by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 12, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1442)
After four disastrous years of Donald Trump, anyone, even someone as inarticulate as Joe Biden, is seen as a welcome change. There is no shortage of commentary and analysis of what a Biden presidency would look like. Given its huge military footprint, US policies also affect non-Americans in many profound ways, mostly negative, in all parts of the world.
Muslims are especially impacted by such policies since the US has for decades launched vicious wars against Muslim countries. It has also kept many tyrants and dictators in power.
So, what can be expected from a Biden presidency? As a consummate insider—he has spent nearly 50 years in politics—Biden is completely wedded to Zionist Israel’s interests. He is on record as saying, to thunderous applause: “As many of you heard me say before, were there no Israel, America would have to invent one…”
It would be unrealistic to expect any fairness from him on the Palestinian question despite his predecessor going totally overboard. Will Biden reverse the Jerusalem embassy decision? Forget it. Will Biden rein in the Zionist settlers backed by heavily-armed troops barging into Palestinian homes in the middle of the night or stealing Palestinian lands in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, killing many in the process? Perish the thought. So, on one of the most crucial issues affecting the Muslim world, Biden will be no different than Trump.
The other issue is the Iran nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Trump walked away from in May 2018. He went further: he imposed a raft of sanctions on Iran that have badly affected its economy and inflicted much pain and suffering on the Iranian people. Even in Trump’s dying days, his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new sanctions on Iran’s institutions and individuals.
Biden has given some indication of his approach to the Iran nuclear deal through his appointments. He has appointed many individuals that had served during the Barack Obama presidency. These include, in addition to John Kerry (appointed as environment czar despite his close ties to the chemical giant Dupont), Jake Sullivan as National Security Advisor, Anthony Blinken as Secretary of State and veteran diplomat Nicholas Burns as CIA director.
And then there is Wendy Sherman, nominated to the number two position in the State department. She was part of the US negotiating team on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Her appointment has caused some angst in Israel because the Zionist regime is opposed to the deal—any deal—with Iran. But they can keep their power dry. Judging by statements from Biden appointees, getting back to the nuclear deal is “some ways away”.
Sullivan, Blinken and Burns were involved in back channel negotiations with Iran through Oman before the issue came into the public domain. Based on this background knowledge, can we surmise that some back channel contacts with Iran are going on, now that Biden is president? It is possible, though not certain.
While back-channel communications are standard fare in diplomacy, US-Iran contacts are a different matter. Let us consider the statements issued by Biden appointees about the JCPOA. Appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 19, in answer to a question about the US rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, Blinken said: “We are a long way from there.” Further, that Biden would need to see what Iran actually did to resume complying with the pact.
“We would then have to evaluate whether they were actually making good if they say they are coming back into compliance with their obligations, and then we would take it from there,” adding Biden’s ultimate aim would be a deal that also limited Iran’s missile program and support for regional proxies. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. Iran has not violated the deal; it was the US that walked away from it. Iran waited for 2.5 years before scaling back its commitment about uranium enrichment that it is legally entitled to under article 36 of the JCPOA, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted.
Iran has also categorically rejected any negotiations over its missile program that is essential for its defence. Given that it has not attacked any country in more than 200 years—a far cry from US conduct that former president Jimmy Carter described as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world”—the US is in no position to ask Iran or any other country to not develop defence systems. Similarly, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif once again rejected US calls about its policy in the region. In a column in Foreign Affairs magazine on January 22, Dr. Zarif wrote that Tehran would not allow the US or any other country to dictate its regional policy. He warned the US that the window of opportunity for US compliance with the JCPOA was short. If Washington did not grab this opportunity, it could be lost.
The 2015 JCPOA relates to only Iran’s nuclear matters. In return for accepting stringent limits on enrichment as well as intrusive inspections, Tehran would get sanctions relief. Despite signing the agreement, the US walked away from the multilateral deal in May 2018. Such international agreements are not signed with individual regimes, administrations or governments. These are between states.
The US violated its commitment by not only walking away from it but by imposing a raft of sanctions. It matters not whether Donald Trump abrogated the deal; he did it as president of the United States, not some street urchin!
The US—whatever administration is in power—must now comply with the deal and not only lift all the sanctions against Iran but compensate it for the losses it has suffered. Tehran has repeatedly announced that it would return to full compliance if the illegal sanctions are lifted.
For Iran, the crucial question is not whether the US rejoins the deal; it must comply with its terms; that means lifting all sanctions. The UN Security Council resolution 2231 (July 20, 2015) endorsed the JCPOA making it an international agreement, paving way for the abrogation of all nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. The US cannot unilaterally impose sanctions. This is gangsterism. Three of US’ European allies—Britain, France and Germany—are still part of the deal but they have failed to live up to their obligations, again in clear violation of the deal.
Some US officials are aware of Washington’s weak position. One of them is Wendy Sherman, Biden’s pick for deputy secretary of state. In an interview with a Boston news show in December 2020, she candidly admitted: “We’re going to work hard at this, because we have lost credibility, we are seen as weaker.”
If Biden wants to return the US to some form of normalcy, then its option is clear: lift the illegal sanctions against Iran immediately. It is the US that needs to restore its credibility. The next few weeks will tell whether the US is capable of acting as a normal state or continue as a rogue state!