By Iran Review
By Hossein Kebriaeizadeh*
The latest presidential election in the United States has drawn attention from many governments around the world due to the existing conditions of the world order and its consequences. However, some countries, including Iran, which has the background of about four decades of political, economic and rhetorical tug of war with Washington on its track records, are considered more important in this regard, so that, the name of Iran was frequently repeated during election debates between the two US presidential candidates along such countries as Russia and Iraq.
The presidential election in the United States has finally ended after many ups and down and Donald Trump, which was known for his fiery, though populist, remarks, is on his way to the White House to run the United States of America as the president for the next four years.
However, despite many governments in the Middle East, the election of trump has not upset Tehran. It seems that the political and scientific reactions shown by the Iranian society to the election process in the United States has become more mature due to accurate observance of 10 rounds of US elections following the victory of the Islamic Revolution.
Political and scientific figures in Iran see the US presidential election on the basis of the turnover of elites at the apex of the power pyramid and also from the viewpoint of its impact on the United States’ large-scale policies and as such, when it comes to confrontation between structure and agent, they consider the structure to play a more prominent role than an agent like the president. Structures in the political system of the United States act in such a way that Washington’s national interests would be met at international level beyond partisan and factional games and in the most desirable manner. Even if the role played by the US president is going to be highlighted, it must be noted that the election of Trump has not been very undesirable for Iran, at least, in comparison to his Democrat rival, Hillary Clinton.
Although the positions taken by Trump during his presidential campaign do not present a full picture of decisions that he will be possible to make after being elected as president, monitoring those positions can provide nontransparent pictures of the way he thinks.
His positions on Iran can be divided under two major topics. The first topic is Iran’s nuclear case and subsequent nuclear agreement with Iran. Unlike Clinton, which believes that Iran’s nuclear deal is a secondary matter and not important with regard to domestic developments in the United States, Trump considers it unacceptable and has described it as the worst agreement signed by the United States throughout its history, which has made America the laughing stock of international community. From the outset of his campaigning, Trump emphasized that the nuclear deal with Iran was just a scrap of paper, which could be easily repealed, but later on, he noted that he would ratchet up sanctions against Iran in order to bring the country to the negotiating table once more for a better deal.
Renegotiating the nuclear deal can be also a desirable option for domestic critics of the deal in Iran, because they also believe that this deal is not acceptable in view of Iran’s national interests and agree with Trump on the point that renegotiation is necessary to rectify executive and legal mistakes of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In doing this, both sides would have an opportunity to restart their game of good and bad words. Trump is basically a businessman, who sees politics from the standpoint of business and for him, multidimensional political words mean nothing above their value in bargaining over the price. Therefore, a good agreement from his viewpoint, is an agreement with the highest benefit for him and the lowest benefit of the opposite side.
However, due to lack of enough political experience, Trump is not capable of understanding the difference that exists between political and diplomatic issues, on the one hand, and business matters, on the other, and does not know that there are cases in which both sides can emerge as winner. He is also not cognizant of the difference between an agreement accepted by a number of countries and bilateral agreements, though he is sure to come to realize that difference with the help of his advisors soon.
The second topic related to Iran in Trump’s campaigning positions, which happens to be quite encouraging for the Islamic Republic, is the way Trump looks at issues related to the Middle East.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, Trump does to have a positive opinion of the Arab world and political actors affiliated with the United States there. Addressing Saudi Arabia, which is now the second most important challenge facing Iran in the region after Israel, he has said that if Saudis want continued support of the United States, they have got to pay the price.
Apart from this issue, which indicates the possibility that Trump’s administration would not support Saudi Arabia’s adventurism in the region, he has lauded the role played by Iran and Russia in fighting against terrorism. This shows that Trump’s understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism is acceptable and liked by Iran and this issue may even provide the ground for cooperation among Iran, Russia and the United States in fighting against Daesh terrorists. As a good businessman, trump knows that the fight for obtaining a public commodity like peace and order is costly and it would be rational to assume that the cost must be divvied up among all involved parties.
Of special importance is Trump’s recalcitrantly tough position on fighting against Daesh, which has been posing threats in Iran’s surrounding environment. If serious, this position can boost Iran’s security and pave the way for increase in Iran’s regional clout as did the fall of Iraq’s former dictator, Saddam Hussein, under the former US President George W. Bush.
Another factor, which is encouraging for Iran following the election of Trump, is his position on Israel, which is the most important challenge facing the Islamic Republic in the region. He was the sole presidential candidate, who did not show any commitment to Israeli traditions during his trip to Israel. Tensions between Trump and Tel Aviv are so acute that the Israeli daily Haaretz has even described his election as the most important achievement for anti-Semitism since 1941.
Trump, who is willing to get the Christian-based US trade out of the clutches of Jewish cartels, has been taking a different and pessimistic approach to Israel and the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States.
Another important issue for Iran is Trump’s leaning toward Russia. The new US president believes in the need to reduce tensions with Russia. In view of similar stances taken by Iran and Russia on regional issues, this position by Trump will cause the conflict between the approaches and interests of Iran and the United States to be ignored or be subject to bargaining as a result of the United States’ decision to get closer to Russia.
The above facts are just a roundup of Trump’s election positions. However, it is clear to what extent the US president can affect the decision-making hierarchy in the United States and it is also evident how wide is the gap between what US presidents say in their election speeches and the realities that are later imposed on them. Since Trump is a member of the Republican Party, it is quite possible that anti-Iran Republican figures will gradually surround Trump and the influence of such hawkish figures as Bob Krueger, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton will deprive Tehran of the policy of lenience that was exercised toward it by the outgoing US President Barack Obama. Therefore, we must wait and see what happens.
* Hossein Kebriaeizadeh
Expert on Middle East Issues