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Iran: Consequences of Zarif’s failed visit to the United States

Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif facing harsh criticism
Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif facing harsh criticism

Analysis by PMOI/MEK


Iran, May 3, 2019 - Iranian regime Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s recent visit to the United States ended miserably on April 28 and he left the U.S. empty handed. While Zarif was playing his scripted part in the U.S. to open a channel to stall the inevitable, the Iranian propaganda machine was busy celebrating and touting the move as a strategic win.

However, as the circus ended and the mullahs’ weakness loomed large in the aftermath of the media frenzy, both factions among the ruling elite sought to blame each other for the fiasco.

Fereydoun Majlesi, a former diplomat and political pundit close to the so-called moderate faction close to regime President Hassan Rouhani, blamed the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s faction for Zarif’s failure.

“The foreign minister did his best to keep a door open. Yet the Israelis, referring to some chants in Iran, pretend that these chants threaten their existence,” Majlesi said. “It appears that in some cases, there is still an approach prevailing in the country that is similar to the thinking of the former president who was preparing to manage the world,” he added, referring to former regime president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric.

Mehdi Motaharnia, another political pundit close to the moderate camp, refers to Zarif’s claim that he has the authority to negotiate and implicitly ask Khamenei to personally enter the field.

“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,” he explained.

Considering that he speaks about the government and its foreign minister, “governmental elements” cannot be anyone else other than Khamenei himself.

“The U.S. is serious this time around and will not heed what the government [meaning Hassan Rouhani and his faction] says,” Motaharnia further adds.

The Ebtekar newspaper, close to Rouhani’s faction, also writes: “In his visit to New York, Zarif showed Tehran’s desire to negotiate… Next month, the G7 will have their summit. The Big European and Asian powers’ stances in this regard will be determining.”

A number of elements close to Khamenei’s inner circle also could not hide their concerns about Zarif’s failure.

Mehdi Mohammadi, an Iranian security pundit, took to voice a strong warning. “In the ongoing strategic struggle between Iran and the U.S., reaching its pinnacle now, the focus point is the public opinion in Iran,” he explained.

He then implicitly expressed his concerns about popular discontent in Iran. “There are clear truths that are misrepresented by the U.S. and domestic Western lovers in order to channel the public opinion in Iran, even for a short while, in a direction that the U.S. can deliver a decisive blow [to the Islamic Republic]. This is the most important point that we should be aware of.”

It is self-evident that Zarif could never have raised the possibility of negotiations with the U.S. without Khamenei’s explicit approval.

Nonetheless, beyond the hype of Iran lobbies, Tehran’s weak stance is the clear message that all analysts are taking from Zarif’s approach, strategy and behavior during his visit to the U.S.

It is clear that the maximum pressure sanctions regime of the current U.S. administration is effective. The ruling mullahs in Tehran are feeling the pressure to the point that they are ready to come to the U.S. and give an exclusive interview with Fox News, hoping to drive a wedge in the Trump administration.

Whenever facing a real threat, the mullahs in Iran resort to stalling their adversary through prolonged negotiations, talks, and discussions about future talks that will mere lead to further negotiations. Unlike in democracies, unelected dictators can simply stall in the hopes of riding out the storm. This time, however, it appears to be different.