Making Peace With the West Is an Illusion
The editorial of Jahan Sanat explains why it is wishful thinking to hope for Iran and the West, particularly the United States, to make peace.
The Iranian establishment adheres to its foreign policy principle of enmity toward the United States and is ready to pay any price to defend this principle, and it hopes that the global balance of power will shift, leading to the United States’ defeat in the short run and the loss of its international primacy.
This is the main principle in Iran’s foreign policy but has led to several fallouts. One of the consequences of this foreign policy is the subjection of Iranian businesses and the macro-economy to Western sanctions.
The Iranian government hopes to use domestic potential as well as Chinese economic power to resist sanctions pressures. But the truth is that since 2018, this has not happened and Iranian citizens have been facing insufferable pressures.
The other impact of Iran’s endless enmity with the United States is the Iranian government’s considerable investments in military arsenal to protect itself and its borders. Iran has also established relationships with certain groups – the so-called resistance groups – in other countries and has helped them grow stronger. It has also signed strategic agreements with Russia.
Iranian citizens and social groups must not have any shred of doubt as to the unchangeability of this principle in Iran’s foreign policy. They must consider this as a fact when they want to plan for their own business. They must give up on the idea of peace. Experience shows that in the past 10 years, the Iranian establishment, time and again, has come very close to making peace with the US political establishment, but always pulls back.
This fact must be accepted and Iranian citizens must find ways of adapting themselves to this situation. Any hope for peace with the West in the short run is just an illusion.
Waiting for Release of Forex Resources
The editorial of Etemad argues that even if Iran’s frozen assets are released, this incident will have a temporary impact on the capital markets, but will not significantly decrease the skyrocketing inflation rate.
The news of the imminent release of $24 billion of Iran’s frozen assets in Iraq and South Korea, as well as funds under Iran’s special drawing rights in the IMF, prove that the claims of Ebrahim Raisi’s government regarding the sanctions having no impact on the country are not true. And now the government is after settling the issue of releasing Iran’s frozen assets.
Besides, there are reports of behind-the-scenes talks regarding the nuclear deal. In other words, they are seeking to de-escalate tensions which is the right thing to do. But it must be noted that unlike the previous claims made by the Iranian authorities, we cannot close our eyes to the problems that the sanctions have created for the country.
Of course, the release of Iran’s frozen assets in this manner was expected, which will have a temporary impact on the Iranian market. With the release of these resources, the government may manage to cover its expenses for which it does not have any real revenues. These resources can to some extent compensate for the budget deficit, and the price of the dollar will most likely decrease for some time.
But it is unlikely that this incident will result in a drop in the inflation rate. It is possible that in the short run, the increase in the inflation rate might stop, but in the long run, inflation will not decline. This is because the main issue is the sanctions and as far as it is not fully resolved, incidents like releasing Iran’s frozen assets will only give some temporary relief to the capital markets.
Commodities markets, however, will continue to suffer from skyrocketing inflation, unless the sanctions are fully lifted and the sale of oil is normalized. As a matter of fact, releasing the frozen assets will have an impact on the forex and gold markets for a short time.
Zarif’s Skillfulness and His Critics’ Frustration
The editorial of Jahan Sanat reviews Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent interview held on Clubhouse.
Former Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has demonstrated in different ways that he is an experienced, first-rate politician. He is a diplomat who is not a radical fundamentalist but has never given up on his principles and has been committed to them within an exact, clear framework. He knows his position and does not overestimate or underestimate himself.
Zarif was one the first Iranian politicians who realized the potential of social media and used it to advance his political projects and goals. And more importantly, he has been very popular in cyberspace.
In his first interview after his tenure, the former Iranian foreign minister interestingly chose Clubhouse so that once again he can prove his views are different from other Iranian politicians. This interview triggered heated arguments across social media networks which spilled over to the Iranian media.
In this interview, Zarif responded to those who say his accomplishments, particularly in the nuclear negotiations, were not enough during his tenure by saying that “politics is the science of what is possible, not the science of wishful thinking. I had just one vote and the decisions were made on a higher level of decision-making.”
Zarif went on to talk about important issues including the nuclear talks, the JCPOA, regional issues, and behind-the-scenes events regarding measures taken against him and his goals. He urged that all over the world, the Foreign Ministry implements decisions and “in Iran it is the leader who makes decisions.”
Regarding Donald Trump’s request to meet with him in the White House’s Oval Office, Zarif said “I knew the meeting with Trump would be my political suicide, but I was ready to do it. Yet I had to coordinate. Later I found out that my request was rejected at lower levels of decision-making.”
Zarif’s remarks in his Clubhouse interview were viewed more than 12.5 million times on Telegram in the first 18 hours after release, which shows their significance notwithstanding public agreement or disagreement with his views.
Hope for Reviving the JCPOA
The editorial of Arman Melli, penned by Iran’s former Ambassador to the UK Jalal Sadatian, explains why there is new hope for reviving the nuclear deal (JCPOA).
It seems that some developments regarding the JCPOA are underway. About two months ago, the strategy of “freeze-for-freeze” was brought up by the media with respect to the nuclear deal and the disputed cases between Iran and the United States, as well as Iran and the IAEA. Once again, media outlets released different reports and analyses about Iran and the United States returning to the nuclear deal.
But now the momentum is changing and in recent months, the relationship between Iran and Saudi Arabia was resumed, while there is the possibility of expansion of relations with other Arab countries including Egypt. In the meantime, Iran’s embassy in Saudi Arabia was reopened and Saudi Arabia’s embassy too will reopen.
Reviving the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran has impacted other issues, so much so that Oman’s sultan visited Iran with messages from the West.
Furthermore, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi has expressed optimism about settling some of the issues between Iran and the IAEA. There is also news related to releasing Iran’s forex in some countries like South Korea and Iraq. Moreover, it has been announced that Iran can use its own resources in the IMF to provide for its own requirements. According to another report, altogether $24 billion is heading Iran’s way.
On the other hand, Iran has stated that it has not given any other drones to the Russians, trying to adopt a neutral position on the Russia-Ukraine war.
Putting all these issues side by side, one can gather that probably some agreement has been reached about reviving the JCPOA, though its results have not been announced yet. Now we must wait and see if this process will lead to any palpable results in providing for Iran’s national interests, or once again domestic and foreign opponents of the JCPOA will sabotage or undermine it.
There are signs indicating renewed resolve for reviving the JCPOA, and now we must wait and see if both sides are committed to this.
Iran Confirms “Indirect” Negotiations With the United States in Oman
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Nasser Kana’ani confirmed the reports regarding negotiations between Iran and the United States in Muscat, Oman, alleging that these negotiations have not been held “secretly.”
He also pointed to talks about a prisoner swap deal, saying it might happen in the near future and the Iranian government is waiting for the negotiations to come to fruition.
These remarks were made the day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stated in his meeting with a group of managers from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran that “with preserving Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, there is no problem with [reaching] an agreement.”
Kana’ani in his press conference confirmed that “our negotiating team is seriously focused on the nuclear deal” and will continue to do so until reaching the desired result.
In his recent remarks, Khamenei urged that “they must do what must be done,” but must not “accept anything more than the safeguards rules” of the IAEA.
Western media outlets reported in recent weeks that representatives of the United States and the Iranian government have held indirect talks centering around three main topics: the nuclear issue, the safeguards rules and the freeing of prisoners.
As for the possibility of updating the nuclear deal (JCPOA), Kana’ani underscored that “we are after the same previous JCPOA and nothing new is negotiable with the other side and the ongoing negotiations are within the framework of the previous JCPOA.”
With regard to a prisoner swap deal with the United States, Kana’ani said it all depends on the “good faith” of the other side, stating that Iran is “serious” in this regard.
Siamak Nemazi, Emad Sharghi and Morad Tahbaz are renowned Iranian-Americans who are imprisoned in Iran.
Based on the most recent report of IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to the agency’s Board of Governors, Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has increased 25% in the past three months.
In addition, Iran’s stockpile of 60% enriched uranium is increasing and currently it is nearly enough for building two nuclear bombs.
Molavi Abdul-Hamid Reacts to IRGC Hypersonic Missile: Instead of Weapons, Alleviate People’s Hunger
While the Iranian government has recently spread propaganda regarding an alleged hypersonic missile, Molavi Abdul-Hamid, one of Iran’s influential Sunni leaders, has asked Iranian leaders to find solutions for the Iranian people’s grave economic situation, instead of spending heavily on military programs.
In his weekly Friday mass prayer in the eastern city of Zahedan, Hamid stated, “We are happy that advanced weapons for defense are unveiled, but will be happier if people’s hunger is alleviated instead of [spending on] weapons – people who have taken to the streets every day to shout [in protest].”
Recently, IRGC Aerospace unveiled a missile called Fattah [i.e., “victory giver”], claiming it is hypersonic and can “pass all missile shields”_ without providing any evidence in this regard.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi attended this ceremony and the Iranian supreme leader reportedly chose the name of this missile.
Hamid, however, slammed the Iranian authorities saying those who are on top do not know what is happening in the slums of villages and cities. Even in Tehran, he added, living conditions have become very tough.
Pointing to the Iranian government’s isolation on the international scene because of its military, nuclear and foreign policies, Hamid emphasized that “we want the Iranian nation to have good relations with all other nations.”
In the meantime, as usual in the past weeks, people in Zahedan held protests after the Friday mass prayer ceremony in which they chanted slogans against the government.
According to Haalvsh website which reports on issues in Sistan and Balochistan Province, during the last Friday protests, at least 16 Balochi youths and teenagers were arrested by Iranian security and law-enforcement forces.
This is not the first time that Balochi citizens have been arrested after the Friday protests. Prior to this, the security and plainclothes forces had arrested youths and teenagers in different parts of Zahedan. IRGC security forces too have repeatedly arrested Balochi citizens randomly.
Iraq Pays Back $2.76 Billion of Debt to Iran; Decline in Dollar’s Price
A senior official from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and a member of the Parliament Oil and Energy Committee have announced that Baghdad will soon pay back $2.7 billion of its gas and electricity debts to Iran.
A senior official in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry told Reuters that Baghdad has agreed to pay back $2.76 billion of its debts for purchasing gas and electricity from Iran, after obtaining a waiver from the United States to be exempted from the sanctions.
Because of several decades of conflict and the international sanctions against this country, Iraq has depended heavily on Iran for its gas and electricity requirements.
Moreover, in recent years, the US sanctions against Iran’s oil and gas industries have created obstacles for Baghdad to pay its debts back to Iran, while because of Iraq’s significant overdue debts, Iran has repeatedly halted gas exports to Iraq in retaliation.
At the same time, head of the Iran-Iraq Joint Chamber of Commerce Yahya Al-Eshagh announced the partial release of Iran’s frozen assets in Iraq, stating that this can considerably contribute to the stability in the forex and basic goods markets.
In the meantime, following the news of the release of part of Iran’s frozen assets in Iraq, Iranian media outlets announced a drop in the price of the dollar in the market to 47,000 tomans per dollar.
Financial experts maintain that the price of the forex might continue to drop in the next two months, but, as before, this trend will only be temporary and there will not be any considerable change in this regard.
A website close to the Iranian “hardliners” has warned that the released money in Iraq or in South Korea will not result in real economic growth in Iran. It added that the released money in Iraq will be spent on Hajj pilgrimage expenses and purchasing basic goods, which means that no money will be deposited in Iran’s accounts in and out of the country.
Mohammad Khatami: The Hijab Cannot Be Imposed on Society
One of Iran’s key “reformist” figures, former President Mohammad Khatami made a distinction between “chastity” and “hijab,” underscoring that the hijab cannot be forced on society.
In his meeting with a number of women activists and women involved in social and political activities, Khatami urged that “we defend a chaste society, but it doesn’t mean that chastity and the hijab are the same and the hijab can be imposed on the society.”
Mohammad Khatami pointed to the Quranic verse of “there is no compulsion in religion,” adding that it means that there is no obligation to follow religion. So how come, he asked, there is a compulsion in the hijab which is not one of the main principles of the religion?
While Khatami underscored that the hijab cannot be forced on society, forced hijab is considered one of the key issues for the Iranian government, with many Iranian authorities describing it as the government’s red line.
After the recent widespread protests during the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, the Iranian government heightened its tough measures for the enforcement of the hijab on women. At the same time, the Iranian judiciary and executive branches have submitted a “bill for protecting the culture of the hijab and chastity” to the Parliament which calls for increasing the pressures for enforcing mandatory hijab in the country.
In this bill, heavy penalties are considered for citizens who do not comply with the hijab dress codes including deprivation of internet services, shutting down businesses and seizing automobiles.
Critics say that this bill is for heightening pressures on women to submit to the dress codes of the Iranian government and to force citizens to comply with mandatory hijab.
But widespread protests as part of the Woman, Life, Freedom movement as well as women’s protests over compulsory hijab have challenged the Iranian government’s measures.
The “bill for protecting the culture of the hijab and chastity” is deemed to be a part of the Iranian government’s measures for enforcing obligatory hijab regulations without further mobilizing those who are against compulsory hijab.