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Iran’s negotiators, don’t bother getting closer to the U.S.

On the eve of the resumption of Iran’s nuclear talks, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he was not optimistic about the outcome

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

Published: Updated:

On the eve of the resumption of Iran’s nuclear talks, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he was not optimistic about the outcome of the talks. He did, however, add that he did not object to the talks. These statements were made on Monday evening, hours before negotiators from the P5+1 group met in Vienna on Tuesday to hold talks on reaching a comprehensive agreement with Iran regarding its controversial nuclear program.

Reaching a final agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program is very important for all parties participating in the negotiations. It seems clear to all parties that if these talks fail, then the only option to confront Iran’s nuclear program - which is making progress - is war.

If Iran’s nuclear program really aims to serve peaceful and civilian purposes as they claim, then there should be no problem if the enrichment of uranium is restricted for the sake of building trust between Tehran and the P5+1 group. But the question is: if the Iranians are all optimistic about the nuclear negotiations with Western powers, then why does Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appear pessimistic? Meanwhile, if international powers appear ready to settle the nuclear issue via diplomatic means in which all parties engage in bilateral and unilateral talks, then why did the supreme leader voice his unhappiness about these negotiations on the eve of the important meeting?

But media outlets and observers have a different interpretation regarding Khamenei’s statements; they consider that his statements originated from his dissatisfaction about the entire negotiation process and the lack of trust regarding limiting Iran’s nuclear activity at a time when sanctions and American threats to launch war against Tehran remain an option.

Dissatisfaction

In my view, Khamenei’s statement indicated his dissatisfaction with the Iranian negotiating party which he thinks is getting closer to its American counterpart. Khamenei has fears that the nuclear talks could eventually lead to negotiations intent normalizing relations between Tehran and Washington.

In fact, the Iranian supreme leader seems more accepting of a scenario in which his country falls prey to severe sanctions and is subject to a possible confrontation with the United States. Meanwhile, he won’t be happy if negotiators trespass the red line - which is engaging in serious negotiations with the U.S. as this negates the legitimacy of the Iranian Revolution which was based on enmity with the U.S. and the West.

The illusion of the presence of a national enemy that threatens the Islamic Republic of Iran - that is the U.S. - remains a gift from God for Israel

Camelia Entekhabi-Fard

For some of those in power to be able to rule the people and justify the cruel circumstances they put the people through, they always need an enemy. The stronger the enemy gets, the more this serves the aims of those in power. Therefore, the U.S. became the perfect enemy since the eruption of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Khamenei clearly said that some in the previous and current governments want warm relations with the U.S. and seek to legitimize Washington as a humane government, adding: “But these efforts won’t yield results.”

Justification

To justify this suggestion, Iranian Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Abbas Araghchi said a week ago, during an interview with the state television, that decreasing tension cannot lead to resuming relations between the two countries. He added: “officials on both sides say that talks [regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons] don’t mean improving relations.”

The team of Iranian negotiators need to repeat this a lot of times in order to assure hardliners that they know their limits and that they won’t deviate from the path of nuclear talks in order to engage in normalization talks with the U.S.

But the illusion of the presence of a national enemy that threatens the Islamic Republic of Iran - that is the U.S. - remains a gift from God for Israel as any rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran represents Israel’s biggest fear on this planet.

Of course, Russia and China exert a lot of pressure to foil any plans aiming to normalize relations between Iran and the U.S. due to the several aspects of competition between them and the U.S. But Israel remains a different story by all standards. Iran can influence peace talks with the Palestinians and it can achieve complete change in the balance of powers in the region should rapprochement occur between it and the U.S. If the Israelis are not willing to live in peace and to grant the Palestinians their absolute rights and put an end to settlement plans, then why should we think that Iran is willing to be tolerant with the opposition, the journalists and human rights activists or be willing to adopt a policy of openness towards the world?

Many countries, primarily Iran and Israel, need to maintain the idea of the enemy so they can justify their inhumane policies. Iran and the U.S. are perfect example of this concept! This is why we can safely tell Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif: “Relax and forget about America!”

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Feb. 22, 2014.

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Camelia Entekhabi-Fard is a journalist, news commentator and writer who grew up during the Iranian Revolution and wrote for leading reformist newspapers. She is also the author of Camelia: Save Yourself by Telling the Truth - A Memoir of Iran. She lives in New York City and Dubai. She can be found on Twitter: @CameliaFard

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