The stalemate in the nuclear talks with Iran

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

After several months of ups and downs, the Vienna talks are at a standstill, and the future is unclear. Although negotiations to lift the sanctions were expected to be concluded before Iran’s June 2021 presidential election, this did not happen. 

“Now there is a big question mark over the fate of the JCPOA,” said Robert Mali, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, in an interview with Politico on August 28. Meanwhile, the country is in an economic crisis, and the people are suffering from skyrocketing prices, creating another security risk. An example of heightened risk for the regime occurred during the recent night protests where people shouted “Khamenei’s death” on the rooftops, protesting power outages. Several large demonstrations took place in Khuzestan province, protesting the lack of water. Security forces killed several protestors while attempting to break up the protests.

Economic collapse is primarily due to rampant corruption and the loss of manufacturing resources, not the sanctions, as the regime’s authorities claim. Even for a short period, however, easing sanctions may help the regime resolve some of its livelihood issues and avoid the risk of other uprisings temporarily. What are the obstacles to lifting the sanctions? 

What are the obstacles?
The Iranian regime wants to reinstate the 2015 JCPOA, but Western countries, especially the U.S. government, insist on a new 2021 JCPOA. A new 2021 JCPOA, in which the Iranian regime renounces its involvement in the region and its missile programs and respects human rights. These new conditions are the ones the regime is not willing to abide by or accept.

Since its inception, the Iranian regime, alien to the values of the 21st century, is unable to meet the economic, political, and cultural demands of its people. It depends upon the brutal repression of the Iranian people and intervention or terrorism in the region to maintain power for 42 long years. Due to the volatile situation within Iranian society and the high level of discontent and dissatisfaction, the regime knows any kind of regress from the current oppression will lead to the eventual fall of the regime. 

According to some analysts close to the regime, the regime cannot even accept a “win-win” compromise to “eliminate the security risk of an economic crisis.” In this situation, when “the people are gravely suffering from economic hardship, and more and more of them are becoming more disappointed with the 1979 revolution, the enemy, the hypocrites (MEK), are not sitting idle and are making the most of this dangerous situation.” The Mojahedin, or MEK, have been the sworn enemies of the mullahs for forty-two years, seeking to replace the Islamic Republic with a secular government and gender equality. In recent years, the MEK has enjoyed widespread support among young people, especially the women of Iran. According to Iran’s intelligence authorities, the MEK leader, Maryam Rajavi, has managed to attract the support of many ordinary people. 

The newspaper added, “MEK has attracted a large number of rebellious youths by spreading its deceptive thoughts and promises and has absorbed them in its structure. They had a 3-day global online meeting in July 2021, where 1,000 political figures and parliamentarians were invited to take a strong stance against Iran. A strange range from the tough Republican Mike Pompeo to Democratic Sen. Menendez. They supported the MEK and attacked the regime as much as they could.” (state paper Mostaghbal August 23).

The MEK has been the leader behind all the recent dangerous riots in Khuzestan, Tehran, Lorestan, and Tabriz, according to intelligence officials. They believe the MEK is trying to turn any protest into a nationwide uprising intended to overthrow the regime. 

Sociologically, when an organization can transform any social or economic unrest into demonstrations against the ruling government, it has become a viable and popular alternative to that regime.

Khamenei’s strategy
According to a sociologist, there are hostility and interventionist policies as long as there is repression. On the first day of the Iranian New Year, Khamenei made it clear that he insists on having a young Hezbollah government (extremely oppressive) modeled by Qassem Soleimani. Khamenei managed to install Ebrahim Raisi, known as Tehran Executioner, as the new president. To prevent or postpone any upcoming widespread demonstrations or protests, Khamenei issued a fatwa about nine months ago, banning the import of any reputable vaccines from France, Britain, and the U.S. Khamenei uses the coronavirus to keep people occupied with their deaths and infections.

Rouhani, Iran’s former president, had said that lifting the sanctions could be done overnight. However, Khamenei seems to be afraid that if he agrees with the new 2021 JCPOA, the 2017 widespread protests and uprisings will sweep across the country, this time with more intensity and rage.

The 2015 nuclear deal, with a host of incentives, did not result in the betterment of the people’s lives or economic improvements within Iran. On the contrary, a wave of angry nationwide protests in 2017 and 2019 surprised the regime and forced them to use brutal oppression tactics.

The Iranian people and its resistance will not let this regime escape from accountability, which draws a very bleak future.

Hamid Enayat

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