Algemeiner | Barney Breen-Portnoy: President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance toward the Tehran regime since he took office in January, but earlier this week he appeared to reach out to the citizens of the Islamic Republic with a warm Nowruz (Persian New Year) greeting.
“To the Iranian people and all those around the world celebrating Nowruz: On behalf of the American people, I wish you freedom, dignity, and wealth,” Trump said.
Behnam Ben Taleblu — senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank — told The Algemeiner on Thursday that Trump’s message “seemed to strike a different tone than that which American and Iranian audiences were used to under the Obama administration.”
In his statement, Trump said Nowruz was “an occasion to celebrate new beginnings, a sentiment that is particularly meaningful for so many Iranians who have come to our country in recent decades to make a new start in a free land. For many years, I have greatly enjoyed wonderful friendships with Iranian-Americans, one of the most successful immigrant groups in our country’s contemporary history. They come from diverse religious backgrounds — including Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Baha’i — but all share an affection for their ancestral heritage.”
Trump, Taleblu explained, “addressed three sets of audiences: the societies that celebrate Nowruz globally, the Iranian-American community, and the Iranian people. In so doing he omitted mentioning Iran’s legal name, ‘the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ leading one to infer that his message was not aimed at Iran’s revolutionary leadership.”
“It would be hard,” Taleblu continued, “to discern a specific policy direction that the White House would choose to pursue towards Tehran based solely off of the statement. No mention was made of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal or of Iran’s nefarious regional activities. His references however to Iran’s religious diversity (and in particular religious minorities) as well as his wishes for the Iranian people to have a better future appear entirely consistent with the bipartisan ethos of US Iran policy since the 1979 revolution.”
Also in his Nowruz greeting, Trump cited the words of sixth century BC Persian ruler Cyrus the Great, who said, “Freedom, dignity, and wealth together constitute the greatest happiness of humanity. If you bequeath all three to your people, their love for you will never die.”
“Trump’s decision to quote Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire who in the Hebrew Bible is given the moniker the Lord’s ‘anointed’ was a wise choice,” Taleblu said. “Cyrus is a revered figure among Iranians who cherish their heritage and to those who compare their country’s past greatness to its present status.”
Last year, in his final Nowruz greeting, former President Barack Obama hailed the July 2015 nuclear agreement reached by the Tehran regime and six world powers and called for greater engagement between the US and Iran.