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Iran News Digest- July 10, 2014

Reactions to Nuclear Talks

In an editorial at Front Page Mag, Majid Rafizadeh, president of the International American Council, reinterprets another editorial from earlier this week by US Secretary of State John Kerry. He quotes Kerry’s delicate criticism of the Iranian position at nuclear talks and concludes that what Kerry is really saying is that “Iran has been buying time and fooling us,” and that Obama administration policies have thus failed.

Rafizadeh goes on to question Kerry’s seriousness about enforcing new sanctions after negotiations fail. He suggests that the Obama administration is offering an excess of incentives to Iran, and that if that does not work, it will still push for an extension of the interim deal, giving Iran more time to stall the process and secure its position.

No doubt acting upon similar concerns about the Obama administration’s policies, the US House of Representatives has again made a push for its own inclusion in decision-making about the nuclear deal. The Tide Water Review points out that approximately three-fourths of US Representatives signed a letter asking the president for this authority.

Despite Kerry’s arguable acknowledgment of the poor prospects for a deal and despite Congressional opposition to a weak deal – or perhaps because of the idea that the US is committed to securing a deal against those odds – Russia is reportedly particularly optimistic about the chances of an agreement being reached. Reuters quotes Alexander Lukashevich as saying, “We hope to work out a final text of the agreement - despite all the difficulties - by the July 20 deadline.”

Courting the Kurds

Rudaw reports that Iran is now responding to the desperate situation in Iraq by reaching out to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq in an attempt to use them to encourage the Kurdish population in Iraq to align itself with Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite majority in spite of former political repression. More than simply inviting them into a political alliance, Iran has reportedly pressured the Kurds to join the fight against Sunni rebels and militants in western Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan officials, on the other hand, are considering voting to break away from the rest of Iraq. If successful, such a move would cause Iran to lose roughly one-third of the territory that it had formerly influenced through Maliki’s government. The loss of the Kurdish faction may also make it even more difficult for Iran to maintain its foothold in a conflict between just Sunnis and Shiites. What’s more, a Kurdish breakaway republic in Iraq may further weaken Iran’s hold on power by emboldening its own Kurdish minority to assert greater autonomy.

Declassifying History

While Iran strives to deny the reality of the influence of Western attitudes and democracy, some figures in the West are apparently still intent upon denying their role in creating the conditions that led to the emergence of the Islamic Republic. However, the New York Times reports that this denial may be waning, as State Department historians are preparing to release a fuller version of a 1989 report on American policy toward Iran in the middle of the 20th century, around the time that the CIA helped to install the Pahlavi regime that would later be overthrown in the Iranian Revolution.

The Times article suggests that this transparency will help to advance US-Iranian relations. But on the other hand it could be said that the acknowledgement of former mistakes may remind Western powers about the dangers of partnering with repressive regimes in pursuit of short-term foreign policy goals. Seen this way, the 1953 coup may warn the US against putting its weight behind the current Iranian regime.

 

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