Europe is rapidly changing the focus of its attention in the Iranian nuclear dossier, relying primarily on the political aspects of the problem. That is especially true against the backdrop of the upcoming presidential elections in Iran, scheduled for May 18, 2021. Talking to Lebanese General Michel Nahas, an expert specialized in middle eastern affairs and military Defense, speaks to Eat News about European mediation concerning the Iranian threat in the region and how they deal with this new fact?
A noticeable intensification of international action within the framework of the Iranian file occurred about two weeks ago when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif called on his European counterpart Josep Bordel to mediate between Tehran and Washington. Following this, France offered its services to normalize Iranian-American relations. At the same time, Russia and Beijing preferred to remain neutral.
The EU countries, despite criticism of Iran, still intend to help restore the nuclear deal. At the very least, the refusal to use the “snapback” mechanism included in the nuclear agreement, as well as the cessation of attempts to restore international sanctions in the UN Security Council, testify to positive shifts in European politics. It is noteworthy that Tehran likes this kind of mediation. However, as noted by the retired Lebanese army general Michel M. Nahas, European attempts to improve relations with the Ayatollah regime do not mean that Brussels is ready to abandon pressure on Iran completely.
It is worth noting that the European aspirations to resolve the nuclear problem were preceded by the Iranian position, which served as an incentive for Western countries to seek a compromise solution. The moderate wing of the Iranian political establishment has taken the initiative to establish diplomatic channels of communication with Brussels. However, conservatives continue to believe that they need to confront the “axis of evil” led by the United States and the European Union. So far, a conservative point of view prevails at the level of the national government of Tehran. At least, according to the statements of the press secretary of the Iranian cabinet of ministers Ali Rabie, Iran continues to refuse to fulfill its obligations under the nuclear agreement and stops the work of international inspectors. Now Iran is ready to start enriching uranium by 90 percent and creating an atomic bomb, General Michel Nahas said.
Nevertheless, even within the ranks of the Conservatives, there are political battles. For example, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi recently hinted that Tehran might abandon its nuclear program if international sanctions are lifted. According to the leaders of the conservative wing, such a position contradicts the direct instructions of the Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and represents a departure from the sovereign parts of Iran, General Michel Nahas said.
The current plan of the Iranian government is to find loopholes in international sanctions to achieve success in the upcoming presidential elections. Candidates for the presidency intend to offer their way out of the economic and political impasse to gain strong support from voters and win the elections. Meanwhile, the Conservatives proceed from the opinion that there is no need to look for any way to get around the sanctions because you need to live in the existing conditions in which the United States and its allies are an evil that cannot be cooperated with. These conservatives do not want a revival of the nuclear deal. For this, they are ready to block the upcoming presidential elections in Iran and provoke social unrest.
Perhaps only for this reason, European politicians began to build contacts with the moderate wing of Iranian politicians. At the same time, every political group in Iran is trying to attract the attention of the EU. In this regard, Mojtab Zul-Nuri was appointed to the post of head of the National Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Iranian parliament, who, despite his negative opinion about the Western countries, believes that an alliance with them would be more desirable for Tehran than an alliance between Iranian reformers and Brussels, General Michel Nahas said.
The Europeans began to define their position about the Iranian nuclear program as follows:
- They do not need radical solutions to the problem in the context of political instability in Iran.
- The victory of the moderate wing of the Iranian political establishment is a guarantee that Tehran will abandon plans to increase Islamic influence in the Middle East.
- The triumph of the reformers in Iran will serve as a guarantee of regional stability.
However, most likely, the European mediation initiative will not bring the desired results. First, this is because this initiative does not consider the so-called “deep state” in Iran, utterly subordinate to the Grand Ayatollah, who is strongly opposed to any negotiations with the West. Second, the Iranian political issue is not clear even to the Iranians themselves, not to mention the Europeans, since the political preferences of individual Iranian politicians are changing quite rapidly: today they “hate” the West, and tomorrow they are already negotiating peace with it. Under these conditions, at least three scenarios for the subsequent development of events, General Michel Nahas said.
Scenarios Behind the scene:
The first scenario is the success of the European initiative. This could happen if Tehran and Washington return to negotiations on their nuclear program. This development gives the Iranian government strong support in the presidential elections, working to improve the living conditions of Iranians.
The second scenario is the failure of the European initiative. Starting with the completion of the first scenario, conservative institutions in Iran must thwart the government’s attempts to circumvent the restrictions imposed by the conservatives. Given the imbalance of power between the government and sovereign institutions in Iran, this scenario seems more likely.