With the Iran crisis silly season expected to be shorter than usual this (northern hemisphere) summer due to government reshuffling in Tehran, respected IISS expert Mark Fitzpatrick took off for Israel to see what’s behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s latest statements on Iran.
What did he hear over there?
the West should not be taken in by appearances: Rowhani is a regime insider, who in any case is second fiddle to a grumpy old man; sanctions pressure must be tightened; engagement is not an end in itself; neither, for that matter, is a diplomatic deal unless it eliminates a latent capability to produce nuclear weapons.
To us these sound like reasonable points, but Fitzpatrick isn’t happy that Israel refuses to join the Rouhani party. He’s not alone; neither are other ex-administration officials such as Gary Sick and Nick Burns.
But we’ve come to expect more from Fitzpatrick, who’s demonstrated time and again a much more profound understanding of nuance in the Iranian crisis. Not like him to so eagerly hop on the bandwagon of Rouhani cheerleaders. And yet he did, at least this time.
Luckily, those in the know remain more sober, not falling into the trap the NYT‘s Thomas Erdbrink alluded to immediately following Iranian elections.
According to a recent item from the (anti-Netanyahu) Israeli daily Ha’aretz, the US assured Israel during consultations following Rouhani’s election that international pressure on Tehran would continue. This message was reinforced by UN ambassadorial appointee Samantha Powers at her recent Senate hearing.
Which makes sense, since the only thing that Rouhani has promised when it comes to the nuclear crisis is a change in style. The onus is on him – not the international community – to demonstrate a change in substance.
For your consideration, Mr. Fitzpatrick.