Diary

Iran, Russia and the United States

In this Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

In this Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Tehran, Iran. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

To say the world was against Trump pulling out of the bogus nuclear accords with Iran would be an understatement.  Coupled with the reimposition of sanctions and new sanctions against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, one thing is clear: Iran’s forked-tongue diplomacy has suffered a setback.  That strategy was used to hoodwink bleeding heart liberals in the West while fanning the fires of anti-Western nations.

Tehran used smooth talking academics like Hassan Abassi, considered the Kissinger of Islam, who used rhetoric almost straight from the mouths and pens of people like Louis Farrakhan and Noam Chomsky.  At the other end of the table was Muhammed Javad Zarif, former Iranian ambassador to the UN and later Iranian Foreign Minister since 2013.  Not chosen for his diplomatic prowess but because of his English abilities and connections in the US, Zarif became a darling of the East Coast liberal set downplaying the anti-American rhetoric while engaging in anti-American actions.  The liberals, being the dupes they are, played along.

Zarif learned to talk the talk in America.  American cliches like “give and take,” “win-win,” “the roadmap,” and “dialogue of civilizations” were frequently interjected into his speeches and interviews.  As UN Ambassador, he even learned how to use ghost writers to pen op-eds in all the liberal newspapers.  He dropped the “Muhammed” from his name at one time believing it too provocative.  He signed papers “Ambassador of Iran” with no mention of “the Islamic Republic of” part.  He sounded more sweet and reasonable than even a Danish winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  He had his supporters here in the United States- John Kerry and Joe Biden being two chief ones.

Zarif was the chief negotiator with regards to the nuclear accords.  But then something terrible happened: Trump was elected President and all that sweet talk and hoodwinking was now being threatened by the proverbial bull in the china shop.  At first, he turned to Europe believing the EU could reign in the bull.  He dropped the word “Europe” into basically every conversation when the subject of Trump or the United States came up.  He courted the EU’s foreign affairs czar, Federica Mogherini, in whom he found a kindred anti-American ally.

Since the EU cannot form a cogent or coherent foreign policy, they soon learned that Europe was not the solution to their policy of murder, mayhem and exportation of Islamic revolution.  New life was breathed into UN concerns over Iranian missile development and involvement in other countries.  So like a good diplomat, Iran and Zarif switched strategies.  Saying “We can longer count on the Europeans,” Zarif and company soon forgot the lexicon of East Coast liberals and started talking the fire-and-brimstone of the mullahs.

Instead of licking their wounds and slinking away, Iran almost immediately started talk of an new anti-Western alliance with Iraq, Turkey, Russia and China.  He boasted that Iranian exports to Iraq were ten times that of the EU, that Russia and China would always help Iran and that Turkey was turning its loyalties to the East, not the West.

Iraq imports about $10 billion annually from Iran with $2 billion of it being energy imports that have yet to be paid for.  Iran imports goods from China and Europe at very low exchange rates which they then export to countries like Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq.  This system has driven the price of basic goods in Iran through the roof.  There are shortages of such things as onions and potatoes.  In order to prop up their economy and bring in income, it is essentially a fire sale of goods.

As for China, they are likely to back Tehran in the UN and use their Security Council veto if necessary against any resolutions targeting Iran.  But, things are not so hunky dory as the mullahs would have us believe.  China refuses to unfreeze almost $22 billion in Iranian assets and insists they purchase Chinese goods instead.  China is also more than a little miffed at the joint Indian-Iranian effort to develop an Indian Ocean trade hub to rival the one China is building in Pakistan in Gwadar.

As for Russia, the first order of business was resolving the issue of the Caspian Sea.  After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, five nations bordering the Caspian made claims that almost led to military conflicts.  Agreements between the old Soviet Union and Iran were now obsolete with countries like Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan making claims to oil beds under the sea.  That new agreement is heavily slanted in Russia’s favor.  Second, it is telling that Russia has been steadfast in denying Iran entry into the so-called Shanghai Group- a security and economic agreement between China, Russia and several Central Asian former Soviet republics.  The reason is simple: to keep Iran out of the international energy market thus retaining the sword they hold over the head of Europe.

And if Iran and Zarif think they have friends in Istanbul, they may have to reconsider.  Turkey’s main goal is killing Kurds, something that runs counter to the interests of Iran.

Iran’s foreign policy is predicated upon illusions.  First, there was the illusion of a fresh start with a gullible president like Obama.  That worked in securing a nuclear “deal” while ignoring Iran’s missile program and exporting of Islamic revolution through terrorism.  When Trump thankfully reversed that illusion, they turned to Europe and miscalculated that Mogherini was the answer to reign in Trump.  When that plan fell through, they happened upon their latest illusion- an anti-Western alliance with Iraq, Turkey, Russia and China.  They are quickly learning an important lesson that other countries will say one thing, but ultimately and more importantly act in their own self interests.

You cannot blame Zarif too much since it is an almost impossible job.  It is hard to be a diplomat for a country that loathes diplomacy.  As long as Iran believes and acts as they do without fear of repercussions or punishment, it makes little difference how smooth one talks in liberal elite bubbles in New York, Washington and Brussels.  Most telling, Zarif tendered his resignation in February of this year.  Even more telling: the mullahs and Revolutionary Guard- the real power brokers and the ventriloquists behind the puppet that is Zarif- refused to accept that resignation.  The Iranian dummy remains their Foreign Minister.