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Tehran Votes for Obama   

Al Hayat - 20 April, 2012
Author: Hassan Haidar

Iran's reputation for maneuvering is indisputable. Hence, there is an international consensus - based on all the previous experiences - that the inspiration of "moderation" which suddenly fell on the Iranian delegation negotiating over the nuclear issue is an exposed attempt at buying time, while its centrifuges are operating in full capacity to enrich uranium by 20%, as it has been announced.

Moreover, the majority of the states are convinced that through its presentation of proposals which were dubbed as being “bold” during the last round of negotiations, Iran was trying to make those negotiating with it believe that the acceptance – even if a reluctant one – of the alleged “peacefulness” of its program could be met with greater cooperation on its end. However, confirming its good intentions and commitment to its proposals or pledges would require a difficult, long and risky process, featuring the wasting of effort and time in the details in parallel to the non-dissipation of the real fears.

There is no doubt that those following Iranian affairs realize that the sanctions imposed by the West have started to be felt by the regime in Tehran, as its ability to sell its oil and cash its price – if it ever manages to sell it – is significantly on the decline. This problem is bound to escalate once Europe’s full boycotting of the Iranian oil sector comes into force in July, thus depriving Tehran not only of revenues, but also the necessary equipment to develop its production.

There is also the possibility of seeing the loosening of Washington’s grip which has so far been refusing to give Israel the green light to launch a military strike against Iran, although such a strike could not succeed without effective American participation.

This is probably the reason behind the new Iranian position, considering that beyond the apparent motives - of which everyone is aware - the Iranian command apparently wishes to “return the favor” to American President Barack Obama. Indeed, the latter is preoccupied with a heated presidential campaign growing fiercer by the day, and is being subjected to the pressures of the Jewish lobby and the conservative wing calling on him to strike Iran, which could provoke an acute increase in the oil prices and eliminate any chances he may have of getting reelected. Hence, Tehran believes it is necessary to prove that the current White House approach toward its nuclear file will be fruitful, and that Obama’s patience and focus on diplomacy is the right path to adopt despite his repetition of his non-exclusion of other options.

Moreover, Iran, which is trying to promote Nouri al-Maliki’s regime on the international level by proposing the staging of the next session of the nuclear negotiations in Baghdad, appreciates Washington’s rejection of any direct military intervention in Syria and even the arming of the Syrian opposition.

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that Obama’s stand was positive, and downplayed the impact of the sanctions and assured that the Americans will eventually change course when they figure out the futility of their position. In that same vein, prominent American newspapers spoke about a letter from Obama to Khamenei conveyed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan at the end of last month, and saying that Washington might accept Tehran’s continuation of a civil nuclear program in exchange for several guarantees, namely a commitment on its part that it will not try to acquire nuclear weapons.

And although none of the two parties confirmed the existence of such indirect negotiations, Tehran’s sudden flexibility reveals their progress, which represents in the end a vote in favor of Obama.
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