Can Kim-Trump summit be replicated with Iran?

Hamid Bahrami
Hamid Bahrami
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The US President hailed the historic summit with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, following a year of political roller coaster and exchange of threatening words.

Many global security pundits are confused about the rationale behind why Kim has changed his mind on the relationship with the US.

President Trump’s strategy to solve the North Korean crisis has been to tighten the noose around Kim’s regime in order to force him to respect international laws. Seemingly, this strategy has worked as North Korea has already agreed to dismantle its nuclear capacity.

It appears that the US National Security team pursues the same strategy with regard to addressing the Iranian regime’s nuclear ambition and regional mischief. But the Iran situation is in fact a very different story.

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The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s list of 12 demands from Iran directly targets the theocracy’s fundamental pillars, namely its export of terrorism and domestic repression.

It is evident that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seeks to salvage his totalitarian regime. However, the quandary is that if he accepts only two of the 12 American demands and reforms the Islamic Republic’s behavior accordingly, nothing will remain of his regime.

Khamenei fully understands this, which is apparent from his most important condition for staying in the nuclear deal. Drawing a red-line for the EU3, the Supreme Leader made it clear that the EU should pledge not to seek negotiations on the regime’s regional activities.

Commanders of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) have consistently repeated that if the IRGC does not fight beyond Iran’s borders, the regime will face perilous threats on the streets of Tehran.

In contrast to the Iranian regime, North Korea has never destabilized its neighbors and in reality what President Trump expects from Kim does not threaten the existence of his regime

Hamid Bahrami

Pouring cold water

On the other hand, the so-called moderate President of Iran poured cold water on all hopes for negotiations with Iran in the Post-Nuclear Deal era.

During a meeting of regime officials on Friday on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, Rouhani said: “It is amazing that a power who has the blood of the people of this region from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen to other regions on its hands, has worn the mask of peace and speaks about negotiation, and the usurper regime who is killing people every day is traveling around to portray a false image of the Islamic Republic and people of Iran”.

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This is the main reason that I strongly believe the IRGC will never pull out its forces from the Middle East through diplomatic negotiations or sanctions. Restrictions on the regime’s source of income will certainly limit its influence but the US should eventually consider expelling the IRGC from the region.

In contrast to the Iranian regime, North Korea has never destabilized its neighbors and in reality what President Trump expects from Kim does not threaten the existence of his regime.

Hence, it is naive to expect for a real negotiation between Iranian clerics and President Trump even if the US gives them security guarantees. Historically, no one can secure a regime that is deeply hated by its own people.

Ideological leverage

Now, one may argue that both dictators could lose their ideological leverage and be overthrown by their suppressed masses if the political and social atmosphere are opened up. The Iranian regime has of course already lost its religious leverage among the people.

In reality, this argument could not be realistic for North Korea because Kim’s regime is not facing massive popular protests with chants of regime change at home.

On the contrary, in Iran, economic and political crises have risen to a decisive point as the regime has been faced with an organized opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which regime officials blames for the ongoing nationwide protests inside the country.

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As the NCRI prepares for its annual gathering in Paris on 30 June, known as Free Iran, my source inside Iranian President’s Office tells me that during a phone call between the French and the Iranian Presidents a few days ago, Rouhani asked for restrictions to be put on the event, which the French President declined.

As history teaches us, the US administration should not waste time to hear anything from theocracy. Instead, both Arab states and President Trump should pay close attention to the message out of NCRI’s gathering in Iran, which will echo the real voices of Iranians.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a human right and political activist and works as a freelance journalist. Bahrami has contributed to The Hill, Al Arabiya English and the Daily Caller as his work cover’s Iran’s Middle East actions and domestic social crackdown. He tweets at @HaBahram and blogs at analyzecom.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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