A Deal with the ‘Great Satan’ Flanked by the ‘Smaller Devil’

In the end, Iran signed an agreement with the “Great Satan,” with the “Smaller Devil” in convoy. The latter is entirely satisfied with the agreement despite everything that was published about the reactions of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister, suggesting entirely otherwise.

The goal of the agreement is perfectly obvious. On the one hand, there is American placation of Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue. On the other hand, Iran will obtain millions of dollars as a result of the agreement. Iran signed the agreement after extended negotiations with the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany (P5 + 1) for a very simple reason. It wants to rescue its economy from total collapse; no more, no less.

President Hassan Rouhani and other Iranian officials are able to talk about achieving victories. This talk is for domestic consumption. It’s exactly like the discourse of President Barack Obama, who will face opposition to the agreement in Congress. Obama, who has found in the Iranian agreement the one place where he is realizing success, is trying to convince Congress that this agreement was an alternative to a new war.

The Iranians boast about their tremendous patience. As an example they are always citing the length of time a single family spends at work for the sake of a handmade carpet. This is true. But it’s also true that the Iranian sells the carpet in less than five minutes. Similarly, transfer of ownership after a dispute or barter has been known to take just half an hour or slightly more.

In the circuitous game with the United States, there was no need for Iran to end up where it did. Nevertheless, at the end of the day a blockade and international sanctions forced them to surrender to the terms of the “Great Satan” who is so very beloved by most Iranians. There is a long and old love story between the Iranian and American people. There was a time when the United States wasn’t against Iran. Quite the contrary, there was American support for Iran even during the war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, and also during the period before the war. Who remembers the “Irangate” affair, a fact many now ignore?

In the book “The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames,” which was very thoroughly researched, author Kai Bird points out that after the revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, the CIA officer in the region, Bob Ames, was the first to warn the Iranians of the possibility that Saddam Hussein might resort to launching a war against them. Of course, the new Iranian officials didn’t heed the American warning. They turned to provoking the United States by occupying its embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

In essence, the Iranian regime always wanted to use hostility toward the United States in search of some kind of legitimacy. They fought the United States everywhere. All were wars at the expense of the Iranians and their well-being, as well as at the expense of the region’s people, the Arabs. By way of example and not an exhaustive enumeration, does Lebanon deserve what has happened to it at the hands of Iran, in order to reach the recent deal with the United States? How many times has Iran blown things up through its proxies or tried to blow up the American Embassy in Lebanon?

For more than 35 years, Iran has invested in anything that might provoke sectarian instincts. They did this in every Arab country, even in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which recognized early on how to put an end to Iran’s attempts to “politicize the pilgrimage.” The Iranian regime was in a position to come to an understanding with Washington from the moment the shah was overthrown with America’s blessing. There was no need for all of the destruction and devastation in order to arrive at the outcome that is the agreement for Iran’s nuclear program … If only Iran had been of a mind to strive to build rather than to destroy on the one hand, and to refrain from investing in provoking sectarian and denominational instincts on the other hand.

What did Iran reap in Lebanon other than the destruction that took place there? What is Iran’s political and economic plan for Lebanon? Is the isolation of Lebanon from its Arab surroundings a goal in and of itself?

What applies to Lebanon also applies to Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, and even Sudan. What did Iran reap from its exploitation in all these Arab countries? What did it reap from the trade in the Palestinian cause and from “Quds Day,” which was nothing more than a means of bidding on the Arabs with the intention of also embarrassing them?

After all of this destruction and devastation, Iran went back to America’s warm embrace with Israel’s blessing. They could have done this 36 years ago. But it was preferred to weave the carpet that they then put off selling until there was nothing left except surrendering to the conditions imposed upon them.

The entire world, including the Arabs, knows that the Iranian nuclear project was an argument used by the international community, with the blessing of Israel, to subdue Iran. It would have been preferable had they reached the outcome they ultimately achieved, several years earlier. This would have saved the region a lot of suffering. But what is there to be done when it is Iran’s intention to play the role that America and Israel demand it plays? Has Israel ever been against southern Lebanon being a wound that is bleeding, despite that being at the expense of Lebanon, the Lebanese, and the people of the south specifically?

The role of Iran has shaped and is still shaping the region’s fragmentation. Where is the American and the Israeli problem with this role? Where is the American and Israeli problem with dividing Iraq by means of sectarian militias that belong to parties being directed from Tehran? Where is the problem with Syria not ever being put back together?

In light of the nuclear agreement, there is one question to be raised: Does this change Iran? It is difficult to answer this question, but past experience does not encourage optimism, especially since there is no one in Iran who is prepared to embark on a process of self-criticism. This process would include recognizing that the policy for the past 36 years did not bring anything other than destruction and misery to Iran, the Iranians or the Middle East region. Years ago, prior to pursuing the policy of investing in anything that might cause destruction and nothing but destruction, it was within Iran’s ability to reach an agreement preferable to the recent one in Vienna. There is such a thing as building up. Iran can substitute its destructive role for a constructive role which serves, first and foremost, its people.

Perhaps the only condition necessary for this transition from destructiveness to constructiveness is for Tehran to give up the illusion of playing a key regional role. Persian civilization is an ancient and important civilization. There is no disputing this matter. However, this is not sufficient cause for Iran to play a hegemonic role at the regional level, especially when half of the country’s people are living below the poverty line.

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