Alwaght – The US President Donald Trump ostensibly looks forward to negotiating with Iran. Over the past week, he three times called for a face-to-face meeting with the Iranian officials. The calls come while he has formed one of the most anti-Iranian administrations since the Islamic revolution of 1979 removed the US ally Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in Iran and installed the Islamic Republic. And while Trump is working closely with the Israeli and Saudi lobbies and is severely under their influence in his anti-Iranian campaign.
Aside from these all, Trump withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal and re-imposition of economic sanctions against Tehran cast more doubts on his suggestion for negotiation. Trump’s special personality is another issue that make Iranian officials more doubtful towards his offer for dialogue. He is mercantilist-minded, politically-naïve, pragmatist, stubborn, and ignorant of the advice of his advisors.
But the question is why he is so insistent on talking to Iranians? Can Iranians use his mercantilist spirit to wrest some compromises from him?
Politically-inexperienced and unfamiliar with Iran and its people, Trump thought that once he pulls his country out of the nuclear agreement, reached with world powers in 2015, and puts strains on Tehran in association with the allies, he can force the Iranians into negotiations and foist on them his conditions. But as time went by, he figured out his dreams are unlikely to come true and the situation is harder than what he thought.
The US leader finds Washington a losing side in a set of regional and international cases, immersed in isolation and troubles. Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Korean Peninsula cases are all scenes of the US failed policy. American officials fly from one country to another to forge a global coalition against Tehran, but their attempts are going nowhere.
China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain, all signatories to the landmark nuclear deal, insist that the accord should remain and put the blame on the Americans for their withdrawal. They look firmly resolved to protect international multilateralism and continue their cooperation to push against Washington unilateralism in various areas, including the trade war. China and India, both major Iranian oil importers, asserted that they will continue to buy oil from Tehran. Some other countries have asked the US for compensation in return for the economic damage the possible severing of ties with the Islamic Republic could cause. The US has not responded to their calls yet. Perhaps Trump has understood or was made aware by experienced politicians that Iran will not succumb to the economic pressure. He may have come up with the understanding that under this strategy could not fulfill his demands, rather the US may end up more isolated than before and undergo serious foreign policy damages.
This understanding looks to be pushing Trump to offer “unconditional” meeting with the Iranian officials “whenever and wherever they want” before the renewed economic sanctions, eased according to the nuclear deal, take effect. For him, the very Iranian accepting to talk is a big win that could work as a playing card at home and for the next election, and a big loss to Tehran.
If Iran agrees to dialogue, the American president could boast of doing a job none of his predecessors could accomplish: A huge victory. He will call it a huge victory because since his presidential campaign speeches, he called Iran nuclear deal reached under Obama a “terrible deal”, and promised to mend it or tear it up. Should Iran bow to his demands and accept the huge defeat, Trump can then maneuver about his big accomplishment and so score home goals, without even needing to practically negotiate and see the results. All he would needs will be buying time under various excuses. Every time Iran yields, the US can press more. A process like this can continue with Washington raising more demands and asking Iran for compliance until the latter is left fully assimilated.
For Iran, agreeing to sit with the Trump administration means that the policy of pressures and threats has worked with the nation. Even if there are no ensuing talks, the very agreement to talk means that Iran has accepted the nuclear deal is invalid, something putting on a shaky ground the resolution of other powers to save the accord and counter the US unilateralism that could leav Iran empty-handed diplomatically. Iran can benefit from that that other powers seek to save the multilateral deal and confront the US hegemony as part of a broader strategy to save global peace and security. Therefore, it seems unlikely that Tehran burn its opportunity by saying yes to Trump’s empty offer.
Despite Trump’s mercantilist personality, it is almost impossible for Tehran to strike a win-win deal with him. Actually, the decision-making institutions in the US, like the Senate and Congress, will not entrust such a long-time, challenging case to such a person.