Zarif Returns from the US Empty-Handed
The Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif returned to Iran from his time in the US empty-handed. The regime’s mouthpiece abroad traveled to the United States last month to open a communication channel. He left with little to show for his efforts, instead of spending his time spouting regime propaganda on US news outlet, Fox News.
#Iran regime has frequently utilized hostages as political pawns and leverage against other governments. It is incumbent on these countries not to submit to Tehran’s hostage-taking game, writes @Dr_Rafizadeh https://t.co/NPHNKN1tAk pic.twitter.com/MsGUfsTqFM
— Arab News (@arabnews) May 2, 2019
Part of the issue, critics point out, is that when power is concentrated in the hands of the Supreme Leader, it becomes impossible for foreign governments to negotiate with anybody else in the leadership. Zarif does not have the authority to make assurances. Everything must go through Khamenei himself.
This leaves foreign governments with little inclination to spend the time opening communication channels with figures like Zarif. Mehdi Motaharnia, a regime political pundit, acknowledging the deadly crisis and ongoing infighting among different rifts for power, said “The government and Zarif want to decrease the pressure. However, this endeavor will only be accepted by the other party when governmental elements [meaning Khamenei] officially approve it.”
Motaharnia also described the change in the US’s thinking. The Trump administration represents a break from the decades-long policy of appeasement. It will no longer accept half-concessions in exchange for turning a blind eye to its destabilizing activities in the Middle East and beyond.
“The U.S. is serious this time around and will not heed what the government [meaning Hassan Rouhani and his faction] says,” Motaharnia added.
The Struggle Reaching its Pinnacle?
In recent weeks, the struggle between the US and the Iranian regime appears to have escalated. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the designation of the Iranian regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization.
In his speech, Pompeo said, “we are going to zero,” adding, “how long we remain there at zero depends solely on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s senior leaders.”
Iranian security pundit, Mehdi Mohammadi, questioned whether the struggle is “reaching its pinnacle now.”
— Iran Freedom (@4FreedominIran) April 28, 2019
The US’s adoption of a policy of maximum pressure against Iran is taking its toll on the Iranian leadership. Nationwide protests are becoming a regular occurrence and the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (MEK) and its resistance units become stronger by the day, garnering more public support and intensifying their opposition activities.
Zarif’s visit to the US should be interpreted as a sign of desperation. As the mullahs lose their grip on power at home, Zarif sought to open a channel of communication to reduce the regime’s international isolation.
His failure means the mullahs will have no respite from the storm of their own making. There will be no letting up. The Iranian people are saying enough is enough.