There is a saying that “any publicity is good publicity”, explained by cambridge english dictionary to mean that there is no such thing as negative publicity, as “it is better to receive negative publicity than no publicity at all”. Well, we know today that in the commercial world, negative publicity can kill a product, leaving no recovery. But in the political and public sphere – who knows.
The 72nd General Debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has opened, and it is quite clear already that Iran is starring as one of the key issues.
In the run-up towards the opening of the UNGA, and the expected meeting between president Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu, media reports speculated (see for instance aawsat) that the top Iranian issues to be discussed, behind the scenes, will be mainly two issues: the validity and continuation of the nuclear deal, and concern in relation to long term presence of Iran in Syria. They were right, partially so. These issues and more were discussed, but not only behind closed doors and in secret corridors.
In his speech, to be viewed in full on cnn, President Trump referred to the Iranian regime as a “corrupt dictatorship”, “murderous regime”, “depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos”. He related to subversive activity of Iran in Syria, Yemen and “throughout the Middle East”. In relation to the nuclear deal he defined it as “an embarrassment to the US”, and “one of the worst and one-sided transactions the US has ever entered”. Trump also referred to the support of terror and internal oppression.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, raised in full the issue of Iranian presence in Syria, stating: “We will act to prevent Iran from establishing permanent military bases in Syria for its air, sea and ground forces. We will act to prevent Iran from producing deadly weapons in Syria or in Lebanon for use against us..and we will act to prevent Iran from opening new terror fronts against Israel along our northern border. As long as Iran’s regime seeks the destruction of Israel, Iran will face no fiercer enemy than Israel”.
As documented in haaretz, In relation to the nuclear deal he said “the greater danger..by keeping the deal”, “fix it or nix it”, “getting rid of the sunset clause”.
The initial media responses to Trump’s words on Iran were the following. The usatoday and huffingtonpost interpreted Trump’s words as a clear indication that he will declare Iran out of compliance with the nuclear deal. the nowtheendbegins reported on how the liberals are freaking out, while slate described Trump’s speech as hostile_and_dangerous, projecting a “dark vision of the world”.
In this context, the media was correct in predicting that Iran will star in the UNGA. They were mistaken in the dimensions. The scope of the Iranian issue was much greater and more public than expected.