May 30, 2017

NOR DID THE BRITS LIKE AMERICA FOR A WHILE:

A Turning Point for Iran? (Christopher R. Hill, 5/30/17, Project Syndicate)

In Rouhani and Raisi, Iranian voters faced a stark choice. Raisi has a well-deserved reputation as a hardline cleric and former prosecutor with anti-Western views. Had he been elected, the future of the Iranian nuclear deal with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany) might have been called into question.

The high voter turnout in the election - more than 75% - suggests that Iranians do not want to turn away from the deal. While most households have not benefited from the slow lifting of international sanctions, and unemployment remains high, they remain willing to trust Rouhani to deliver on his promise to improve ordinary Iranians' livelihoods.
But it will be up to Iranians themselves to push for the reforms they need. It is clear that neither the Sunni Arab world nor the current US government is betting on - or even rooting for - Rouhani's success.

In recent history, the US-Iran relationship has been particularly fraught. In 1979, after an uprising against Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his dreaded SAVAK secret police, Iranian mobs seized the American embassy. They accused American diplomats of espionage, and held them for 444 days. After a long, delicate negotiating process, the hostages were finally set free, on the day of President Ronald Reagan's inauguration. Since then, Iran has never apologized for the hostage episode; and the United States has never forgiven Iran.

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, many observers, especially in the Arab world, believed that the removal of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-minority regime would enhance Iran's position in the region. In the aftermath of the invasion, Shia Iraqi militias, which Iran had financed and armed with sophisticated explosive devices, regularly attacked US troops. These militias were aided by the Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guard's special forces unit, which took its direction from Iran's religious leadership.

Iran never acknowledged its complicity in the attacks on US forces in Iraq. Not surprisingly, many senior US military leaders' views toward Iran have been influenced by that brutal period. That is certainly true of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general.

Posted by at May 30, 2017 8:08 AM

  

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