In recent years, President Barack Obama’s administration has shown a degree of flexibility with Tehran beyond the Iranian regime’s previous dreams. Obama’s White House drew up the nuclear deal while turning a blind eye to Iran’s aggressive regional behavior, with the Tehran regime having some success in persuading the US administration to deal favorably with the Islamic Republic. It did so largely by insisting that there were only two options Washington could pursue; either do a nuclear deal in Iran’s favor offering far more openness to Tehran or expect war. With the arrival of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president, some Iranians with close ties to the regime penetrated the heart of the Obama administration, promoting the Islamic Republic’s interests in Washington. I have personally written numerous articles on this subject, with no need to repeat their content here.
The recent US election was, in fact, a new battle for the Iranian lobby and those beneficiaries of the mullahs’ regime in Washington; during the election campaign, the regime’s admirers were concerned to vary degrees about statements by both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and it became apparent that they favored Clinton over Trump, hoping that the new administration would continue with Obama’s policies, albeit to a lesser degree.
On the night of the elections itself, for instance, while media were talking about Clinton’s progress on Trump, Trita Parsi, president of the Iranian-American National Council and the most prominent Iranian lobby symbols in Washington, said on his Twitter account: “Beyond future of the Republic, tonight we’ll also see if #IranDeal opponents in Congress will be punished & lose their jobs.”
Following the announcement of the election results and certainty of Trump’s arrival in the White House, Trita Parsi has suddenly stopped gloating, with his tension and anxiety levels markedly increasing. Indeed, he launched a blistering attack on US Congress members who expressed opposition to the nuclear deal or adopt stances, attitudes, and positions against the Iranian regime. In a desperate effort to find a crumb of comfort after the Republican Congress and the Senate secured all the seats and access to the White House, Parsi tweeted: “Wohooo! Senator @MarkKirk, a driving force for war & opponent of #IranDeal, just lost his Senate seat. Peace lobby won. War is bad politics.”
Meanwhile, an American researcher known to receive financial support from Iran and described in the research community in Washington as being more Iranian than the Iranians themselves tweeted, apparently in a state of despair “Forgive us, o world (for electing Trump).”
The Iranian regime’s lobbyists subsequently attempted to return to Trump’s remarks and interpret them in a less severe manner; among those who participated in a debate also on Twitter, a member of the US nuclear deal negotiation team confirmed that Trump did not say he would tear up the nuclear deal but would review it to ensure it is properly implemented. Trita Parsi then tweeted, saying, “During Obama’s chat with Trump, source tells me he impressed on Trump importance of keeping #IranDeal in tact.”
The National Iranian-American Council, meanwhile, issued a statement on the results of the election in which it said: “The Iran nuclear deal is in grave danger, and we owe it to one another, and also to future generations to ensure that radical policies are not enacted to target minorities or to remove the Iranian nuclear deal and start a disastrous war.” The council said in its statement, “We – as an organization with a fully proven track record and a vibrant community – are ready to mobilize and use all available resources to protect those rights and interests. The risks that we face now are harder than ever, and each of us must play their role and also be prepared to increase his or her readiness. The [NIAC] was founded in the wake of the events of 11 September when Iranians were detained in the United States because of their origins. It was the basis of the establishment and existence of a voice for the participation of our government because we are without a voice we cannot protect our rights. “
Parsi, the head of the Iranian lobby, returned again nearly a week after Trump’s win with an article in “Foreign Policy” magazine, which looked like he galvanized and gathered some of his strength and tried to warn of the consequences of any Western withdrawal from the nuclear deal, writing, “The United States cannot alone nullify or modify the agreement without violating international law, and any effort to disrupt the convention or even renegotiate it will isolate the United States, not Iran.”
Parsi warned that there might be a vicious cycle working against supporters of the agreement with Iran, though if Rouhani loses the elections, then the deal will lose one of its parties who strongly supports the nuclear deal, which guarantees Tehran’s commitment to this agreement. Even if the lack of effectiveness of the easing of sanctions does not affect the re-election of Rouhani, there is a growing possibility that Tehran is seeking to get out of the agreement whenever the restrictions imposed on the nuclear deal in such a situation do not allow him to defend it politically. “He further cautioned that this would result in more pressure on the new US administration and efforts to influence American public opinion.
Parsi further suggested that the Obama administration had succeeded to some extent in the formation of a strong coalition against Iran after convincing the international community that Iran was wrong for not cooperating with the West over its nuclear program. At present, he asserted, Iran is not seeking to dismantle the agreement or renegotiate it, although Trump and the Republican Party are. Parsi continuously attempted to promote Iran as an invaluable partner for the US in several areas, including the fight against terrorism, writing, “If the priority is the defeat of [the so-called ‘Islamic State’] in the region, this requires not only Russia and Iran but also requires that the nuclear deal is maintained to avoid the deterioration of relations with Tehran which inevitably will affect the fight against the extremist group.”
The advent of the new Republican administration is expected to drastically weaken and reduce the role of the NIAC team led by Parsi, with real and drastic changes predicted in the council’s management and membership, with the Iranian community in the US mostly viewing it with contempt as a tool of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran, which has been able to gain access to the corridors of power in Washington due to its close ties to the Iranian Foreign Minister.
Finally, while it is almost certain that Trump will not immediately make any move to cancel or tear up Obama’s Iran deal, his administration may well be far more stringent in monitoring the Iranian regime and ensuring Tehran’s compliance with all the terms of the deal. The new US administration is also extremely unlikely indeed to adhere to the most clandestine agreements between Obama and the Iranian regime.
We can also expect to see a far more robust reaction from the USA against the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile tests, which are regarded as a flagrant violation of the nuclear deal.
Opinions in this article reflect the writer’s point of view, not necessarily the view of The Arabain GCIS