Time is not on Iran's side

Sanctions are something the regime cannot ignore


Time is not on Iran's side
by Meir Javedanfar

This weekend, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany meet with Iran in Istanbul for talks on Iran's nuclear program. Deutsche Welle (DW) asked Iran expert Meir Javedanfar to assess the chances of success. Javedanfar is an Iran expert at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. He is Iranian-born and has written and worked for a number of international publications and broadcasters.

DW: Talks between the so-called 5+1 and Iran in 2011 failed to yield any progress whatsoever. So are this weekend's negotiations just an empty exercise?

Meir Javedanfar: I think the talks are important for both sides. President Obama is facing an election in 2012 and needs to show that he gave diplomacy a chance. And on the Iranian side Ayatollah Khamenei is facing the toughest economic sanctions the Islamic Republic has ever been confronted with, which could lead to the collapse of the economy. The regime could not survive that.

Whether there'll be a breakthrough is unclear. But I think both sides have an interest in showing that they can compromise. Whether each side's compromise will be enough for the other remains to be seen. But we need to hope these talks do yield a limited breakthrough, especially for Iran's sake. If the talks break down, Iran could be the biggest loser. Time is not on Iran's side.

You talk about Khamenei and not Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, the figure most people in the West associate with Iran's nuclear program. Why is that?

Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has influence over Iran's nuclear program, but it's a mistake to focus on him because he's not a decision-maker. He acts as if he is, but he's not in reality. The nuclear program belongs to Ayatollah Khamenei and him only. So it's very important to ask: why is he handling the nuclear program in this way? Why doesn't he just reach a deal with the P5, get the sanctions removed and bring Iran back into the fold of the international community?

And what's your answer to that question? Why is Iran so intent on confronting the US, Israel and the West on this issue?

We have to look at why the Iranian people want a nuclear program, and why the regime wants it, because the two are separate. In my opinion, and from my observations, the Iranian people want nuclear energy because they want Iran to sell its gas and oil abroad to generate income. And many people want a nuclear bomb as a deterrent. When Iraqi forces under Saddam Hussein were using chemical weapons against Iranians (during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s), the world didn't care. Saddam Hussein wasn't even punished.

But that's not necessarily the reason why the regime is adopting its policies. For the regime it's of paramount importance to live in a state of no peace and no war with the West. They don't want war with the United States because they see what happened to Saddam Hussein. But peace with the United States would take away one of the last pieces of the revolution, one of the last bits of glue holding the regime together. The revolution has otherwise been a failure, and if America has good relations with the people of Iran, the regime will lose its legitimacy. Khamenei believes that having a nuclear weapon will mean avoiding being toppled like Hussein without having to having good relations with the US.

There have been some comparisons between Obama and former US President Jimmy Carter, who lost his bid for re-election in 1980 in part because of his perceived weakness toward Iran.

Obama's dual track of sanctions and diplomacy presents an existential danger to the Iranian regime. He's been a much more potent foe than George Bush, and I don't understand how people can compare Obama to Jimmy Carter. The prospect of economic collapse and good relations with the United States are both major threats to the regime. Obama's diplomatic reaching out to the Iranian people has done tremendous damage to the regime and its effort to brainwash people into thinking America is their enemy.

It sounds like the Iranian government hopes Obama will lose this year's vote.

If the regime could, it would bring President Bush back. He was their dream ticket. He gave the regime exactly what it was looking for, a justification for adopting an anti-American policy. In the next election, they're going to sincerely hope Romney is elected. Romney's tougher talk on Iran, and potentially the cancellation of talks, would tremendously help the regime. But the regime would be making a mistake, if they think having Romney would solve all their problems. A part of them, sure, but the sanctions are here to stay. The regime is in a serious bind. It's either rapprochement with the US or economic sanctions. Khamanei will have to decide which is the lesser danger.

A lot of Americans say economic sanctions are useless. Why do you think they could work?

The biggest reason why sanctions could work is that they are not in the interest of the Revolutionary Guard, the pillar of support for Khamanei. Without the Revolutionary Guard guarding the revolution there would be no revolution. And the biggest reason why they are loyal to Khamanei is business interests. He gives them the right to import certain products, monopolies on import and export for some sectors of the economy. Sanctions are going to hurt those business interests, and sooner or later, the Guard could put pressure on Khamanei to change. If he doesn't change the whole economy could collapse, and there'd be nothing the Guard could do to stop it. So I think sanctions are very, very powerful. They're something the regime cannot ignore.

This article first appeared in DW publication of Germany. Interview: Jefferson Chase. Editor: Rob Mudge.


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Arash Kamangir

waste of time

by Arash Kamangir on

You cannot negotiate anything with Mullahs as negotiations are about taking and giving and mullahs only know how to take.



by alimostofi on

Yes Amir. Another abuser of the word "Iran". What is it with Armenians Jews Bahai and other minorities insisting in abusing the name of Iran. No secular Knowrooz loving Iranian mixes Hezbolah Regime (HR) or IRI with Iran.

The importance is highlighted if you see that in the context of minorities HR is just another minority in Iran. They are all resisting Persianization. They will use any pretext to spread their propaganda. They need to emphasize the fact that Persianization is winning. But they don't dare.

FB: astrologer.alimostofi


To Author Meir Javedanfar,

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

Read this, enlighten yourself and write more thoughtfully in the future.




You can't do much to Iran

by hirre on

You can't do much to Iran with only sanctions, basically what revenues has been missed out are being gained by stronger relationship with China, India etc. You basically need to have China, russia and India on your agenda or threaten to sanction them, or else it will not work, and that is not going to happen...


On elevating iranians collective conscience

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on


thats where we need to focus on

G. Rahmanian

Long live sanctions!

by G. Rahmanian on

Yes, sanctions are one of the most powerful tools in bringing down the murderous Islamists ruling Iran.

Long live sanctions! Death to the authoritarian regime in Tehran!


Why not cut the middleman

by vildemose on

Why not cut the middleman (the US) and go straight to the source of power struggle, Israel?? What is wrong with this approach?? 

 A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.--Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Articles like this, can do more to misinform public views

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

The lack of professionalism can wash various peoples minds, both American and Iranian, from what is really going on.  Firstly its important to explain the differnce between, Iran vs IRI, like the difference between the Nazi's and Germany was necessary, it's a massive difference and no article can be considered professional without adhering to some elementary/basic standards like this. 


As for the topic of discussion, Time & the IRI, the IRI is being perceived on the receiving end of an openly western lead aggressive policy, not just dialogue, for a national domestic policy that has wide spread support among all groups of Iranians, including ones in exile.  Under these circumstances it doesn't seem an economic collapse is less of a struggle for the IRI than the Iraqi Invasion, which the IRI accurately names the USA Imposed War of the 80's.  IRI has shown it can survive a never ending economic decline for itspeople and worse conditions than a collapsed economy.  This is in no small part because of the help it covertly receives from the allies of the USA, the UK/France and yes Israel too.  The article does little to explain to the reader how the powerful interests that govern the USA love extremism for Iran and the rest of the region or even why?  What the IRI can not survive is the mass human rights crimes it has perpetrated on ITS OWN PRO-IRI members in addition to the IRI opposition and so long as the west does not address human rights and lend support to the widespread secular opposition groups the Regime will be temporarily secure. 

The West Loves extremism for Iran and will use all its power to keeping extremists for Iran.  However the process for regime collapse has already been started by Iranians who were part of the regime, but crushed by it and then others who opposed it and gave their lives during peaceful demonstrtions that showed the world the nature of the IRI and showed the people of Iran that the west wishes to support extremist.  In Libya, In Syria, In Egypt, In Iraq, In Afghanistan.  The death of the IRI can be delayed by for years with western support, but not too many, so they will be forced to act in their own self interest soon.  This policy of negotiating with the regime to keep it in power and hoping to contain it says more about the USA than anything else, this should not be misportrayed as a USA wishing to bring down the IRI its own creation or its own covert support of extremism policy for the entire Region, pretending its how people over their are.  

The eyes of all the people of Iran are now Open, they know what extremism is and don't want it, they see how the west supporting extremists everywhere get a foot hold and then dominate the countries, they see how the muslim brotherhood is now being presented to egyptians as moderates ( a total lie ) and lastly Irans leaders within Iran know exactly who are not the western backed extremists and they want them of course with no thanks at all to this misleading article.  I would add that as the USA tries desperately to hold some kind of dialogue with the IRI, one that will never occur, in opes of being able to keep the IRI in power.... the curse of betraying the late Moahammed Reza Pahlavi is truly upon the USA & on the extremists in Iran, for pursuing a flawed policy because it was with a group it could not contain or hold dialogue with. 

These are the reasons Carters National Security Advisor lamented in the late 1990's, Carter lost Iran for good and that could be a catatrophe for the National Security of the USA and her allies in combination with a Rise in the power of Russia/China/Europe.  Ooops, looks like thats happening too.    


Unlike other right winger ...

by Bavafa on

pro-Israelis, pro-AIPAC with knowledge of Farsi language, Mr. Meir Javedanfar an Iranian-Israeli has far more sense and depth of knowledge and expresses them wisely.  His knowledge of the power house and decision makers, IRI dependency of its hostility towards the West and other points he has made here exemplifies his knowledge of his birth place.


Though must say, the verdict on sanction and its effect on the Revolutionary guard is still unknown, its effect on the ordinary people is much more visible and more devastating.  Now, whether these ill affect will cause people to rise up and in favor of those who are imposing these sanctions or that they will circle their wagon remains to be seen.


However, arguably these sanctions could have far more effective result and support from the Iranian people had they been imposed in favor of the Iranian people and for their protection of their basic human rights as a condition then solely in favor of a foreign nation, namely Israel, just to keep its monopoly of nuclear bombs.



'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 



Airtight sanctions

by Fred on

The lobbies and supporters of  the Islamist Rapist Republic (IRR) claim the regime was ready to play ball when out of the blue got hit with the sanctions.

No matter all the made up history these people come up with, the only way forward is airtight sanctions, the kind which would cripple the nuke acquiring warmongering messianic Islamists getting them ready to be overthrown by the Iranian people with logistical help from the sane world.