionary Guards from the terrorism list? Or more?

Perhaps an agreement may be reached in Doha, but timing is not on any party’s side, or on whatever may be agreed upon. Can the Biden administration, for example, offer real concessions in spite of the opposition of his party as the Democrats gear up for Midterm elections that they may lose?

Can the Biden administration, for example, remove the Revolutionary Guards from the terrorism list after it pledged not to? Would the president make such a gamble at this time knowing that should the Republicans gain control of Congress, such a move would be difficult to carry out?

Time is not the only obstacle facing Washington. Even Tehran has gone too far in stalling over the Vienna agreement. It wasted an opportunity when the US was eager to complete the agreement in any way possible.

There are many factors in the region that must not be overlooked, including the influential Israeli role and demands of the Arab Gulf states. These factors will become more evident at the Saudi-American and Gulf-American summits set for Jeddah.

As it stands, nothing is clear in these Doha negotiations. We must remember that the Taliban’s negotiations with Washington in Qatar lasted years. The problem with the Iran nuclear negotiations is that they are open-ended, which allowed Iran to maneuver and harm the American administration.

We must also remember that Iran’s worst enemy is Iran itself because it is incapable of taking serious decisions that can assure its surroundings and return it to the international arena as an effective country that respects rules and laws.

Perhaps an agreement may be reached, but it will be weak because the timing and circumstances do not favor Iran and the American administration, especially since Plan B has been set in motion in Washington, at Israel’s behest and because of Iran’s manipulation.

In short, even if an agreement were to be reached in Doha, its implementation will be doubtful because the timing doesn’t lie in any party’s favor, regardless of their intentions.

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