The debate of Al-Hurra channel through the “Asima Al Decision” program raised this topic with Paul Pillar, former assistant director of the Central Intelligence Agency. and Richard Goldberg, a senior advisor at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington. In part of the episode, the Israeli researcher, Meir Masri, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also participated from Jerusalem.
“Artificial elections”: a member of the “Death Commission” is president of Iran
Paul Pillar says that “Khamenei won what he wanted” in the elections, and he sent a message to the Iranians and the world that he wants to “continue his approach through Ibrahim Raisi,” who may later become Supreme Leader to succeed Khamenei. The Iranian Supreme Leader “has fulfilled his wish while Iranians are deprived of a free choice in non-free elections.”
Richard Goldberg considers that “not free elections, but a choice of the president from the guide of the repressive dictatorial regime” in Iran. Thus, Khamenei’s message to the world is that he “will not succumb to any Western demands.”
For his part, a senior US State Department official said the elections were “prefabricated and do not reflect the will of the Iranian people.” The American-Iranian expert, Karim Sadjadpour, believes that the election of Ibrahim Raisi suggests that Tehran will “resist the Biden administration’s efforts to negotiate a subsequent agreement that addresses Iran’s missile program and its regional ambitions.”
While the American researcher, Susan Maloney, calls on the United States to be “clear and frank: Ibrahim Raisi cannot be whitewashed”, who is responsible for numerous human rights violations.
Washington: My boss is just a name, not a “decision maker”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced that US President Joe Biden and his administration believe that “the decision-maker in Iran is the supreme leader; this is the situation before the elections, this is the situation today, and it will continue to be so perhaps in the future.” Does this mean that Washington is not interested in who the Iranian president is?
Richard Goldberg says that the weakness of the presidency in Iran is well known, and all critics of the nuclear agreement with Iran said that to former President Barack Obama, but he insisted that the Iranians elected a moderate president, Hassan Rouhani. Accordingly, after signing the agreement in 2015, Obama returned billions of dollars to the “Iranian regime that sponsors terrorism.” Today, Goldberg continues, “there is a murderer, not a moderate,” in the Iranian presidency.
What interests Paul Pillar is that “people worried about the evil nature of the Iranian regime want to abandon the agreement that made this program subject to limitations and limits.” Thus, those objecting to it prefer that the Iranian regime return to enriching uranium as it pleases, according to Pilar. From the Israeli perspective, there is no difference between a reformist or a conservative Iranian president, because the problem is not with the presidents, but with the system. An Iranian president is equivalent to a prime minister in a presidential system, says Israeli researcher Meir Masri.
Biden and US sanctions on my president: Cancellation or tightening?
Paul Pillar says that the election of Ibrahim Raisi as Iran’s president does not constitute a reason to lift US sanctions on him. He adds that Washington can only deal with the Iranian foreign minister. As for Richard Goldberg, he calls for “increasing US sanctions” on Ibrahim Raisi, so that the world knows that America does not accept “murderers becoming heads of state” even in dictatorial regimes.
As for the Iranian activist, Masih Alinejad, she sent this message to the US administration through her Twitter account: In any normal country, a person like Ibrahim Raisi should be tried, but in Iran he becomes a president; My message to the Biden administration wishing to reach an agreement with Iran: Ibrahim Raisi is responsible for the execution of thousands of (Iranian) political prisoners. In 2019, it was blacklisted by the US Treasury. We call him the gallows judge.
In turn, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy believes that “Trump’s sanctions on Iran, including those on Ibrahim Raisi, have not changed Iran’s behavior for the better; in fact, it has become worse.”
Returning to the “nuclear” agreement with Iran: the necessity “is not enough”
John Bolton believes that the election of Ibrahim Raisi “presents an opportunity for Biden to undo the return to the nuclear agreement” with Iran. Bolton expects Biden to miss this opportunity, due to his administration’s insistence on reviving the 2015 agreement, and the US president’s disregard for the pressure cards imposed on Tehran give America pressure, according to John Bolton, the former US national security adviser.
As for the Republican minority leader in the US Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, he refuses that “changes at the level of Iranian leadership will push the White House to rush to revive the failed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program” signed under former US President Barack Obama. Richard Goldberg insists that the election of Ibrahim Raisi will complicate the Vienna negotiations, and accordingly, it is necessary that “President Biden reconsider negotiations with Iran because they will not lead to a better agreement,” Goldberg said. For his part, Paul Pillar believes that an agreement with Iran is “still possible” despite the election of Ibrahim Raisi. And that there is no “mythical or mythical” alternative to the 2015 agreement to control the Iranian nuclear program, which escaped from all controls when former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement and adopted the failed policy of maximum pressure on Iran, according to Pilar, who calls for settling differences before lifting US sanctions on Iran.
Goldberg opposes any lifting of US sanctions on the Iranian regime, because that would lead to a flow of money to Tehran, and Washington would lose the ability to control Iran’s missile program. While Pilar believes that the discussion of the Iranian missile program should “take place within a broader approach at the level of the Gulf” as a whole. In this regard, Meir Masri says that Israel is seeking to convince President Biden that Iran has repeatedly violated the nuclear agreement before Trump withdrew from it in 2018. And that Israel wants to “seriously address the Iranian ballistic missile program, which poses a great danger to Israel,” as the Israeli researcher puts it .
But what matters, according to Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, is whether the Iranian regime as a whole is prepared to make verifiable commitments to place limits on its nuclear program.
While the Vienna negotiations continue regarding a return to the joint commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the second major challenge before the US administration remains, “Iran’s new nuclear”, which is represented by the missile systems and armed militias supported by the Iranian regime, which operate in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and constitute – in the eyes of America – a threat to the stability of the Middle East, and to the American forces operating there. Therefore, the US administration considers that the return to the nuclear agreement “is the beginning, not the end”, because Washington has many issues that raise its concerns about Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the region and the world.