Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Iran Is Dazed and Confused

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian’s speech at the second Baghdad conference in Jordan made clear to all the countries in the region, as well as those who engage with it, that Iran is dazed and confused.

The foreign minister was giving his speech in French before giving it again in Arabic, unsettling the translators at the summit. Indeed, he behaved as though he did not trust them and wanted to ensure that everyone received his message. He asked attendees to build bridges of trust while he did not even trust the translators.

Abdollahian discussed the dialogue between the countries of the region, countering terrorism, and the role Iraq could play in consolidating this rapprochement. He then brought up Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, calling them martyrs and “mujahideen.”

Everyone knows that the assassinated former head of the Quds Force, Soleimani, led the destruction of the region from Iraq to Syria and Yemen to Lebanon. He led Iran’s terrorist activities in the region until the US killed him and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Iran’s man in Iraq.

And so, what we heard in Jordan embodied the mullah regime, which says one thing and does the opposite. The last of these contradictions was the Iranian foreign minister calling on Western leaders to revive the nuclear deal.

Alright, Iran’s hypocrisy is clear, and it has left Iran dazed and confused. The question now is: why? The answer is obvious. First, saying one thing and doing the opposite has come naturally to Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. Tehran has always seen deception as part and parcel of diplomacy.

Second, Iran is currently in a difficult position because of the mass protests challenging the regime’s authority domestically. The protests began almost three months ago, and they have begun to rattle the regime. In contrast with previous protests, which the regime managed to suppress in 2009, 2017, and 2019, through repression and violence, these protests continue.

These protests by the people of Iran are different. They are deeper. Iranians of both genders from various segments of society and of all ages have been taking part. It is no easy feat to bring all these groups together under a single demand. Though they do not have a leader, they have been calling for the downfall of the Wilayat al-Faqih regime through demands that undercut its fundamentals.

The mullah regime thus now wants to retrieve the legitimacy and popularity it has lost through dialogue with the countries of the region, the United States and the West. In other words, the regime wants to make up for what it has taken from the Iranian people through foreign relations, and this is a sign of weakness and that its legitimacy has withered away.

Some in both the region and the West could perhaps claim that it is not the time to exploit the weakness of the regime by imposing greater concessions. This is misguided. Neither the region nor the West should become a partner in spilling the blood of the people of Iran.

The objective of dialogue with Iran should not be to take the weight off the regime or rehabilitate it. Instead, we should seize this opportunity to clip its claws and prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons and clamping down on its people.

We should also have to force it to stop with its ballistic weapons, drones, and proxy militias. Here, one could say that this is impossible. That is true, and we thus argue that dialogue with a dazed and confused mullah regime is pointless.