Does Trump’s rhetoric serve Iran’s purpose?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed
Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

By : Abdulrahman al-Rashed

A recent piece published by The Economist is entitled: “Donald Trump is helping Iran’s radicals.” It cites the Iranian Supreme Leader’s statement: “Thank you, Mr. Trump, for showing the true face of America,” adding that Mohammad Javad Zarif, “Iran’s foreign minister, has lost his smile. Iran has difficult days ahead.”

The article concludes that the extremist wing within the Iranian regime benefits from Trump’s extremist political rhetoric and gives this wing a chance to rise and strengthen its position at the expense of the moderate wing. These fears seem logical and reasonable but when applying them on the political reality within the Iranian regime, we realize they are not true.

We believed in this conclusion in the 1990’s when Hashemi Rafsanjani became president as he represented moderation but his presidential term passed by and further proved that the Iranian regime is in fact extremist on the ideological level and governs through a structure of centralized control regardless of the president elected by the people and accepted by the Supreme Leader.

This analysis became clearer when Mohammad Khatami won the presidential elections. Everyone realized later that he was a figurehead while the real power was in the hands of the Supreme Leader’s office and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Then Mahmoud Ahmedinejad became president and he had full powers as he had strong relations with the supreme guide’s and Revolutionary Guards’ institutions.

During three decades, nothing happened to prove that there’s real competition between radicals and moderates inside the ruling command. Major events rather confirmed that the real governing figures were the radical ones while the moderate ones were just frontmen. Hassan Rowhani, the current president, and Zarif, his foreign minister, also represent the moderate face and they succeeded at swaying the administration of former president Barack Obama and convincing it that lifting sanctions and encouraging Iran’s openness are in the interest of moderate figures, the region and the world.

The nature of the regime in Tehran is religious and it has a revolutionary ideology. It has a political agenda that has not changed much since it attacked the American embassy in Tehran and held diplomats hostage

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Wrong perspective

Once again, evidence suggests this perspective was wrong. The Iranian command became more aggressive than before and for the first time since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, it dared expand its military activity outside its borders. It participates in four wars outside Iran and funds them. All this happened thanks to the nuclear deal which opened the doors of relations, trade and activity to it and kept silent over Iran’s threats to the region’s countries.

Trump’s extremist rhetoric is the outcome of the disappointment in Washington due to Iran’s actions after signing the nuclear deal. Things will get worse unless there is a strict international position against Iran’s adventures and unless Iran is forced to end the chaos which it funds in the region and the world.

Those who know how the Iranian regime works cannot believe the excuses being made by Iran’s friends and which stipulate that being lenient with Iran can lead to positive things. The nature of the regime in Tehran is religious and it has a revolutionary ideology. It has a political agenda that has not changed much since it attacked the American embassy in Tehran and held diplomats hostage.

The same logic leads us to conclude that Iran will dominate through using power via its proxies and militias across the region and through encouraging and supporting the rebellious behavior of certain local parties in neighboring countries. Iran has not changed much since it announced it plans to export revolutions to the world. The only change that happened is that its financial and military situations improved a lot thanks to the nuclear deal it signed with the West.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.


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