In light of past experience, this was a predictable ploy. Every time the noose tightens around Iran’s neck, it pulls a rabbit out of its hat in order to buy some more time and deceive the international community. However, after some political maneuvers and delays, the US managed in recent weeks to secure international support for a fourth round of harsher sanctions against Tehran.
The “deal” signed with Brazilian and Turkish mediation is yet another deceptive ploy by Tehran meant to torpedo the American plan. Yet for the time being, Obama and his partners have not bought into it. Although the negotiations on the new sanctions had not been completed, the latest deal forced Obama to wake up and accelerate his plan.
The president had no other choice but to immediately present the Security Council with a draft agreement on harsher sanctions; otherwise, the strategy he formulated in order to stop the Iranian bomb – a strategy that as it is did not bring any results thus far – would have collapsed completely.
Iran thought that bringing in Turkey and Brazil in an effort to resolve the disagreement would crush the American initiative or at least sabotage it, yet in practice the deal may prompt the opposite result.
The Iranian ploy is so transparent and crude that nobody in the world buys into it, with the exception of its own initiators and Iran supporters worldwide. Moreover, the Great Powers are infuriated that second-tier states such as Turkey and Brazil are trying to dictate the terms to them. It’s also possible that the latest ploy was simply the last straw.
Obama’s challenge, opportunity
Turkey and Brazil are currently Security Council members and will make an effort to protect the deal. The weak links, Russia and China, which only agreed to approve watered-down sanctions, may exploit the situation in order to take the initiative and press Iran to accept the West’s terms. These include a freeze on uranium enrichment in Iran, enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes outside of Iran – but not in the suspect Turkey – and the provision of answers to the IAEA and acceptance of its monitoring terms.
Iran is engaged in an all-out psychological war against the US and the battle for the bomb has just moved up a notch. Tehran is highly experienced in “Persian Bazaar-style” negotiations and proved that it’s more capable than its rivals when it comes to this war of nerves. Indeed, Iran may pull more rabbits out of its hat before a substantive sanctions proposal comes up for a vote.
Meanwhile, Obama is facing a challenge to his nuclear strategy, his international leadership, and his ability to manage crises. He has an opportunity to boost America’s status in the world in general, and in the Middle East in particular. The question is whether he’ll be wise enough to take advantage of it.
The writer is a Political Science and Communication lecturer and a US expert at Bar-Ilan University