Iran is a global terror problem, take it to the UN

Russia and the other 5+1 nations are paving the way for an even bigger crisis in the region with "the Iran problem" at its explosive core.

By Amir Taheri (Geopolitix)

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Published: Sat 15 Jun 2019, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Jun 2019, 10:50 PM

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is setting up a meeting later this month in Moscow. It will bring together junior diplomats from Iran, Britain, China, France and Germany - the countries that had formed the notorious 5+1 group created by former US president Barack Obama. The idea is to give a veneer of legal respectability to the so-called 'nuke deal' he concocted with the Iranian clerics.
For all intents and purposes the 'deal' died when the Trump administration in Washington decided to ditch it. Lacking an enforceable legal status, the 'deal' always depended on the willingness of the participants to implement it. With Americans walking away from it, there is no way other nations can put it on a life-support machine.
That leaves the remaining members of the 5+1 with a clear choice: either announce the Obama 'deal' dead and seek a framework for new talks on how to solve the perennial 'Iran problem', or unite to neutralise the United States and help Iran carry on as usual.
Obviously, it is not an easy choice to make.
To side with the US in demanding fresh talks would mean inflicting a humiliating retreat on Iranian clerics at a time when Tehran is facing economic meltdown and social unrest. The regime cannot afford to appear conciliatory. To side with the clerics against the US is even more difficult as none of the remaining 5+1 group trusts the Islamic Republic. Moreover, none of them has the legal, economic, and political wherewithal to help Tehran win in a tussle against America.
The problem is that doing nothing is not an option either.
Doing nothing means letting the US increasingly tighten the screws on an already weakened Islamic Republic. The policy of proximity pressure now in use could lead Iran to a point in which the continuation of the current set up becomes problematic.
That could enable the most radical factions within the Khomeinist movement to claim that the regime's only effective defense is further aggression. Such a stance could, in turn, make regime change the only realistic option for all those who are convinced the present Khomeinist system is incapable of changing course in a positive manner. And, that could make the cliché "all options are on the table" more ominous than it has ever been in the case of Iran.
In other words, by trying to revive a status quo that has already lost its raison d'etre, Russia and the other 5+1 nations are paving the way for an even bigger crisis in the region with the 'Iran problem' at its explosive core. Playing pseudo-diplomacy with the 'Iran problem' is both dishonest and dangerous.
The problem is that diplomatic gesticulations may only encourage the clerics to hang on to their illusion of one day forcing the Trump administration to eat humble pie and declare contrite 'return' to the Obama 'deal'.
The present impasse may be breached in two ways.
The first is for actual or wannabe mediators to side with the US and tell the clerics that they cannot have their cake and eat it. Once the clerics have understood that putative 'mediators' could direct their efforts at finding ways of organising a retreat that avoids utter humiliation for the Khomeinist regime. That should not be difficult as all the remaining 5+1 nations, including Russia, share Washington's concerns about Tehran's 'exporting revolution' and developing long-range missiles.
The second way to breach the impasse is to admit that the Obama 'deal' is a dead horse that will not come back to life no matter how one kicks it. With that admission, the Iran dossier could be returned to the Security Council that has already passed seven resolutions trying to deal with it. The process didn't produce the desired results because the clerics rejected all those resolutions while Obama tried to please them by circumventing the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and invented the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as a scheme tailor-made for the Islamic Republic. A return to the UN would put the 'Iran problem' under the proper limelight as an international concern rather than a duel between Trump and the clerics. It would also open the path for finding legally binding solutions to a problem that everyone acknowledges is a source of instability, tension and even military conflict in the region.
If the way to end the current crisis is to persuade, or force, the Islamic Republic to begin acting as a normal nation-state, the first step in that direction is to refer it back to the forum designed to deal with problems that normal nation-states have with one another.
-Asharq Al Awsat

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