Under the questionable headline “At the UN Iran is a Powerhouse, Not a Pariah,” the FDD’s Claudia Rosett seems to exaggerate the actual effect of all Tehran’s efforts to impose its will on the rest of the world. As we’ve written before, there’s no doubt – as reflected in its press – that Iran views the UN (especially NY, Vienna and Geneva) as an arena worth investing in; no doubt it occasionally gets something truly concrete out of it; and no doubt its diplomats are handpicked, as Rosett points out:
“Iran populates its U.N. missions with smooth diplomats, some educated in the U.S. Its ambassadors tend to stay in their posts longer than do their U.S. counterparts, hosting parties and cultivating connections”
Still, the distance is great between effort and result. Just the other day the P5 – which led the way to several precedent Security Council resolutions against Tehran – pulled no punches in describing Iran as a serious threat to global peace and security. Furthermore, Tehran is increasing rebuked by senior officials, from the Secretary General down.
Remember when so much was made back in August of last year, when Iran began its three-year term as head of the Non-Alignment movement? How’s that turned out for them? Well, according to their ambassador in New York:
“NAM members ‘actual’ conduct different, despite signing statements.”
In short, a lot of cash thrown around, but the result not exactly as they envisioned.
Of course, we’re not belittling the need for vigilance vis-à-vis Iranian diplomacy – particularly in view of the question: what exactly constitutes Iranian diplomacy and an Iranian diplomat? This eye-opening piece recently published in the Arab world illuminates the point:
“Obviously, staff at the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been experiencing a kind of diplomatic schizophrenia. Iranians realize that the ministry does not control the diplomatic mission because of the overlap in its prerogatives.”
The article continues:
“It is as if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is isolated from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is true despite the fact that some 80 percent of the staff working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are directly linked to the Revolutionary Guard and are not linked to the ministry itself. Thus, the head of the diplomatic mission has no control over them.”
International diplomacy should definitely take this issue to heart when engaging with Tehran.
In the end, the Iranians – with the assistance of their aggressive media organs – like the west and its media to believe that they are a UN powerhouse. The reality on the ground is more of a mixed bag.