A NEW PRESIDENT FOR PERSIA: WHAT ARE THE DIPLOMATIC RAMIFICATIONS?
"No one imagines the change of presidential leadership in Tehran provides a get-out-of-jail card. Mr Rohani is not about to turn off the uranium centrifuges as a gesture of goodwill to the international community. He has already said as much. The western diplomats who dealt with him when he served as former president Mohammad Khatami’s national security adviser say he is better described as a pragmatist than a moderate. The new president wants to end Iran’s isolation, not least because of the crippling impact of sanctions on the economy; but he is also a cleric steeped in the revolutionary ideology of 1979. In any event, real power – and that means command of the nuclear dossier – resides with the supreme leader. And, as far as anyone can guess, it seems that Mr Khamenei still thinks the regime is safer developing a bomb than not. For all this, the election result does offer an opening – the possibility of a serious dialogue between the US and Iran. The present, stuttering, talks between the so-called P5+1 powers and Iran are useful, not least in sustaining a semblance of international solidarity, It matters that Russia and China have signed up to several rounds of UN sanctions. But everyone knows that if there is a deal to be made, it will be struck by Washington and Tehran, and will reach well beyond the nuclear programme. It has taken Barack Obama’s administration five years to recognise that talking to enemies is not the same as appeasement. This week it opened talks with the Taliban. Sad to say, this decision has come too late to offer the prospect of the political settlement in Afghanistan that was once promised to accompany military retreat. Making the same mistake with Iran would be a greater tragedy. Mr Obama has all but promised to bomb Iran to prevent it acquiring the bomb. Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, whose finger is never off the trigger, relishes the prospect of another war. The US president’s job is to explore every avenue, exert every ounce of diplomatic energy and deploy every sanction and incentive to avoid such an outcome".Philip Stephens, "Time to talk: bombing will not stop an Iranian bomb." The Financial Times. 20 June 2013, in www.ft.com.
"Almost a decade ago Iran’s new president-elect, Hassad Rouhani, held the position of chief nuclear negotiator for Iran. If Rouhani is again to take up the nuclear dossier—this time as president—what can the West expect from any negotiations? His past and recent statements are illuminating of possible strategies and positions. Below, ISIS has compiled a list of noteworthy statements, speech excerpts, and social media posts by Rouhani on Iran’s nuclear program and policy, along with ISIS’s findings about those statements. Past statements and actions by the seemingly shrewd, remarkably honest Rouhani show that the United States and its partners should expect any negotiations to be used to buy time for nuclear advancements and to garner sanctions relief. His more recent concern about the economic state of Iran due to sanctions indicates that the West may expect that he will at least try to make a deal, but whether that deal will go far enough or be accepted by the Supreme Leader is, as usual, a big unknown".Meredith Tull & Andrea Stricker, "ISIS Iran Report: Can Rouhani Deliver a Nuclear Deal? Can he be Trusted?" ISIS Nuclear Iran [Persia]. 19 June 2013, in http://www.isisnucleariran.org/ The unexpected election of the new President of Persia is simply that: unexpected. Whatever the reasons that the Mullahs in control of Persia decided to forgo the 2009-style, electoral manipulation and repression, what immediately concerns the outside world is how having Hassad Rouhani nominally in charge of the government of Persia will alter if at all the stances that Persia takes on the nuclear negotiations. As mentioned above, Rouhani was almost ten years ago, Persia's chief negotiator in talks with the Western powers. At that time, he was (in conjunction with his boss, then President Khatami) able to display some flexibility in the negotiations. The issue to-day is, whether or not, he possesses any real flexibility, or should we say he is allowed some real flexibility by the so-called Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At this point of time we do not know. And by definition we cannot know. We will only be able to ascertain something when negotiations resume. And in that case, we will learn that either Rouhani, is merely a Persian version of what the late, great, A.J.P. Taylor once described as the, 'the Good German':
"impotent to arrest the march of German power, deploring its consequences, yet going along with it 1."Or alternatively, he does indeed possess or has been given, the latitude to agree to some type of acceptable modus vivendi with the Western powers. In all honesty, given the fact that air strikes, as many experts from Anthony Cordesman on down have shown, cannot easily or quickly eliminate the dangers of Persia proceeding with its nuclear programme, the emphasis must be on a diplomatic solution to the problem 2. In light of this fact, it behooves us all, to endeavor as much as possible to try to reach an acceptable compromise formula, with the admittedly detestable regime of Mullahs. 1. A. J. P. Taylor. The Struggle for Mastery in Europe. (1954). p 460. 2. Anthony Cordesman, "Iran and the Gulf Military Balance II: The Missile and Nuclear Dimensions." The Center for Strategic and International Studies. 12 July 2012, in www.csis.com.