Heading into the US midterm elections, the Biden administration’s message on Iran claimed that efforts to revive the Iran accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), would be the last thing on their minds. Last month, US special envoy for Iran, Robert Murray, repeated the same thing about the talks with Tehran being “off the agenda.” Instead, Murray and other spokespersons insisted the administration’s focus was on the protests in Iran.
This is not to say that elections are unimportant. They are important, but they are not so important, and certainly not in this context. rice field.
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In the House, Republicans seem poised to regain control despite having a much smaller majority than expected. In addition to pro forma hearings in both houses, the Republican House of Representatives will conduct a congressional inquiry, which will inevitably result in a narrow, mostly partisan vote for the JCPOA in the House.
That House action will be ignored by the White House and dismissed by the mainstream American media as nothing more than performative partisanship – and they will have a point. There are few avenues for serious action, especially given the Democrats’ reluctance to break with Biden and Obama.
In the Senate, there remains an outside possibility for the Republican Party to win a one-seat majority. However, her current 50/50 split is likely to hold, with the Democrats having an equal or greater chance. If Democrats win the runoff votes in Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, they could even increase her current majority by one seat. Continued democratic control of the Senate means the regime’s Iranian agenda is effectively smooth sailing in Congress.
Ultimately, therefore, the question of whether or not to restore a deal with Iran, as Biden has long promised, hinges on whether Iran says yes.
Election year messages aside, the Biden team remains fully committed to both the JCPOA and the overall Iran policy envisioned by former President Obama, who continues to be the driving force behind the Democratic Party’s attitude toward the Middle East. there is With the midterm elections already set back, the final two years of Biden’s first term will be filled with the administration’s commitment to closing deals to solidify what Obama and his supporters want to portray. May go into overdrive. Credit to former President Mount Rushmore.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Khani leaves after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting in Vienna, Austria, on November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
The Biden administration has not been prevented from re-entering the deal just because Congress would say no. They have been withheld because Iranians have so far refused to say yes. So far, it has wasted an alarming amount of high-level bandwidth on negotiations and flattery that required top-level approval but yielded no action on the Iranian side. The regime’s desperation has been fueled by fears that the longer the process drags on, the more variables are likely to emerge, complicating the regime’s public attitudes, if not its actual policy.
Indeed, two such variables have emerged in recent months: relentless protests in Iran and Iran’s military involvement in Ukraine, including recently providing Vladimir Putin with a number of drones. involvement. Both of these developments complicate the administration’s message on issues that are now central to the Democratic Party’s identity politics agenda, and the party’s domestic agenda.
The fact that the protests in Iran were sparked by a woman who was beaten to death for not covering her hair puts the administration in a particularly uncomfortable position for Democratic voters. The regime’s relentless pursuit of a deal with the repressive mullahs, amplified by Murray’s cold, almost antisocial embrace of the Iranian regime, required a calculated adjustment of the message. Enter Barack Obama.
The former president laid out a new message for the administration, first in a statement on the protests and then in an interview. Together, Obama’s statements provided the Biden campaign with a public relations roadmap that the administration followed closely. Instead of changing policy, verbally expressing solidarity with protesters, Obama doubled down and used lawyer-like language to explain why he turned his back on the 2009 Iranian protests. explained and reconfirmed the sanity of the JCPOA.
In other words, an Obama-led change in message is not a change in policy. Rather, it is a means of deflecting criticism of the policies so far, and the administration does not seem to intend to change. Obama used this same tactic for years to manage his unloved position on Syria, which he understood to be Iran’s “fairness.” Obama never whitelisted the price of dealing with Iran. The price included the death of 500,000 Syrians.
So it’s no surprise that Obama and Biden’s team are willing to tolerate Iran oppressing women and overtly arming Vladimir Putin. Despite the new message, Washington has assumed that Iran will return to the deal as soon as it shows some flexibility.
Thus, despite the government’s clear commitment to embedding gender concerns at all levels of its foreign policy and to openly arming Vladimir Putin, the Obama-Biden team believes Iran will violently oppress women. It is not surprising that they seem willing to tolerate…otherwise portrayed as war criminals and archenemy of the Western world at large. In fact, even after being forced to take action and fine-tune its message for these developments, the US government made the assumption that it would return to the deal as soon as Iran showed some flexibility.
Another wild card in the JCPOA, aside from continued Iranian resistance, is Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in Israel. Those who have worked for the Obama administration and are now working for the Biden administration see scenarios in which Netanyahu acts alone or in concert with other regional powers who, like Israel, loathe and fear US regional restructuring plans. have always feared Both Tehran and Washington recognize their weakness to take military action against Iran’s nuclear sites and dump the JCPOA in the trash. If such a strike were to occur, it would undoubtedly appear to offer a better moment than any in the last decade — that moment may not come again.
But as the past decade has shown, when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program, talks are cheap and actions have so far proved too costly for regional actors to bear for themselves. I’m here. Indeed, the infamous boast by Obama officials that Netanyahu is a “fucking bastard” was precisely in the context of deterring and defeating him over his actions against Iran. The US administration will again try to fend off and sabotage this scenario, working to get Israel out of balance with the Palestinians and their “regional integration” plans. Particular attention will be paid to what opportunities Netanyahu presents to Saudi Arabia. Especially in Lebanon, the regime will continue to press for funding the regional integration agenda. Ultimately, the expectation that the U.S. government would suddenly abandon Obama’s trademark policy was not based on a pragmatic assessment of the Iranian regime or the way power works in the region, but rather wishful thinking. So local actors who want change will have to pay for it themselves.
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