“Successful negotiations with untrustworthy adversaries are only achieved through a position of strength,” Paul said in a USA Today video clip. This commentary reflects concerns that have been repeatedly emphasized by a range of critics of the Obama administration’s negotiations in recent weeks and months. Believing that Obama has worked on the issue from a position of weakness rather than strength, many of these critics fault the administration for giving away American leverage and offering too many concessions to Tehran.
This, of course, has raised fears that last week’s framework agreement, and ultimately the final agreement that is due on June 30, will turn out to be much more favorable to Iranian interests than American interests. This worry is arguably gratified by an article published by VICE on Tuesday, which details the response to the framework agreement by several members and supporters of Hezbollah.
Overall, the Lebanese terrorist organization supports the deal and expects that it will personally benefit from greater Iranian patronage soon after Iran secures sanctions relief under the terms of the agreement. The Hezbollah commentary and the VICE article as a whole emphasize the fact that in the midst of these negotiations Iran has not toned down any of its rhetoric or policies against the US or the state of Israel.
Quite the contrary, Iran has extended its reach through the region, leading one Hezbollah figure to conclude that “The US is frightened of Iran, because it is a superpower now.” The individual went on to suggest that Western interests are further challenged by the growing unity of Hezbollah, Iran, and its other proxies: “If they have a problem with Iran, they have a problem with all the Shia.”
Naturally, then, critics of the Obama administration are concerned that the West is poised to give away a great deal of wealth to Iran, with which it will finance these terrorist proxies and further pursuit of regional hegemony. Some of those critics have cautioned that such enrichment of Iran would also make it more difficult for the US and its allies to “negotiate from a position of strength” in the future, in that Iran’s economic value will undermine international support for sanctions while also encouraging Western businesses to invest in the country.
This trend is arguably anticipated by recent news from the region. Iran has had a fraught relationship with Turkey, with the two countries backing opposing sides in the Syrian Civil War and the developing conflict in Yemen despite having some level of mutual economic independence. Their relationship was put under additional strain in late March when a Saudi-led coalition began bombing Iran-backed targets in Yemen, prompting Turkey to speak out against Iran’s efforts to dominate the region.
But with Iran now looking forward to better than even chances of broad-based relief from economic sanctions, Reuters reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday and the two often-adversarial leaders agreed to several points of economic and trade expansion while simply ignoring the issue of the ongoing proxy war in Yemen.
Meanwhile, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has not simply ignored the issue but effectively denied the well-recognized Iranian role in Yemen. That is, Khamenei was quoted by Iran’s state-affiliated Tasnim News Agency as saying in a meeting, “The opposition to foreign intervention constitutes the Islamic Republic’s stance on all countries, including Yemen.” In the same meeting, Khamenei credited a “general Islamic awakening” with creating autonomous opposition to Western interests in Yemen and all throughout the region.
If sanctions relief points to the possibility of Iran benefiting from former and potential enemies, then it goes without saying that the Islamic Republic will accrue even greater benefit from countries that are already its allies, especially if they have been worried about the consequences of violating sanctions in the past. Already, several Chinese companies have committed to investing in development projects in Iran, while the nation as a whole is talking about expanding its Iranian oil imports, according to another Reuters report.