London –Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon issued a book entitled: In “The Iran Wars” which took him ten years to be done. Solomon tells the story of Iran’s nuclear program and its projection of power in the region, and the American struggle to contain the country.
The book is nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and speaks about secret messages between U.S. and Iranian negotiators who used to meet secretly in Oman in what he described as “secret deals that reshaped the Middle East.”
The book unveils the hypocrisy of the U.S. foreign policy and President Obama’s obsession to reach a deal with Iran no matter the results, to which John Kerry’s enthusiasm was very helpful.
Solomon relates the promise Obama gave to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei saying that if the nuclear deal was achieved, both countries can work against ISIS and U.S. won’t target Bashar Assad’s regime.
Asharq Al-Awsat met with author and chief foreign affairs correspondent Jay Solomon.
When asked about Obama’s promise to Khamenei, Solomon said that the White House insists that policy towards Iran has nothing to do with that towards Syria. Yet, Obama announced certain targets in Syria and then retreated from his decision. He added that the book revealed high-level secret meetings in Oman between U.S and Iran.
The author said in his book that officials at the Pentagon expressed their fear that operations in Syria could collapse the nuclear talks.
In his book, Solomon mentioned that Obama began writing to Khamenei one month after becoming president which he considered to be a calculated move. He added that Obama thought he could negotiate with Iran or even North Korea without conditions.
Between 2009 and 2015, according to Solomon, Obama sent five letters to Khamenei in which Obama assured the Supreme Leader that they do not want to change the regime in Iran and that the nuclear agreement could be reached amicably.
When asked if Khamenei responded to any of those letters, Solomon said that the Supreme Leader responded to at least the first one but didn’t commit to anything. According to his sources, Solomon said he knew that Khamenei responded to the letter about ISIS in which Khamenei said that cooperation depends on the type of the American operations.
In the book, the author wrote that Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that in case an agreement wasn’t reached, a war will happen. Solomon explained that Kerry was convinced of that. In the even that an agreement wasn’t reached, Iran would rush to enhance their nuclear program and U.S. would have to respond to that and relations would fall apart.
Solomon wrote in his book that Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif used to communicate three times a day. He also said that Zarif admitted to speaking with Kerry two or three times a day. He added that they still communicate, but he is not sure of how frequent.
The author said that Kerry would continue to communicate with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov despite what Russia does.
When asked if that is humiliating to the U.S foreign policy, Solomon said it is since it means U.S. has no power.
According to the author, since his first day as a president Obama’s focus was on Iran. He added that the interesting thing is that Kerry was willing to relinquish few things to Iran about Uranium.
During his second presidency, Obama organized a foreign policy team that agrees with his vision which is why he wasn’t worried in 2015 since he knows the team unlike the pervious one with Hillary Clinton.
The author added that the White House hoped there would a photo of Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani at the U.N. Yet, he was informed by the Iranians that they coordinated Rouhani’s program so that he won’t be in New York when Obama is. They were afraid he’d be attacked in Iran.
He also ruled out the possibility of Kerry visiting Iran after the presidential elections on November 08.
Solomon said that Kerry is eager to visit Iran to give the agreement legitimacy as this administration’s biggest achievements. But, and according to Solomon, Revolutionary Guard do not welcome Kerry’s visit.
The author believes that no matter who wins in the presidential elections, the new president will not create a new crisis. He added that despite his objection to the agreement, Khamenei was afraid of financial crisis which was gone after the agreement.
But Solomon heard from Clinton’s team that they will impose commitment to the agreement more forcefully and will question Iran’s missile technology and human rights.
The author said that polls show that Hillary Clinton is more likely to be the president.
The nuclear agreement didn’t include Iran’s missile program, but Solomon said that after the agreement, the statements were less intense. So instead of saying Iran should not develop weapons and missiles, the Security Council said it preferred if Iran didn’t do that.
According to the author, this means that Security Council doesn’t want Iran to do that, but it is not forbidden.
When asked about comprises President Obama gave to Iran, Solomon said it is interesting how the president dealt. In Yemen, the White House was against military operation but didn’t stand against it because they wanted Saudi Arabia’s support for the deal with Iran.
The author believes it will be hard for U.S. to play double: supporting Saudi Arabia from one side, while criticizing it from the other.
When asked if we should believe that Iran can win in any war against the U.S., Solomon doesn’t believe so. He said that Iranians can expand their power but they are not giant “gorillas”. He added that their economy is bad currently, but Iran is a master in inequivalent wars in which it leads Shiite militias.
He said that Iran wants a land bridge that links it to the Middle East starting from Iran, passing through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. But he believes that it all depends on the internal situation as no one believes Khamenei will remain the Supreme Leader for 20 years.