As the now-postponed deadline for a nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers grows ever nearer, it’s unsurprising that Iran keeps singing the same tune, warning with a roar that the “untrustworthy” US should “make concessions to powerful Iran” (thanks, Brigadier General Yahya Rahim-Safavi, we were wondering who’s wearing the pants in the Middle East) while its “moderates” remain optimistic about the chances of reaching a deal (here’s looking at you, Zarif) with the very same partners Tehran says it doesn’t trust and can’t glean “benefits” from.
Meanwhile, the nuclear stance of the West, currently quaking in its boots at the mere mention of ISIS, has been more low-key – as a matter of fact, it was hardly visible in media reports in recent weeks. More visible have been a number of op-eds taking a closer look at Iran’s policies.
Some, like Al-Arabiya’s Camelia Entekhabi-Fard, have suggested Iran, conscience of the fact that bombs can’t feed people, is wisely – and harmoniously – playing a “win-win game” with the aim of reaping the rewards of both a nuclear deal and a more open foreign policy, though the well-documented friction between President Hassan Rouhani and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would suggest otherwise.
Meanwhile, three other op-eds have called the supposed “wisdom” of Iran’s policies into question. One, on the Lebanese Daily Star, urged Rouhani to address the long-term economic problems plaguing his country by changing the habit of making “repeated appeals to Shi’ite clergy for support” and eroding the authority of his own government. Another, on Energy Digital, noted that an Iranian renewable energy program would serve as a good alternative to both the nuclear program that has come under such scrutiny and sanctions, and to its finite dependency on oil. A third, on Gulf News, took a practically vitriolic tone, sharply berating Iran for investing in “failed countries … or extremist organizations” instead of putting its “abundance of resources” to good use to ensure Iranians’ well-being.
But really, all these assessments pale before the reality of the region: Iran says nothing as the “Great Satan” bombs Iraq, and Washington says nothing when Iran channels money and arms to Hezbollah, among other groups, in the struggle against ISIS. The situation has changed to the extent that a report on the decade-long stagnation of the UN’s nuclear probe barely registered in the news this week. In this politically ambiguous state of affairs, who knows what the nuclear talks may yield? Will Iran change, as the above op-eds suggest, or will the Middle East?