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Iran keeps open mind on Donald Trump

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | November 17, 2016

On Wednesday, for the first time, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his views on the US elections of November 8. The Tehran Times quoted Khamenei as saying,

  • Unlike some of those in the world who have either been bemoaning or celebrating the results of the American elections, we are neither bemoaning nor celebrating because the results make no difference to us. Nor do we have worries, and by the grace of God, we are ready to encounter any likely incident.

Khamenei said that from a historical perspective,

  • We have no judgment about this election because America is the same America, and over the past 37 years either of the two parties which has been in office not only has done no good (to the Iranian nation), but has always been an evil to the Iranian nation.

Khameini downgraded the significance of the US election and stressed that Iran’s focus should be on promoting and preserving the “internal strength of the establishment” and nurturing and preserving the “revolutionary spirit and orientation.”

The Supreme Leader’s remarks come amidst furious speculations in the American media, driven mostly by pro-Israeli Jewish lobby, to the effect that the Iran nuclear deal (known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) faces the prospect of sudden death any moment after January 20. The Israeli intelligence website DebkaFile, which routinely disseminates sensational items on Iran, even reported that Trump is contemplating a military attack on Iran as soon as he moves into the Oval Office.

Therefore, Khamenei’s indifference is striking. It must be noted, though, that Khamenei made no reference to US president-elect Donald Trump, directly or indirectly. What does that imply?

Simply put, Iran is not worried, since Iran does not expect anything dramatically different in the US policies toward Iran. The ‘psy war’ by the Israeli lobby has failed to have an effect. The Iranians would know that Israelis habitually create larger-than-life image of themselves, but the plain truth is that Trump has not been a candidate sponsored by the Jewish lobby in America. In fact, Jewish circles have attributed to him traces of ‘anti-semitism’, Trump’s son-in-law’s Jewish ethnicity notwithstanding.

Can it be that Iran has lines of communication open to Trump’s transition team? Now, that isn’t such an outrageous thought as it may seem at first sight, because, simply put, that is the way Iranian diplomacy always worked. Iran is a tireless communicator. A clutch of ‘red lines’ apart (such as the ‘Zionists’ or Daesh and al-Qaeda),  Iran’s diplomacy is willing to engage even adversaries or detractors.

What must be noted in this context is that two key personalities in the Iranian regime, both enormously prestigious and powerful within Iran and in the outside world, have hinted in the recent days that Tehran keeps an open mind on Trump – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the Speaker of the Majlis (parliament) Ali Larijani.

Zarif said on November 11 that in his estimation, the Trump administration will eventually accept the landmark nuclear deal “once the dust has settled and people are briefed about the realities of the region and the world.” He added, “It will be in the interest of everybody to remain committed in practice to the JCPOA. But if there are doubts about the implementation, then Iran will have its own options as well.”

Zarif is a highly experienced career diplomat who served for long years in New York and enjoys extensive contacts with American political elites and the foreign-policy community. Zarif implied here that Tehran is inclined to take much of what Trump had said on the campaign trail regarding Iran as the stuff of grandstanding and politicking, and far from the final word on the subject.

Equally, the speaker of the Iranian Majlis Ali Larijani’s remarks in Tehran last Sunday to a big gathering of some 100 parliamentarians merits even more careful attention. Larijani cautioned the Iranian religious and political elites against making intemperate remarks about the US president-elect. In a highly nuanced remark, he counselled,

  • Analyses and remarks about the U.S. president-elect should be more mature, and hasty remarks and premature judgments should be avoided until the Foreign Ministry takes a transparent stance.

No doubt, Larijani made a hugely significant remark. Larijani is a veteran diplomat and statesman of many battles with ‘Great Satan’, and chooses his words with utmost care. In effect, he pleaded for patience till such time as when Zarif could take a “transparent stance”.

Larijani spoke in the context of some flippant remarks attributed to influential clerics lately scoffing at Trump. Evidently, he has restrained them from muddying the waters and cautioned them against making “premature judgments”. Larijani is close to Supreme Leader Khamenei.

The salience of what Larijani said is that it is critically important that Zarif gets a free hand to conduct diplomacy optimally in a dynamic situation in a high-stakes game when the contours of the transition in Washington are far from crystallized.

November 17, 2016 - Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , ,

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