The 'Satan' And Ayatollahs: A Year Later – The Diplomatic Deception of the Century
23 August 2016
By Amir Taheri
Last Wednesday marked the first anniversary of the so-called ''nuclear deal''
brokered by US President Barack Obama with the Khomeinist regime in Iran and
marketed by both sides as a great diplomatic victory.
This time last year, President Hassan Rouhani was talking of ''the greatest
diplomatic victory in the history of Islam'' while Islamic Security was busy
organizing ''spontaneous demonstrations'' to mark the triumphal moment.
Rouhani's entourage was spreading rumours that he may be nominated for the
Nobel Peace Prize while his brother Hussein Fereidoun supervised the erection
of the president's bust in their native village of Sorkheh.
For its part, the Obama administration conducted an elaborate hoax to sell the
Congress, the media and, beyond them the public at large a bill of goods which
was to be exposed by the president's own advisers a few months later.
This year, of course, there were no ''spontaneous demonstrations'' and, if the
reports we get are correct, no one is even cleaning the graffiti left by
pigeons on the President's triumphal bust in Sorkheh.
Rouhani had promised that the ''deal'' would mark the start of a new era of
economic prosperity and international acceptability. To keep that myth alive
he traveled to a dozen capitals, some in the West, and played host to
dignitaries from some 60 different countries who rushed to Tehran as if it
were the new Eldorado. To give the hyped comings-and-goings a simulacrum of
substance, Rouhani and his entourage announced putative trade agreements with
30 countries worth more than $400 billion. A year later not a single one of
those ''announcements'' had been elevated to the level of a real contract.
However, not everyone fell for the elaborate hoax worked out by Obama. Some of
us noted right from the start that the only deal made was about the method of
circumventing the US Congress and the Iranian ersatz parliament (Majlis). We
also noted the fact that the torrent of fool's gold promised by Rouhani would
not translate into hard cash acceptable in this inferior world.
Once the hoax was exposed, Obama and his ''New York Boys'' in Tehran tried to
promote a new narrative according to which the non-existent ''deal'', known as
Barjam in Persian, was just the first act in a three-act drama that was to see
Iran transformed from an international pariah making trouble for everyone
including itself into a ''constructive partner'' for the United States.
The second act was to produce a crushing victory for the ''New York Boys'',
their strings pulled by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani's faction, giving
them control of the Assembly of Experts and the Islamic Consultative Assembly.
However, when elections did take place, the hoped-for second act turned out
quite differently. While there were signals that many voters were fed up with
the whole caboodle of the Khomeinist regime, there was no indication that
the'' New York Boys'' had secured a constituency of their own.
The third act was supposed to see the ''New York Boys'' reining in the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps and start changing the Islamic Republic's behavior.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State and one of the most totally clueless
diplomats I have seen in 50 years of journalism, believed that his 100-plus
meetings with Muhammad-Jawad Zarif, one of the ''New York Boys'' acting as
Foreign Minister for the mullahs, would transform the Khomeinist wolf into a
Rouhani and his group accepted humiliating terms that no self-respecting
leadership would have dreamt of considering. First, they agreed to negotiate
with a legally non-existent gang named by the media as G5+1, thus making
nonsense of Iran's position as a sovereign nation-state that negotiates with
other sovereign nation-states either bilaterally or multilaterally within the
framework of the UN and other international organizations. They exchanged the
dignity of the Iranian state for empty promises by a cynical bunch of foreign
Secondly, by submitting to the ''deal'' they implicitly agreed that Iran had
been in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and thus had
deserved the severe sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations' Security
Thirdly, they agreed that those sanctions, plus other sanctions individually
imposed by the United Sates and the European Union, should be ''suspended''
but remain legally valid for at least another 15 years.
Fourthly, they agreed that Iran's frozen assets would remain under US control
for at least another 15 years. In exchange, the US would permit Iran to spend
its own money in tranches with prior green light from the illegal G5+1 gang.
Obama has released Iranian assets in small doses, in what is a financial
version of water-boarding. The mullahs receive enough money to pay their
military and terrorist clients in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq but not enough to
build the Eldorado Rouhani promised.
Iranian companies and individuals are still shut out of the international
banking system. Even Hezbollah receives its wages in the form of Samsonites
filled with greenbacks and flown to Beirut airport. Of Iran's frozen assets,
less than 10 per cent have been released while US courts have seized a further
$2.5 billion of Iranian assets for payment to victims of Khomeinist terrorism.
While some sanctions have been suspended, not canceled, at least 20 other
sanctions have been imposed on Iranian individuals and companies since the
historic ''deal'' was unveiled a year ago.
To be sure, thanks to the fact that Rouhani and his ''New York Boys'' have no
control over the nuclear program, the Islamic Republic has not substantially
modified its ambitions, whatever they may be. Behruz Kamalvandi, spokesman for
the Iran Atomic Energy Agency, put it nicely when he said that nothing had
become irreversible. ''Everything could be back where it was in half a day,''
A year after the hyped-up ''deal'', what was known in Western chancelleries as
''The Iran Problem'' remains intact. In Tehran we have a regime that cannot
liberate itself from its revolutionary illusions and continues to behave like
a rebellious teenager who refuses to grow up. It tries to make the rest of the
Middle East like itself because it is afraid of being forced to become like
the rest of the Middle East.
Obama simply kicked the ticking can down the road for his successor. Obama's
trompe-l'oeil ''deal'' was to open the way for a photo-op blitz-visit to
Tehran in his last year as president. That is not going to happen. The opera
''Barack in Iran'' isn't going to rival ''Nixon in China'' because it won't be
made, though an opera-buffa, perhaps to be called ''The Tale of Two Liars''
remains a possibility.
Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated
in Tehran, London and Paris. He was Executive Editor-in-Chief of the daily
Kayhan in Iran (1972-79). In 1980-84, he was Middle East Editor for the Sunday
Times. In 1984-92, he served as member of the Executive Board of the
International Press Institute (IPI). Between 1980 and 2004, he was a
contributor to the International Herald Tribune. He has written for the Wall
Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Times, the London Times, the
French magazine Politique Internationale, and the German weekly Focus. Between
1989 and 2005, he was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt. Taheri
has published 11 books, some of which have been translated into 20 languages.
He has been a columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Taheri's latest book
"The Persian Night" is published by Encounter Books in London and New York.