'Idea that Saudis, who don't practice democracy, want democratic Iran is laughable'
Saudi Arabia and Israel don't want regime change in Iran, but would prefer to have an incompetent regime that mismanages the economy, and not allow it to truly live up to its full potential, author Trita Parsi told RT.
RT America's Ed Schultz discussed the latest developments on the Iranian deal with Trita Parsi, the author of 'Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy' and President of the National Iranian-American Council.
RT: Secretary Mike Pompeo laid down a 12-point list of demands for Iran. Meanwhile, most of the American people aren't really sure about getting out of the Iran nuclear deal. How do you think the Iranian people feel about what's unfolding?
Trita Parsi: I think what they're seeing right now is an effort by the Trump administration to escalate matters towards war. And one of the things that will have an effect on them, first of all, new sanctions are going to make their lives miserable. Even when Obama was putting all of these very crippling sanctions on the Iranians, it didn't cripple Iranian nuclear program. But it made life for ordinary Iranians very bad, including a medicine shortage. Now they're going to go back to that. But perhaps even more. Because at least, Obama was using this as a pressure method in order to be able to get a deal. I don't think we can say that John Bolton's idea is to use pressure in order to get a deal. This guy doesn't strike deals, this guy starts wars.
RT: Pompeo talked about economically squeezing the Iranian people. They want regime change. What does this mean? Does this mean this is going to be Iraq all over again?
TP: Here's a very fascinating thing. You have to remember that a lot of the reason why the Trump administration is doing this right now, beyond Trump's own animosity towards the deal because it has Obama's name on it, comes from the fact that the Saudis and the Israelis have been pushing Trump to do this. And if you're looking at this from Riyadh, you don't want regime change in Iran.
You actually prefer to have a regime that is pretty incompetent, that mismanages the economy and doesn't allow Iran to truly live up to its full potential. What you want is to start some form of a civil war inside of Iran that essentially eliminates to a large extent Iran's power and then shifts the balance of power back to the favor of Saudi Arabia and Israel. That's what I think they're looking for - the idea that the Saudis, who don't practice democracy themselves, want to see a democratic Iran, is quite laughable.
RT: Do you think this will strengthen the resolve of the Iranian people?
TP: We've seen in the past that when under attack, they are as capable, if not more capable, than almost any other nation to rally around the flag. And here's one reason as to why I think that might be even more true in this case. Even earlier on, when Obama imposed the sanctions, that was during a period in which Ahmadinejad, a highly unpopular presidential figure was running this show, under those circumstances they still rally around flag. This time around, the blame for collapsing the deal is squarely at the feet of Donald Trump. The Iranians have lived up to the agreement. The IAEA has confirmed that 10 times. I think that's going to make it much more difficult for the Trump administration to get some internal upheaval.
RT: The United Nations Security Council supported this. There are superpowers on board with this. And there have been some economic commitments to deal with Iran, as well, to help their economy. Where does that stand, now that the US is pulling out of this? Will these other countries live up to the commitment? And will the Iranians stay in the deal?
TP: The Iranians likely will stay in the deal, granted that the other countries continue to uphold their end of the bargain, but beyond that fill in where the US left. Because for the Iranians to agree to continue to restrict their program, they need to be given the economic benefits they were promised. But how can Europe force its companies to continue, or actually expand their investments in Iran, if those companies are going to be risking sanctions from the US government, if they do so? It needs a really strong political will on the European side to make sure that this happens.
RT: And yet Pompeo says the position of the US is that they want full diplomatic ties. Is that a possibility? Could that be a reality?
TP: There could be a reality if there actually was a genuine negotiation, there was a genuine effort to be able to bring about some sort of resolution to this long-standing conflict between the two countries. The JCPOA was an excellent start. The most imminent problem was resolved. And now they had conversations with each other and they could start to address many of these other issues. And the Iranians have a whole set of issues as well that they would like to address with the US. But Trump has actually taken a triumph of diplomacy and turned it into a crisis of choice.
RT: Let's talk about your book 'Triumph of diplomacy.' What's the main message here?
TP: The main message was that everyone thought it would be impossible to get the US and Iran to come to an agreement. People said that the Iranians will never come to the table; if they did, they would never agree to an agreement; if they did, they would never live up to that agreement. Look, what happened: they came to the table, they negotiated, they lived up to their agreement. And now it is actually Donald Trump that is pulling out of it.
RT: And you mentioned that maybe one of the reasons why Trump is getting out of this deal is because it has got Obama's name on it.
TP: The same deal, but with his name on it, he will do it in a split second… In his mind any deal done by him by definition is a better deal.
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