Obama can make a deal
It is said that by the end of March, the United States and Iran will sign a framework agreement on the Iranian nuclear program. What are its main parameters?
Indeed, the parties have already moved from general conversations between the heads of diplomatic agencies to discuss the technical details of the agreement with the involvement of relevant experts (for example, even the US Energy Minister Ernest Moniz was present at the penultimate round of talks). It is impossible to talk about the specific content of the future agreement with 100% certainty, however, according to what the critics discuss and what the Israeli side resents, several conclusions can be drawn.
First of all, the agreement is likely to retain Iran’s limited right to enrich uranium (up to a certain percentage of enrichment). Accordingly, the number of operating centrifuges in the country will be reduced. It is also highly likely that the Iranians will be allowed to build a heavy water reactor in Arak, subject to serious international control over it.
Something a bit much Americans give the Iranians.
Indeed, Iran does not take any serious steps in response. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in Tehran they simply do not consider it necessary to give up at the moment. Let us remember the 2003-2004 year, when it became known that Iran had enrichment technology and centrifuges. The then Iranian position was categorically different from the current one - Tehran went to a practically complete freezing of the uranium enrichment program, allowed the IAEA inspectors to seal a number of their enterprises. And all because the Iranians were really afraid of the start of the military operation, they believed that after Iraq the American troops would enter Iran. Now there is no such fear - the Iranians are sure that there will be no military operation. The Iranians make partial compromises only to at least partially lift them from international sanctions and allow the Iranian economy to develop.
But will the framework agreement include the lifting of a significant number of US sanctions? The decision of the Congress is needed for the same, and on the Capitol the attitude to the American-Iranian negotiations is more than skeptical.
There will be a relaxation of the sanctions regime, which in the final agreement (it is expected to be signed in the summer - “Expert Online”) will receive permanent status. But we are talking about the restrictions that the president can lift - in particular, concerning the banking sector, financial transfers and, most importantly, the ban under the threat of separation from the American market to work in Iran for companies from third countries. It is this ban, and not the US sanctions (under which Iran has been living for almost three decades and didn’t suffer much, since even before the revolution, the economies of Iran and the US were not particularly connected) is the most problematic and painful for the Iranian economy. And if now the United States, for example, does not lift the American sanctions, but at the same time it will give the EU the opportunity to withdraw the European ones, this will be enough for the Iranians. When Europeans are allowed to cooperate with Iran in the oil, gas and financial spheres, return Iran to the SWIFT banking system and insure Iranian tankers, Tehran will be able to restore its oil exports to world markets. And all this is in the competence of the American president.
How likely is it that Congress will still take a more rational and sober position regarding the US-Iran negotiations?
Well, I would not call the Congress’s position drunk - the Republican majority proceeds from its views, which do not imply any normalization of relations with Iran. Republicans believe that this normalization is not in the US national interest. However, the US President and Secretary of State are ready to go to the end - John Kerry at a congressional hearing said that the Republicans can not criticize what they do not know. And the position of the executive, judging by the polls, is supported by the majority of the US population. Therefore, Republicans can only stop Obama and Kerry through extremely radical measures such as impeachment, but it is not serious to talk about such a prospect.
So Netanyahu’s visit didn’t hurt Obama much?
The visit only highlighted the difference in positions between the heads of the two countries. The negotiations themselves will not suffer from it - rather, on the contrary, for Obama and Kerry to reach agreements with the Iranians has become a matter of principle. If we talk about external circumstances, then the deal may rather be hindered by death or a severe form of rakhbar disease. It is not clear whether the Iranian side will sign a serious agreement in this situation. At the very least, the deterioration of Khamenei’s health will limit the freedom of action of the negotiators.
But after all, the disease of rakhbar just unties their hands. It is no secret that President Rouhani and his entourage from among the businessmen are ready to conclude a comprehensive agreement with the Americans, while the leader is, on the contrary, a supporter of a more cautious approach. Now that he is in a hospital bed and is not in control, isn’t it time to sign the document?
First, it is still unclear how true the information about the health of Khamenei. Secondly, Rouhani does not have a majority either in the Mejlis or in other institutions of power in the country. Therefore, he cannot make a one-man decision. Here we can recall the period when the document on the end of the Iran-Iraq war was discussed. The then spiritual leader of Iran, Ruhollah Khomeini, was already seriously ill, and the commander in chief of Iranian troops was Hashemi Rafsanjani, who has real power and far greater resources than the current president. But even in such a situation, he had to beg Khomeini to sign the document. For without the approval of the rakhbar, such issues in Iran are simply not resolved.
Changes should not wait
How true are the rumors about not only the bad, but the extremely grave condition of Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? And how much will his possible death change the internal political situation in Iran?
Information about Khamenei’s near-death state of health appeared many times during his entire term. If xNUMX prostate tumors are now being talked about, the cause of the disease was previously called blood cancer. There is a lot of speculations, but since this question is a state secret, then no one can say anything for sure.
As for the probable death of Khamenei, then, of course, God forbid his health, but in the event of his departure, no drastic fundamental changes or institutional crisis should be expected. Iran is very different from many authoritarian states, where power depends on one person. Yes, Khamenei is the supreme leader of the country and he has the last word, however, the Islamic Republic has a very developed system of checks and balances. There is a parliament with active politicians, the Council of Guardians, the Assembly of Experts (which elects a new rakhbar), the Council on the determination of expediency (which resolves constitutional contradictions), and finally the president. In addition to institutions, there are also many influential and respected leaders in the country who will not allow the situation to get out of control.
However, in the medium and long term, there will be changes, of course. A new rakhbar will gradually form a new composition of institutions from its people. And then a lot will depend on who exactly takes the place of Khamenei. It is difficult to make clear predictions on this issue - there are a large number of applicants for the role of the rakhbar, and among both well-known leaders of the country and not very well-known politically, but influential religious figures. In fact, the supreme leader can be any member of the clergy.
Well, there are some favorites?
Most often they say about Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. But I am not sure that his candidacy will be approved by the current composition of the Assembly of Experts. Even 5-6 years ago, he had more tangible chances, since he headed the Assembly itself, but now there are not many supporters left in the Assembly. In addition, Hashemi Rafsanjani is already too old a man - let me remind him that 81 is a year. By the way, it was through the age limit that he was not allowed before the last presidential elections.
And how high is the probability that a radical will come to power, such as Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, the spiritual mentor of former President Ahmadinejad?
The chances of this are also minimal. Yazdi, like Hashemi Rafsanjani, has few supporters in the Assembly.
In this regard, it is most likely that a compromise figure will come to power, which will uphold the principle of the Islamic state and the current constitutional order, but at the same time it will balance well between the main interest groups. Among such figures can be called the current. Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, heads of the Assembly of Experts (analysts generally note the unique ability of the Iranian 66-year-old Ayatollah to maneuver between influence groups - Expert Online). He is a rather restrained figure with not very pronounced, but still modernist views on state policy.