Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Fars (Persepolis) was the official capital of the Persian Empire, built in the time of Cyrus the Great, around 560 B.C.E. A farce is also a comedy. Iranian President Hasan Rouhani's speech at the U.N. was able to link the two.
The Iranian farce enjoys a steady audience that takes it seriously. Even U.S. President Barack Obama is changing his tone toward Iran. Obama is choosing, once more, to give diplomacy a chance. And again -- just as he did five years ago -- he made that peculiar link between the Palestinian issue and the nuclear threat, even though reality has proven that the two are not connected.
In his speech, Obama instructed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to pursue dialogue with Iran. The foreign ministers of the six world powers are scheduled to meet with the Iranian foreign minister on Thursday. This time, we will not witness the impromptu handshake we saw between Secretary of State Colin Powell and his Iranian counterpart at the General Assembly in 2001 -- this time the handshake will be official.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with the foreign ministers of Italy, Britain and the Netherlands on Wednesday, as well as with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who was very excited about the Iranian minister's "energy and tenacity." This is the same Ashton who was equally excited by Zarif's predecessor, Saeed Jalili, and who has been heading the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West since October 2009. The last meeting took place in April, in Kazakhstan. Only Borat was missing to make the farce official. But the Americans are enthusiastic.
Obama's speech at the U.N. was less than exciting. Reality has proven to him and us both that pretty words do not change the world. Obama, by the way, stated that he does not believe that "America or any nation should determine who will lead Syria." The Egyptian delegation to the General Assembly in New York must have been sorry that he did not think the same about Egypt.
Obama has a far less romantic view of the Middle East these days and he is hoping that Iran, off all things, will keep him from being a lame duck until his second term in office is over. Obama needs to show that he has accomplished something -- just like Rouhani, who wishes to see the sanctions lifted. It is no wonder that the Iranian courtship of the U.S. is working.
Iran has been given an American line of diplomatic credit. Is it because Rouhani has admitted that Tehran will continue to pursue its nuclear program? Is it because just like his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he claims that the nuclear program is peaceful?
American political commentator Charles Krauthammer noted recently that in his Washington Post op-ed, Rouhani stressed the "culture of peace" promoted by Iran -- the same Iran that has an official "Death to America Day." The children of Iran need not worry -- it does not look like the day off they get on that day it will be voided any time soon. The ayatollahs' Iran will not part with the "Great Satan" -- or with its nuclear program -- easily.