Turan.az -The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), Mohammed Javad Zarif, said that Iran wants to negotiate with the United States, but for this, Washington must lift economic sanctions against his country. The United States imposed sanctions on Tehran after they left the nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the world powers in 2015. The international agreement provides for a restriction of the Iranian program to enrich uranium, as well as the easing of sanctions.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that official Washington is ready to negotiate with Tehran without preconditions.Meanwhile, there was an information that America, through the mediation of Russia, offered Iran to hold talks at the level of foreign ministers of both countries. However, the press secretary of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Abbas Mousavi, denied these reports. However, despite this, some experts believe that the parties still conduct secret negotiations.Political commentator Syadryaddin Soltan spoke with ASTNA about the negotiations between the US and Iran, the sanctions, the situation in Iran against the background of tense relations between the two parties.
-The information that official Washington offered through Russia to start negotiations between the US and Iran at the level of foreign ministers has spread. True, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs later refuted this message. However, the recent statements by both parties about the proposal for negotiations have increased suspicion in this regard. Can secret negotiations be conducted between the US and Iran in some form in order to normalize relations?
-In the past 40 years, after the Iranian revolution, backstage talks have been held in various forms between Washington and Tehran. For example, during the Iran-Iraq war. Then the United States assisted Iran with arms and other measures. However, at the next stage, Tehran did not accept the conditions of Washington.
Similar attempts have been made in the last 15-20 years. For example, in Egypt, negotiations were held between the ex-foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Manouchehr Mottaki, and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Later, Iranian officials, presidents and the supreme leader of Iran have repeatedly sent letters to the presidents of the United States. The full content of these letters is unknown. However, from the available texts it follows that Iran complains about the United States and talks about some of its wishes. It is not known how reliable this is. In any case, correspondence or similar contacts of US officials with various structures of the Islamic Republic of Iran took place.
The current US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo sent a letter to the commander of the Special Forces “El-Quds” (Jerusalem) as part of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Lieutenant General Kasem Suleymani. This suggests that, if necessary, the parties have the opportunity to conduct direct negotiations in one form or another, even if not through diplomatic channels. The interests of the United States and Iran are expressed by the embassies of Switzerland in Tehran and Washington. In this context, Switzerland is also a country participating in the interests of the parties. One should not exclude that there were meetings between them in Syria and in Iraq. We cannot assert that in European countries or in Canada, there were no meetings of officials or representatives of any diplomatic channels of Iran and the United States. Just about, these negotiations are not reported. If there were no such negotiations, then in the past tense, America would have taken other actions against Iran. Thanks to these negotiations on these channels, the parties were able to solve a number of issues.
– Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran is ready to negotiate with the United States if they lift the sanctions and return to the 2015 agreement. Official Washington also stated that it is ready to negotiate with Tehran without any preconditions. Therefore, Iran has already begun to retreat. What drives Tehran to this? The answer is the possibility of the United States inflicting air strikes on Iran and the difficulties that will cause economic sanctions and claims that the sanctions will further strengthen.
-Relations between the US and Iran are developing either with increasing, then with decreasing tension. For example, after the signing of a well-known agreement in 2015, many believed that the relationship between these two irreconcilable enemies returned to normal. However, this did not happen, and at the next stage they became aggravated again. This tension is controlled: it is created either by the Islamic Republic of Iran (which then reduces it, which normalizes relations a little, leads to a change in oil prices), or the USA, but then friends and enemies are again determined.
The fact that Hassan Rouhani, individual officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the foreign minister put forward preconditions in connection with the negotiations is a sign that Tehran is not refusing the latter. Iran wants the US to give firm guarantees that exclude aggression and change of power in Iran. Tehran agrees with other things, as it was before. However, the US does not give such guarantees. Washington does not say that it does not want, does not intend to change the power in Iran, that is, they do not assert anything final. The tensions created by Iran in this type of issues, including the conditions being put forward, are mainly connected with thoughts about the future of the current government.
So at the heart of all these deviations, tensions, agreements on various issues lies the question of destinies, of the future of power. Earlier, Tehran stated that if Iran abandons its claims related to the nuclear program, Iraq and regional issues, as well as many of its projects, the United States must ensure that the power in Iran does not change.
In short, the essence of all these negotiations lies in the desire to preserve power. Actually, at the core of US sanctions is also the question of power, but they imply a change of power in Iran. The logic is this: the deterioration of the economic situation in the country reaches a critical level, financial problems arise, then a crisis of government and government sets in, a wave of protest raises in the country, society opposes the existing socio-economic and financial order, and eventually power is replaced.
The purpose of these sanctions is to prove that the current government in Iran is ill fated and that its relations with the world are unsatisfactory. The United States is trying to convey this to the Iranian authorities and the world. Unfortunately, in some cases, Tehran contributes to the promotion of the United States in this matter: for example, we recall the recent farce with an oil tanker in the Gulf.
-What is the situation in Iran against the background of these processes? Do these sanctions and new US statements increase tensions in the country? In general, what is the degree of discontent in Iran, and can it manifest itself in any form in the near future?
– External influences in Iran are always accompanied by protests. Over the past few months, there were no particularly large-scale protests in the country. The authorities, using the external pressure factor, are trying to suppress forces that are ready to protest. For example, the Iranian government recently announced that it has arrested 10 US CIA spies, or spies working in another country. This shows that in the face of growing external pressure, Tehran is trying to strengthen the atmosphere of fear and tension in the country. This gives rise to psychosis in the society; the number of people willing to emigrate from Iran is growing day by day. It has become very difficult to withstand the pressure of the existing regime. However, recent sharp protests have been noted.
It can be assumed that protests may begin in the coming months, by the end of the year. The fact is that the daily oil production in Iran for the first time in the last 30 years has fallen to 2,800,000 barrels. Consequently, we cannot exclude that the country’s economy may collapse. This can cause a deterioration of social conditions in the country, which, in turn, can lead to confrontation within the government. So far, the forces representing power in Iran have not entered into serious conflict, since this would also be a conflict in society between the political forces defending them. Therefore, in these processes in Iran is relatively calm.
-By the way, recently we are witnessing the strengthening of anti-Islamic forces in Iran. What is the reason? Could this have anything to do with these processes? Can the strengthening of anti-Islamic forces have any consequences in this country in the near future?
– Traditional Islam dominates in Iran. Itis not quite right to talk about anti-Islamic forces. In Iran, historically, people with independent thinking are called anti-Islamists. There are also numerous non-Islamic sects in Iran: Bahá”ís, Zoroastrians, traditional Christians, Jews, etc. The policy pursued by the current authorities, in some cases, forces people to oppose Islam. In Iran, rights related to religious freedom, in particular the rights of Bahá”ís, are violated by Zoroastrians.
If you pay attention to the statistics of recent years, we see that the number of emigrants from Iran is growing. From this point of view, there is not so much opposition to Islam-anti-Islam in Iran as protest actions against the existing regime. Some Iranian religious figures have repeatedly stated that those in power and acting under the name of Islam compromise this religion. This leads to the fact that the new generation is moving away from her Islam and is turning against it.
Therefore, these religious leaders call on the Iranian authorities to use less the name of the Islamic religion. For example, in the last few years, and in a recent speech in connection with social networks, Rouhani noted that the forces at the mercy are abusing the name of Islam. This is due not to anti-Islam in Iran, but to the activities of anti-regime forces.
– What is happening in South Azerbaijan against the background of these processes? Often we hear about the arrests of activists in South Azerbaijan. Is there any recovery there? Are these arrests an attempt to stop this activity?
– In South Azerbaijan, national activists have always fought for the restoration of their rights. This struggle subsides, and then flares up again. The Iranian authorities continue to exert pressure, arrest and persecute representatives of this national movement. In some cases, they even committed an attempt.
However, these arrests have nothing to do with the current situation. The Tehran regime believes that forces demanding the granting and observance of the national rights of South Azerbaijan may in the future create problems for it. Therefore, the regime increases the pressure on those who demand the granting of national-cultural rights to Azerbaijani Turks and arrest them. The reasons for this pressure, these persecutions lie not in the sanctions of the United States, but in demanding the Azerbaijani Turks living in Iran of their national rights. Because the struggle for these rights is stronger than the sanctions against Iran and external pressure on it. Therefore, it is important for Tehran to pursue, neutralize and arrest these people.
– What can happen in Iran in the near future?
– The main measures that the Iranian government should take by the end of the year should be easing sanctions and trying to respond positively to the conditions of the United States. Otherwise, 2020 will be more difficult for Iran. For over the past three years, Tehran could not take advantage of any area that fell under the sanctions, although after 2015 the sanctions were lifted. For example, despite the signing of a multi-million dollar agreement on airbuses, the conclusion of various oil contracts, Iran was unable to implement them. Sanctions against Iranian civil aviation, in force from 1995 until today, have been lifted. Sale of spare parts for Iranian civil aviation is prohibited.
The most difficult thing for Iran was the fact that this year sanctions were imposed against the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, and this was a new problem. The imposition of sanctions against Iranian large armed forces is very difficult for Iran. Therefore, in order to prolong the existence of their power, protect the future of the country and ensure the well-being of citizens, the Iranian authorities will strive for rapprochement with the West, with Europe. Otherwise, it will be very hard. Yet, there is the issue of a negative balance in Iran”s foreign policy. Iran in some cases creates tension, and then, removing it, wants to look like a winner. In this regard, the Iranian authorities are one of the main parties generating tensions. At the next stage, Tehran will take a number of steps to reduce this tension.