Atmospherics and Theatrics

Deputy Chief Editor
Atmospherics and Theatrics
Atmospherics and Theatrics

Last autumn it was inconceivable for some of the most optimistic international observers that senior officials from Iran and the United States would be in the same room, leave alone discuss critical issues haunting the two countries’ relations for almost 35 years. For reasons of compulsion, not convenience, that era has been consigned to history. The two sides have been meeting at a ‘different level’ since then and the outcome is hardly shrouded in ambiguity or diplomatic razzmatazz.

Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and his American counterpart John Kerry have met regularly over the past year to discuss a long list of valid grievances, concerns and apparently irresolvable issues that have defined Iran-US animosity after the two countries severed relations soon after the 1979 revolution in Iran. This is the atmospherics informed public opinion in the two countries had long been waiting for.

On the surface the two men have mostly tried to thrash out details related to the scale and scope of Iran’s nuclear program and find ways to “assure” the international community (read western community) that the program is peaceful. In essence their talks have focused also on peace and security in our immediate neighborhood and ways to rebuild a broken relationship due largely to the arrogance of Washingtonian powerhouses.                                                                                    

The US and its western allies have claimed for a better part of the past decade that Iran has a covert plan to develop a nuclear weapon under the guise of a civilian atomic agenda. Tehran denies the charge and has announced, at the highest level of political leadership, that the program is peaceful.

To date nothing of substance has been uncovered to seriously challenge Iran on that front. Washington and assorted western capitals took turns to demonize and penalize Iran for something it had not done. On false premise and the terrible theatrics of the neocons and their powerful lobbies the White House and its friends imposed unprecedented economic sanctions to belittle this nation of 80 million people.

As another tool of intimidation the US, which has for long developed the tendency of living on past glory, routinely threatened Tehran with military action and “regime change” if it did not reverse and dismantle its nuclear program.

For understandable reasons economic sanctions and military threats did not produce the results desired by US-led western alliance: putting a permanent end to the nuclear program. Yes, the penalties, embargos and outright hostility made Iran’s economic ties to the outside world extremely difficult if not impossible. Need and expediency taught Iran to survive and prevail, albeit at costs that more often than not were billed as prohibitive.

When Messrs Kerry, Zarif and Catherine Ashton from the EU meet in Muscat tomorrow, under the    auspices of the Omani leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the detestable and dangerous neocon  theatrics of yesteryears will once again be seemingly replaced by robust realities and unadulterated atmospherics.  

With a deadline looming for the so-called “comprehensive nuclear deal” and time running out for the despairing and diminished President Barak Obama, whose leadership and legacy are close to tatters, it is difficult to see how the three senior diplomats can afford not to seize the opportunity and prove that with genuine good will and good faith the impossible can be made possible.

Minus this strategic demand of wisdom, responsibility and foresight, the US will have pushed the already crisis-torn Middle East deeper into instability and uncertainty.