This is not the first time that the American president has surprised political circles with new stances, which are not necessarily contradictory, but are rather different from common political practice. The time span between the violent tweet in which he threatened Rowhani and the tweet calling on him to negotiate is just one week.
I think the past weeks have been filled with mediations and indirect contacts between the two parties, especially by Iran considering that it is the harmed party. These contacts propose ideas and promises and this is what Trump talked about recently where he said: “I know they will bow and will come to me with a better deal than the one the former American administration signed.”
Trump quickly legislated the imposing of sanctions and made them gradual to give a chance to Iran’s customers, who include some of America’s allies, to settle their situation and exit Iran, and at the same time this gave a chance to the Iranian regime to offer the best concessions it can make. Perhaps the clear and frank mediation, which the Omani minister carried out, prepared for such a public frank exchange. Oman has been used to conveying messages between Tehran and Washington in the past.
Regarding the Trump administration, it may have enough information about Tehran’s desire to concede, and Trump’s invitation to Rowhani to negotiate without preconditions is just a move to save the face of the Iranian regimeAbdulrahman al-Rashed
Jumping to conclusions
We must not jump to conclusions and announce victory or defeat. The submissiveness of the Iranian regime or Trump’s retreat is not a football game. What’s certain is that there is one party that must make concessions, and that would be Tehran – although it has been defiant and said it will not concede.
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The Khamenei regime does not have plenty of options because if it does not take action and make concessions, it will collapse from the economic sanctions, the signs of domestic rebellion and the high cost of its military adventures.
The American administration itself did not say that its final aim was to change the regime, but to amend its behavior. It said it wants to reach a better nuclear deal that prohibits Iran from manufacturing nuclear weapons, and not a deal like Obama’s which only prevents Iran from enriching uranium for 10 years.
Regarding the Trump administration, it may have enough information about Tehran’s desire to concede, and Trump’s invitation to Rowhani to negotiate without preconditions is just a move to save the face of the Iranian regime, which Trump has placed in a difficult corner then opened the door wide for it.
In the past months, governments and organizations in support of Tehran and those supporting it in the region were overcome with fear as a result of the rapid and systematic escalation of the Trump administration against Rowhani’s government. Even the conditions of American reconciliation seemed impossible, in reference to the 12 conditions which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on May 12. These conditions seemed like a roadmap aimed at toppling the regime, but wrapped in talks about changing the regime’s behavior only.
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With or without pressure from Trump’s administration, the Iranian regime’s behavior or the Iranian regime itself will change, because this is the cycle of a violent regime’s life, and this is their maximum age. The supreme leader’s regime is the last extremist regime of its kind in the world, after North Korea, which voiced its desire to change. Similar regimes have disappeared, like those of Saddam in Iraq, Qaddafi in Libya and Castro in Cuba have ended and before that the Soviet Union, other eastern European regimes and plenty of others.
Communism in China collapsed as a system, even though the communists have stayed in power. Iran did not change and did not deviate one inch since the establishment of its extremist security theological regime in 1979. This regime has reached the phase of old age, and it will not be capable of controlling the domestic situation if it does not change. It will collapse in a few years without any foreign attacks on it.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.