‘The reality is that the lion’s share of the benefits from the deal have already been conferred to Iran… So we have to be thinking seriously about what comes next.’
By: Barney Breen-Portnoy/The Algemeiner
Iran fears it could be the “big loser” from Donald Trump’s surprising victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election, an expert on the Islamic Republic told The Algemeiner on Thursday.
“I think the reactions we’ve seen from Iran — the urging of Trump to maintain the nuclear deal, the warning that he can’t roll it back — suggest that they’re worried about the fact that existing US policy, which is very favorable to Iran, could change pretty substantially over the course of the next several months,” said Ilan Berman of the Washington, DC-based conservative think tank the American Foreign Policy Council.
Looking ahead at what Trump’s Iran policy might be, Berman noted, “You need to figure out what’s going to change and what’s not going to change. What’s not going to change, unfortunately, is the nuclear deal itself, because even though Trump has talked a lot about renegotiating or rolling back the deal, the reality is that the lion’s share of the benefits from the deal have already been conferred to Iran. Also, the deal is multilateral, so even if the US walks away, it doesn’t mean that our partners in the P5+1 will do so as well.”
“So if the deal is going to be with us in some fashion for some time,” Berman continued, “we have to be thinking seriously about what comes next. And what comes next, hopefully, is a strategy that pushes back against a rising Iran regionally. This will require military resources, political will and, frankly, a more forward stance on responding to Iranian proxies like Hezbollah.”
Before Trump formulates an Iran policy, Berman said, he and his advisers — “personnel is policy,” as Berman pointed out — will need to determine what the US wants to accomplish regionally.
The Wild Card – Russia
“Is it containment?” Berman asked. “Is it deterrence? And there’s a wild card in this equation, which is Russia. The Iranians are partnering very heavily with the Russians in Syria and I think it’s clear already that Trump wants to deescalate tensions with Moscow. How that plays out, whether it creates a hands-off approach to Syria and whether that translates to how Trump will treat Iran, remains to be seen, but it’s certainly something that isn’t off the table.”
Pooya Dayanim — the president of the California-based Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC) — told The Algemeiner on Thursday, “Based on what has been published in the Iranian media, the regime is fearful that the new Trump administration is going to more forcefully implement the nuclear deal and not let them get away with the bare minimum interpretation. And they are also worried that some of the economic benefits that they were hoping they would gain from doing the deal will now not bear fruit — for example, the new Trump administration may not approve the sale of Boeing planes to Iran.”
Dayanim went on to say, “I understand the new president-elect is a businessman and a pragmatist and wants to make sure that the US gets outside of the nation-building business. However, it is important to make sure that the Iranian threat to US interests and allies in the Middle East is contained and that Iran ends its adventurism in its neighboring countries. And the US should go back to supporting the pro-democracy movement in Iran and highlight the human rights violations that happen every day in Iran and not remain silent on that issue.”
In a pre-election interview with The Algemeiner last week, senior Trump adviser David Friedman said a Trump administration would “reengage with the world powers in a way that seeks to reintroduce leverage on Iran. A nuclear Iran in nine years is unacceptable. Nine years may sound like a long time, but it passes in the blink of an eye.”