By: Firouzeh Afsharnia
News broke out over the weekend that a deal was finally struck in beautiful lakeside Geneva.
Well. Technically, it’s a deal to work towards a deal in six months. So you might argue what’s the big deal? But after 34 years of silent treatment, crippling sanctions and relentless threats of war by irresponsible crazies with way too much clout in the U.S. Congress; a deal to have a deal is a really big deal.
Within minutes the airwaves filled up with news, chatter and commentary; everyone claiming to have their finger on the left or right pulse of the truth.
Joy and relief on one side; rebuke and disgust on the other. The indefatigable NIAC duo, Trita Parsi and Reza Marashi provided minute by minute updates for what played more suspenseful than a Hollywood blockbuster, and finally posted “Congratulations!” — then their ecstatic beaming photos captioned: “….if you’re wondering how happy we are!”
I clicked that “like” button over and over, more than anytime I remember, brimming with optimism in spite of my reservations toward the Islamic regime — even feeling a certain fondness for Mr. Zarif, who in a PR video earlier that week, had extended a reconciliatory hand in tandem with stressing mutual respect and insisting on all rights to peaceful enrichment for his nation under the NPT. I liked his tone.
The text of the agreement was released. Iran would dilute their stockpile of enriched uranium; halt the installation of new centrifuges as well as the construction of the Arak reactor site; and allow intrusive international inspections by the IAEA.
Sounds like a giant step. Whether it was the force of sanctions or the voice of the moderates, Presidents Rouhani and Obama both claimed victory. Whoever needs to pat themselves on the back — be my guest. That’s the nature of good diplomacy.
Conservative hawks denounced the accord as a sell out! What exactly was being sold out is unclear since the ultimate deal is months away. The Saudis vying for regional dominance rushed to stand with Israel — a laughable alliance in itself — warning the White House against negotiating with the dangerous Iranians in cynical disregard to the fact that one is the prime incubator of the Jihadi movement, complicit in the continuing Syrian carnage and holder of the most dismal of human rights records; the other, serial violator of international law and of basic human rights of millions in the occupied territories.
Netanyahu called it a “historic mistake” after his intense lobby offensive failed to derail the talks. He drew on Jewish history – again – to invoke Israel’s security concerns, evidently clueless to the basic principle that the security of Israel without the security of its neighbors is a fantasy. John Bolton, the mother of all – sorry – the father of all intransigent war hawks called for nothing short of bombing Iran.
Predictably, the U.S. congress scrambled for a new round of sanctions at the run up to negotiations, leading one to believe that not one of them has passed a test in Diplomacy 101. Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois went so far as to say …Israel is the reason he ran for the Senate. ”… I am totally dedicated to the survival of the state of Israel.” Surely this is treason if you substitute any other name for “Israel.”
If the chorus line of the belligerents should prove anything, it is the one truism that concern for human rights in Iran is not on anyone’s agenda. Not really. Not even for many in the Iranian diaspora who seem more entangled in an ideological debate over Persian vs. Arab; and Moslem vs. Zoroastrian; and whose most hated American President in U.S. History is Jimmy Carter – the only President who ran on a platform of human rights.
Many in the diaspora have instead found new love for the State of Israel on the premise that the enemy of their enemy must surely be their friend. They echo the same tired old hard lines on permanent replay by the neo-cons who’s foreign policy rhetoric is all of two words: Sanctions and War. Why not! Some argue. Anything to dislodge the Mullahs. Then our people shall be free! “Inshallah the day will come to see a mullah hanging from every tree on Pahlavi Street.” – An interesting strategy towards Democracy.
The voices are clear. On one side, proponents of peace and moderation looking for a way out of a 34 year old impasse with an ear to the wave of reform and view to new possibilities.
On the other; the intransigence of ideology, real-politik and self-interest. From the hard line coalition of Netanyahu in the Knesset posturing against a permanent enemy; to the U.S. congress who depends on campaign support from the powerful AIPAC; — from Gulf nations vying for regional dominance to the U.S. war economy aching for another fix; — and finally to members within Iran’s own diaspora who hate the Islamic Republic more than they love their fellow Iranians – each have their own rationale, and none of it about the rights of those living under artificial hardships imposed by a foreign government. New York times reported even the currency traders in Tehran Manouchehri Square are hoping for more sanctions. They say the Ahmadinejad days were fantastic for business.
But if there is a global barometer on this subject, Financial Times headlines provided a clue when it reported first thing this week that Iran nuclear deal pushed oil prices lower. And Reuters news flash came in that Israeli stocks gained. They do say markets know best.
Meanwhile within hours of the deal, the haunting bold letters of the Green movement – WHERE IS MY VOTE – again went viral; this time with the letters amended: …….HERE IS MY VOTE !