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Opinion: A Year Later – The Diplomatic Deception of the Century | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Last Wednesday marked the first anniversary of the so-called “nuclear deal” brokered by US President Barack Obama with the Khomeinist regime in Iran and marketed by both sides as a great diplomatic victory.

This time last year, President Hassan Rouhani was talking of “the greatest diplomatic victory in the history of Islam” while Islamic Security was busy organizing “spontaneous demonstrations” to mark the triumphal moment. Rouhani’s entourage was spreading rumours that he may be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize while his brother Hussein Fereidoun supervised the erection of the president’s bust in their native village of Sorkheh.

For its part, the Obama administration conducted an elaborate hoax to sell the Congress, the media and, beyond them the public at large a bill of goods which was to be exposed by the president’s own advisers a few months later.

This year, of course, there were no “spontaneous demonstrations” and, if the reports we get are correct, no one is even cleaning the graffiti left by pigeons on the President’s triumphal bust in Sorkheh.

Rouhani had promised that the “deal” would mark the start of a new era of economic prosperity and international acceptability. To keep that myth alive he traveled to a dozen capitals, some in the West, and played host to dignitaries from some 60 different countries who rushed to Tehran as if it were the new Eldorado. To give the hyped comings-and-goings a simulacrum of substance, Rouhani and his entourage announced putative trade agreements with 30 countries worth more than $400 billion. A year later not a single one of those “announcements” had been elevated to the level of a real contract.

However, not everyone fell for the elaborate hoax worked out by Obama. Some of us noted right from the start that the only deal made was about the method of circumventing the US Congress and the Iranian ersatz parliament (Majlis). We also noted the fact that the torrent of fool’s gold promised by Rouhani would not translate into hard cash acceptable in this inferior world.

Once the hoax was exposed, Obama and his “New York Boys” in Tehran tried to promote a new narrative according to which the non-existent “deal”, known as Barjam in Persian, was just the first act in a three-act drama that was to see Iran transformed from an international pariah making trouble for everyone including itself into a “constructive partner” for the United States.

The second act was to produce a crushing victory for the “New York Boys”, their strings pulled by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s faction, giving them control of the Assembly of Experts and the Islamic Consultative Assembly.

However, when elections did take place, the hoped-for second act turned out quite differently. While there were signals that many voters were fed up with the whole caboodle of the Khomeinist regime, there was no indication that the” New York Boys” had secured a constituency of their own.

The third act was supposed to see the “New York Boys” reining in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and start changing the Islamic Republic’s behavior. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State and one of the most totally clueless diplomats I have seen in 50 years of journalism, believed that his 100-plus meetings with Muhammad-Jawad Zarif, one of the “New York Boys” acting as Foreign Minister for the mullahs, would transform the Khomeinist wolf into a lamb.

Rouhani and his group accepted humiliating terms that no self-respecting leadership would have dreamt of considering. First, they agreed to negotiate with a legally non-existent gang named by the media as G5+1, thus making nonsense of Iran’s position as a sovereign nation-state that negotiates with other sovereign nation-states either bilaterally or multilaterally within the framework of the UN and other international organizations. They exchanged the dignity of the Iranian state for empty promises by a cynical bunch of foreign politicians.

Secondly, by submitting to the “deal” they implicitly agreed that Iran had been in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and thus had deserved the severe sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations’ Security Council.

Thirdly, they agreed that those sanctions, plus other sanctions individually imposed by the United Sates and the European Union, should be “suspended” but remain legally valid for at least another 15 years.

Fourthly, they agreed that Iran’s frozen assets would remain under US control for at least another 15 years. In exchange, the US would permit Iran to spend its own money in tranches with prior green light from the illegal G5+1 gang. Obama has released Iranian assets in small doses, in what is a financial version of water-boarding. The mullahs receive enough money to pay their military and terrorist clients in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq but not enough to build the Eldorado Rouhani promised.

Iranian companies and individuals are still shut out of the international banking system. Even Hezbollah receives its wages in the form of Samsonites filled with greenbacks and flown to Beirut airport. Of Iran’s frozen assets, less than 10 per cent have been released while US courts have seized a further $2.5 billion of Iranian assets for payment to victims of Khomeinist terrorism.

While some sanctions have been suspended, not canceled, at least 20 other sanctions have been imposed on Iranian individuals and companies since the historic “deal” was unveiled a year ago.

To be sure, thanks to the fact that Rouhani and his “New York Boys” have no control over the nuclear program, the Islamic Republic has not substantially modified its ambitions, whatever they may be. Behruz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Iran Atomic Energy Agency, put it nicely when he said that nothing had become irreversible. “Everything could be back where it was in half a day,” he said.

A year after the hyped-up “deal”, what was known in Western chancelleries as “The Iran Problem” remains intact. In Tehran we have a regime that cannot liberate itself from its revolutionary illusions and continues to behave like a rebellious teenager who refuses to grow up. It tries to make the rest of the Middle East like itself because it is afraid of being forced to become like the rest of the Middle East.

Obama simply kicked the ticking can down the road for his successor. Obama’s trompe-l’oeil “deal” was to open the way for a photo-op blitz-visit to Tehran in his last year as president. That is not going to happen. The opera “Barack in Iran” isn’t going to rival “Nixon in China” because it won’t be made, though an opera-buffa, perhaps to be called “The Tale of Two Liars” remains a possibility.