Is a deal with the U.S. in Iran’s interest?

The “unprecedented enthusiasm” of Western diplomats after the talks in Geneva suggests they received unexpected concessions from the Iranians.

“Why is the enemy so happy?” said Hossein Shariatmadari in Kayhan (Iran). That can’t be good. After the talks last week in Geneva between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security -Council—the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, and China—plus Germany, Western diplomats bubbled over with praise for Iran’s “credibility” and “reasonableness” in negotiations over its nuclear programs. This “unprecedented enthusiasm” in official remarks and in the Western press suggests that Iran’s enemies “have either secured or have been promised significant concessions which they did not expect.” That would explain why the Iranian negotiating team has refused to release details of the negotiations to the Iranian press. We have capitulated—“this is the bitter fact that has to remain confidential!”

Surely we should trust Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his negotiating team to get this right, said Massoud Razavi Faqih in Shargh (Iran). The economy is being stifled by the international sanctions imposed on Iran because of our nuclear programs. We elected President Hassan Rouhani to get those sanctions lifted, and even Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for “heroic flexibility” on this topic. Besides, if Rouhani’s negotiating team sold us out, then why are the Israelis so upset over the talks?

They aren’t the only ones who don’t relish a rapprochement between Iran and the West, said Ali Nazari in Etemaad (Iran). Many players have a stake in Iran’s continued isolation. The Arab League fears that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states “will be marginalized once ties between Iran and the West are restored.” Russia and China, too, have “taken advantage” of tension between Iran and the U.S., and would like to continue doing so. Then there are the domestic opponents, including “subversive foreign-backed opposition groups” like the People’s Mujahedeen and, on the other side of the spectrum, “domestic extremists” who think Rouhani is too moderate.

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Some Americans, too, oppose normalization with Iran, said Paul Gillespie in The Irish Times. Saudi Arabia and Israel have “allies in the U.S. Congress” who are hostile to any deal. And remember that neoconservatives killed a deal with Iran just a decade ago. Back in 2004, Rouhani, who was then chief nuclear negotiator, offered the U.S. a “grand bargain” that would have exchanged a nuclear deal and recognition of Israel for diplomatic relations, trade, and access to technology. But the Bush administration “dismissed it in the euphoria of the Iraq invasion and neoconservative enthusiasm for regime change.” That disappointment pushed Iran to elect the hard-line Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who sped up the nuclear program. Now, with both countries under new leadership, “the moment seems right for a realignment.” Could peace with Iran be Obama’s great legacy?

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