Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made two relatively prophetic comments last week. He stated unequivocally that all sanctions on his country would have to be released immediately upon signing any treaty referencing Iran’s nuclear capability, and on an indirectly related note, he asserted to the Islamic world that, “Muslims should be fighting Israel, not each other.”
The first statement is prophetic, in that it draws a “red line” in the sand on nuclear talks and any subsequent agreement. At the extreme end of optimism, there is little room for negotiations on this one particular aspect of the agreement. Most see no scenario in which Khamenei would back down from his demand that sanctions be immediately lifted.
Iran’s leader, unlike President Obama, doesn’t have to deal with a Congress, and he isn’t compelled to act upon the wishes of the populace. Additionally, he and the other leaders of Iran are riding a wave of popularity among Iranians. If he says “no deal” unless all sanctions are lifted immediately, that’s pretty much the final word on the subject.
On the other side of the ocean, President Obama has asserted, just as unequivocally, that sanctions will be lifted sequentially over a long period of time. Though he has shown a willingness to act unilaterally, Obama will in this instance almost certainly have to gain the trust of Congress and the American people in order to finalize any agreement. Barring an unforeseen miracle, such is unlikely. The question is, therefore, “what happens if there is no deal.”
Iran has thus far failed to obtain a nuclear weapon, not because of a threat of war, but because of sanctions imposed by America and backed by America’s allies. Most of America’s allies today have lifted or signaled an intent to lift sanctions soon in light of Obama’s obvious lack of enthusiasm for continuation of this policy.
Khamenei and other Iranian leaders are riding a wave of popularity and viewed as victorious over “The Great Satan.” More importantly, the Iranian people, who prior to this point may have held him and other leaders of Iran responsible in some way for the hardship they have endured due to sanctions, nowsee a light at the end of the tunnel. Because of what Khamenei announced, they also are breathing a sigh of relief and completely expectant of a whole new world opening up in Iran — tomorrow.
If Congress and the American people refuse to acquiesce to an agreement no matter how bad for the world, and decide to continue pushing sanctions, the Iranian people will surely rise up in indignation and disappointment, and support their leaders in whatever they choose to do, which will most certainly be to drive forward and achieve their goal of becoming nuclear armed.
Where Khamenei has been forced to deal on some level, however slight, with a disgruntled Iranian populace, he will in this case be seen as righteous in his pursuit and backed by the Iranian populace.
Khamenei’s second comment referencing Israel should be taken very seriously by all of us. His oft-stated objective of destroying Israel has never wavered, and, as a matter of fact, has never been less than definitively and publicly stated as he recently declared.
America has been put in a position, as a result of this insidious drive to reach an agreement with Iran, of having nothingbut bad choices. Reinstating sanctions will most assuredly generate an uprising among the Iranian people and more cries of “death to America” will ring much louder than before; a point that will surely enhance the recruitment and fundraising ability of Islamic terror groups the world over.
Giving in to Iranian demands, on the other hand, and lifting sanctions immediately, will serve to add to the stature of Khamenei in the Islamic terrorism community and embolden those who wish to destroy us. And it will do nothing to slow Iran’s drive to become nuclear armed.
The only logical choices we will have is to allow them to arm, which will surely drive other nations in the region to arm themselves out of a sense of self-preservation — or launch military strikes to destroy Iran’s capability. If we don’t, Israel certainly will.
At times like this in the past, America has enjoyed the type of relationship with Israel that allowed us to influence them diplomatically, but few people can imagine Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu taking the time to discuss this with Obama. Israel will no doubt put the safety and security of its people ahead of the wishes of the Obama administration, as well they should.
It’s difficult to imagine a positive — or even a neutral scenario — arising from the position in which we have been placed by this administration. This is definitely a no-win situation.
Contributing Writer Godfrey Garner is a veteran special operations counterintelligence officer who retired from US Special Forces in 2006. He served two military tours and six civilian government related tours in Afghanistan. His work there most recently was as a counter-corruption analyst. Garner previously wrote about jihadi groups’ unification in his Homeland Security Today report, The Potential that Jihadi Groups will Unify … and With it, More Savagery. Garner also is author of, Danny Kane and the Hunt for Mullah Omar, and, The Balance of Exodus.