Saturday, September 5, 2015

Iran owns the Democrats. Obama caved on every demand. Still Iran keep demanding new concessions

Khamenei the Democrat

The Ayatollah issues a new demand on the nuclear deal.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif (1st L) delivers a speech at Iran's Majlis (parliament) in Tehran on July 21.ENLARGE
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif (1st L) delivers a speech at Iran's Majlis (parliament) in Tehran on July 21. PHOTO: AHMAD HALABISAZ/ZUMA PRESS
President Obama got the votes he needs this week to survive Congressional rejection of his Iran deal, and now the Administration is looking to bring a few more Senators on board so Democrats can filibuster a final vote on the deal. If the absence of U.S. democratic accountability disturbs you, consider its expression in Iran.
We aren’t entirely jesting. On Thursday Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced that Iran’s parliament, known as the Majlis, would have final say on the nuclear deal. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has resisted submitting the agreement to parliament, for fear it might reject it or add stipulations.
The Ayatollah begs to differ. “Parliament should not be sidelined on the nuclear deal issue,” he said on state TV. “I don’t have any advice to the parliament about how to examine it, approval or disapproval.” The chairman of the committee tasked with reviewing the agreement says it will present a report on the deal at the end of the month, with a vote expected by mid-October.
The Supreme Leader’s likely purpose is to keep his political options open while pressing for more Western concessions. Mr. Khamenei refused U.S. demands that Iran freeze its ballistic-missile program, or accept no-notice inspections of suspected nuclear sites, and each time he got his way.
Now he says economic sanctions must be permanently lifted and not merely suspended under the “snap-back” mechanism, or he’ll scuttle the entire deal. Tehran-watchers suspect Mr. Khamenei is tipping his hand against the agreement by inviting conservative members of the Majlis to take up his cause. While the parliament has notional power in Iran, its members are vetted by the regime and would never dare defy the Supreme Leader.
Mr. Khamenei’s reservations may not go down well with ordinary Iranians eager to see sanctions lifted, but ordinary Iranians lack a say on this or any other subject. Mr. Khamenei has vetoed previous nuclear deals with the West, including a 2009 agreement that would have required Iran to ship most of its enriched uranium to Russia. Each time the West came back with a sweeter deal.
Perhaps the smartest play for the Supreme Leader is to have the Majlis reject the agreement but allow Mr. Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to negotiate a political understanding with the U.S., in which Iran agrees to honor the accord’s outlines—in return for further political concessions on sanctions and inspections.
The Iranians could also make it known through a diplomatic back channel that implementation will depend on U.S. restraint in the region—by keeping U.S. aircraft carriers outside the Persian Gulf, for example, or agreeing to help Shiite militias fighting Islamic State in Syria or Iraq.
Such behavior would be consistent for a regime that knows it can take hostage a diplomatic agreement as easily as it can a foreign reporter. The ultimate result, as John Bolton and others have pointed out, is that a deal that is supposed to solve the Iranian nuclear issue will become another stage in Iran’s long negotiation to free itself from every remaining nuclear and economic constraint.
We noted earlier this week that, by putting up a blocking minority in Congress, the Democrats now own what will follow from the nuclear deal. That’s another way of saying that, on this issue at least, the Ayatollah now owns them. Whatever Iranian “democracy” decides next month on the deal, its Democratic supporters in the U.S. had better steel themselves for a rough ride.

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