“The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen”

“‘The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen,” IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei has told the New York Times. ElBaradei’s comments come in light of Iran’s apparent unwillingness or even inability to accept the deal that their own diplomats negotiated with the P5+1 and the IAEA.

While the talks were successful in getting the IAEA access to Iran’s nuclear facility under construction in Qom, Iran’s government rejected the deal (verbally) on the grounds that they were not willing to trust Russia or France with the majority of their low-enriched uranium stockpile.

ElBaradei came up with a clever response, which was to find a third party country that both sides could trust that would hold the uranium – with Turkey appearing to be the most likely candidate.

However, instead of responding favorably to this deal, Iran simply responded with their own counter-proposal. It certainly plays into the narrative presented by CFR Iran expert Ray Takeyh on Friday:

In the coming months, Iran will no doubt seek to prolong negotiations by accepting and then rejecting agreed-upon compacts and offering countless counter-proposals. The United States and its allies must decide how to approach an Iranian diplomatic stratagem born out of cynical desire to clamp down on peaceful dissent with relative impunity.

International scrutiny remains trained on Iran’s nuclear program, but outside that glare, the structure and orientation of the Revolutionary Guards are changing dramatically. The regime in Tehran is establishing the infrastructure for repression. The leadership of the Guards and the paramilitary Basij force have been integrated and are much more focused on vanquishing imaginary plots by a (nonexistent) fifth column.

Takeyh then argues — as we have been — that human rights should should be elevated in the talks with Iran. Takeyh then takes it a step further:

Western officials would be smart to disabuse Iran of the notion that its nuclear infractions are the only source of disagreement. Iran’s hard-liners need to know that should they launch their much-advertised crackdown, the price for such conduct may be termination of any dialogue with the West.

Radio Free Liberty also talked to a number of reformists who argue any deal that ignores human rights will be fundamentally flawed and likely viewed with suspicion.

Reformist journalist Serajedin Mirdamadi, who campaigned for opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi ahead of the contentious June election, tells Radio Farda that a deal with Tehran that is solely focused on the nuclear issue will not be a lasting one.

Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo

    4 Responses to ““The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen””

  1. Someone says:

    Re: “The foreign policy apparatus in Iran has frozen”

    For the record, Trita Parsi warned of this possibility in late July:

    “…Iran currently is not in a position to negotiate. Some in Washington believe that the paralysis in Tehran has weakened Iran and made it more prone to compromise. But rather than delivering more, Iran’s government currently couldn’t deliver anything at all. The infighting has simply incapacitated Iranian decision makers.”

    “Iran’s lack of capacity creates a tremendous danger for the White House. Of all scenarios the Obama administration could end up facing — an Iran that refuses to come to the table, for example, or an Iran that only uses talks to play for time — the worst scenario is another one: where the parties begin talks according to the set timetable, but fail to reach an agreement due to an inability to deliver. If talks fail, U.S. policymakers will be left with increasingly unpalatable options as a result.”


  2. Pirouz says:

    First of all, Lloyd, the recent talks really didn’t have a direct impact on the UN inspection of Qom. Iran’s disclosure and subsequent communication with the IAEA were already addressing this procedure. So please, stop parroting the West’s skewed narrative in the MSM.

    Has Iran’s foreign policy apparatus frozen? Just because it won’t accept the West’s offer as-is, and offers counterproposals, what is so unusual about that? Isn’t this inherent in the nature of negotiation? And the fact that Iran’s leadership debates the issue, well isn’t that in the nature of an independent and republican form of government? (By the way, Matt, this really shoots down your past assertion that Iran is a “totalitarian state”.)

    ElBaradei’s recent suggestion of using Turkey as a go-between was previously put forward and Iran declined. So how can offering it a second time be considered clever?

    Ray Takeyh is all over the place in his view. It’s as if Iran attempted to link the nuclear issue with the issues of US military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, the civilian casualties of US drone attacks, and the prosecution of US officials responsible for torture in the name of the GWOT. What a muddy negotiation that would make! For gosh sake, guys, lets try to keep it real- shall we?

    Declining a proposal within the framework of negotiations shouldn’t necessarily be attributed to a lack of capacity. Is it a lack of capacity the US-Russia arms control talks haven’t produced immediate results? Or a lack of capacity the EU hasn’t inducted Turkey? No. So why is it just because Iran is undergoing its own decision making and negotiation process, so many in the West are rushing to believe its some kind of inherent weakness? Wishful thinking, maybe? Hardly the objective means required for initiating an objective analysis.

    And please spare us the “Iran playing for time” narrative. Remember that Iran fell victim to the West’s own “play for time” game following the Tehran Declaration and Paris Agreement, where the West’s insincerity to the negotiation process was utterly exposed after two long years.

    For additional information regarding the West’s “playing for time” and “moving the nuclear goalposts” tactics, read some of Cyrus Safdari’s analyses. You can start here:


  3. James says:

    You do bring a lot of valuable and good information to these conversations, but you should recognize you have a strong tendency to skew the information to favor Iran’s government.

    For example, allowing a limited debate within certain confines does not equal democracy or freedom. Far from it, Iran’s human rights abuses cannot be defended and the veneer of debate cannot hide the fact that Iran cannot claim to have a government that allows its people the freedom to really choose its course.

    As for citing all the US’s human rights abuses – I agree, the US has really screwed a lot of things up, especially under Bush. But two wrongs don’t make a right. America’s failings don’t mean we should silently accept abuses by others any more than you accept our own. Join Amnesty International and work to end these practices. Unlike in Iran, you won’t be arrested for doing so.

    As for your main argument that this does not show disarray on the Iranian government’s side, remember that the Iranians agreed to the proposal before all these problems arose.

  4. hass says:

    Actually James, Iran did NOT agree to proposal.

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Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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