Obama’s re-elec­tion deal with Iran

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Reza Kahlili

Ever since Pres­i­dent Obama took of­fice, the idea of a grand bar­gain with Iran has oc­cu­pied his mind, and still to­day he be­lieves the Is­lamic regime will be kind to him and ne­go­ti­ate. He is woe­fully mis­taken.

Mr. Obama’s grand bar­gain, re­in­forced by his in­ner circle, calls for Iran to give up the idea of a nu­clear bomb while con­tin­u­ing to pur­sue its peace­ful nu­clear pro­gram, help re­solve the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and re­con­sider its ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­i­ties world­wide.

Ev­ery re­cent U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion had tried in vain to ne­go­ti­ate with the rad­i­cals in Iran. Mr. Obama re­mains blind to the fact that any ne­go­ti­a­tions or sanc­tions will fail be­cause the Is­lamist regime is ide­o­log­i­cally com­mit­ted to the ex­pan­sion of its ideals.

Last Fe­bru­ary, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and the lead­ers of the Is­lamic regime held se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions over an agree­ment that would pres­sure Is­rael not to at­tack Iran, avoid harm­ing the frag­ile U.S. econ­omy and help boost Mr. Obama’s re-elec­tion chances. The agree­ment called for recog­ni­tion of Iran’s right to peace­ful nu­clear en­rich­ment and that its nu­clear pro­gram would have no mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions.

Mr. Obama re­quested col­lab­o­ra­tion with Iran through three chan­nels: a let­ter to the supreme leader, Ay­a­tol­lah Ali Khamenei; a mes­sage to the Ira­nian U.N. del­e­gate; and a mes­sage through Swiss Am­bas­sador Livia Leu Agosti in Tehran in a meet­ing with Ira­nian For­eign Min­istry of­fi­cials.

Af­ter the Fe­bru­ary talks, the U.S. took two steps in ac­cord with the agree­ment. First, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, an­nounced that Iran is a “ra­tio­nal ac­tor” and that it is not af­ter a nu­clear bomb. Then, just as Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu was to arrive in Wash­ing­ton for talks with Mr. Obama about Iran, a con­sen­sus of 16 U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies was made pub­lic: Iran had stopped ef­forts to build a bomb.

For his part, Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei an­nounced that Iran had never sought and would never seek nu­clear weapons, as it re­gards their pos­ses­sion a great sin.

The meet­ings be­tween the Is­lamic regime and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ued, with sev­eral held in Wash­ing­ton with the regime’s sur­ro­gates, which re­sulted in a se­cret meet­ing in Doha, Qatar, be­tween Ira­nian and U.S. of­fi­cials.

Ac­cord­ing to a source in Iran, a three-per­son del­e­ga­tion on be­half of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion trav­eled to Qatar about Oct. 1 and met with Ira­nian coun­ter­parts, in­clud­ing Ali Ak­bar Ve­lay­ati, the for­mer for­eign min­is­ter and a close ad­viser to Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei on in­ter­na­tional mat­ters, and As­ghar He­jazi, the head of the in­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity di­vi­sions in Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei’s of­fice.

In that meet­ing, the U.S. del­e­ga­tion urged an an­nounce­ment, even if only on a tem­po­rary nu­clear deal, be­fore the U.S. elec­tions in or­der to help Mr. Obama get re-elected. A Rom­ney pres­i­dency, the del­e­ga­tion said, would fa­vor Is­rael, while Mr. Obama has stood up to Is­rael against at­tack­ing Iran. The regime’s del­e­gate was urged to un­der­stand that if Iran does not stand by Mr. Obama, Is­rael will at­tack.

Mr. Ve­lay­ati in­formed the Amer­i­cans that Ay­a­tol­lah Khamenei needed Mr. Obama’s writ­ten agree­ment en­sur­ing the guar­an­tees dis­cussed and only then would he au­tho­rize an an­nounce­ment by Ira­nian of­fi­cials on a break­through.

The guar­an­tees would en­sure the regime’s right to peace­ful en­rich­ment, quickly re­move many of the sanc­tions, ac­cept the po­si­tion that Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram does not have a mil­i­tary di­men­sion, and re­lieve in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on the regime while it con­tin­ues its nu­clear pro­gram. Also, Amer­ica would an­nounce that the killing of Ira­nian nu­clear sci­en­tists was the work of a for­eign coun­try, though Is­rael would not be named, in or­der to in­crease le­gal pres­sure on Is­rael.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the Doha meet­ing, there was a lot of pos­i­tive en­ergy from Tehran and Wash­ing­ton. Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Ali Ak­bar Salehi an­nounced that Iran was now ready to talk and even halt parts of its en­rich­ment if guar­an­tees were given. U.S. Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, in an in­ter­view in Kaza­khstan, said sanc­tions could be lifted im­me­di­ately if Tehran worked with the world pow­ers to ad­dress ques­tions about its nu­clear pro­gram.

The New York Times re­ported that as a re­sult of these in­tense se­cret ne­go­ti­a­tions, Iran for the first time had agreed to a one-on-one meet­ing with the United States to ne­go­ti­ate over its nu­clear pro­gram, which the White House im­me­di­ately de­nied. In an ef­fort to con­trol the dam­age brought on by the reve­la­tion of the se­cret meet­ing, the White House gave the im­pres­sion that Mr. Obama’s poli­cies were work­ing and that the Is­lamic regime was ready to ne­go­ti­ate.

On Oct. 23, White House press sec­re­tary Jay Car­ney said Mr. Obama is open to hav­ing bi­lat­eral talks with Iran about its nu­clear pro­gram, but the United States has not sched­uled any ne­go­ti­a­tions. The fol­low­ing day, ac­cord­ing to Iran’s Fars News Agency, Qatari Prime Min­is­ter Ha­mad bin Jas­sim bin Jaber bin Muham­mad al Thani de­nied that a se­cret meet­ing be­tween Ira­nian and Amer­i­can of­fi­cials had taken place in his coun­try. He was re­act­ing to re­ports by Al Ara­biya news agency that a se­cret meet­ing in­deed had oc­curred in Qatar.

Af­ter four years of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, Iran is much closer to ob­tain­ing the bomb and has achieved the know-how to be­come nu­clear-armed.

With in­ter­na­tional sanc­tions putting the Ira­nian econ­omy into a free fall and ri­ots break­ing out, a bet­ter strat­egy would be to tighten the screws with even harsher sanc­tions and to side with the Ira­nian peo­ple when they rise up against their gov­ern­ment. A ma­jor­ity of Ira­ni­ans de­test the bru­tal mul­lah-driven regime and yearn for free­dom. World peace de­pends on it. Reza Kahlili is a pseu­do­nym for a for­mer CIA op­er­a­tive in Iran’s Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guards and au­thor of the award-win­ning book “A Time to Be­tray” .

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