By M.A. Saki

“We’ll see how it goes”

July 17, 2019 - 11:53

Here is the deal: President Trump lifted waivers on Iranian oil to strangle the country’s oil-dependent economy under the “maximum pressure” policy. Tehran won relief from international sanctions following a multilateral accord with six world powers, including the U.S., in 2015.

Trump pulled his country out of the deal in 2018 despite Tehran’s ongoing commitment to it.

In retaliation, Iran announced partial withdrawal from the accord on May 8 on the anniversary of the U.S. pullout to have sent a strong message to Washington and the other signatories that it won’t sit idly by now that the deal is not delivering economic benefits it was originally designed for. Just recently, Iran upped its uranium enrichment beyond the 3.67% limit dictated by the deal, as previously flagged by Tehran, threatening to take “stronger measures” should the European signatories of France, England, and Germany fail to buy Iranian oil and ease banking sanctions.

Iran’s gradually baking out of the nuclear deal is a consequence of Washington pulling out of it. Washington has been very careful with its rhetoric, trying to sell its maximum pressure policy as an effort to renegotiate the accord.

But, if nothing else, the campaign seeks to lay the ground for regime change by starving the country of oil revenues, ratcheting up economic pressure on Iranians, and ultimately inciting public unrest! In fact, hawkish national security advisor John Bolton has made no secret of his desire to topple the Islamic republic. In a speech made to the annual gathering of the notorious Iranian Mujahedeen Khalq (MEK) in Paris in July 2017, Bolton said, “The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore, the only solution is to change the regime itself”. The MEK was added to the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations in 1997 and removed in 2012!

Washington has also taken its maximum pressure agenda too far by directing a policy of brinkmanship against Iran as evidenced in the recent saber-rattling and the deployment of warships in the Persian Gulf. In a recent escalation of affairs, a U.S. air force drone was shot down by Iran after it breached the country’s airspace.

But, and only for a surreal moment, let’s give Washington the benefit of the doubt and believe they want a deal. Imagine Iranian and American diplomatic teams get back to the negotiation room. And let’s jettison the Europeans momentarily, whose ultimate weight has already become known to Tehran.

Washington has been very clear with its expectations, already paid for by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, consulted with Israel, and signed off on by the Oval Office. On their wish list are extensions of sunset terms, verifiable curbs on Iran’s missile program, no ties with Shiite groups in the region, pulling Iranian boots in Syria and Iraq, agreeing and respecting a Western understanding of human rights, and finally, and a huge, monopolized Iranian market for Americans to roll out their capitalist presence. The menu, of course, can be rearranged at the whim of future presidents! So, they would include an open-ended clause to the deal as a safeguard to tie in unforeseeable cases such as Iran’s space program, nanotechnology.

Tehran would have caved in to the terms of the renegotiated accord, hailed by Trump as the “best deal ever renegotiated”. Well, okay! Sounds like a plan! Let’s have a chicken barbeque to celebrate it, as we Iranians say, wherein Bolton gets to drink a mustache cup of home-made Lorish yogurt drink! What a snooze to take thereupon!

But before that drama moment occurs, the American team has to hear out Tehran’s expectation. No one has ever speculated about Tehran’s favorite terms. Here are some: removing each and every sanction against Iran, putting a ban on arms sales to Arab caliphates in the Persian Gulf for foreseeable future, cancelling any plan to transfer nuclear technology to Arab countries, notably Saudi Arabia and the UAE, getting Iran into a multinational military alliance, withdrawing all American troops from the Persian Gulf and neighboring countries, downgrading ties with Israel, etc.

Will Washington be willing to renegotiate the deal under such conditions?! “We’ll see how it goes”, as Trump says.

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