Iran’s survival strategy: crouching tiger, hidden dragon

Commentary Materials 3 April 2019 12:14 (UTC +04:00)
Iran has not had much luck with the 45th president of the United States.
Iran’s survival strategy: crouching tiger, hidden dragon

Baku, Azerbaijan, April 3

By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:

Iran has not had much luck with the 45th president of the United States.

The date of November 3, 2020 – presidential election in the United States – Iranian authorities are waiting for this with nearly more impatience than the Americans themselves.

On this day, it will become clear what Iran will expect in the coming years. Will the re-elected President Donald Trump continue his crippling policy towards the Islamic Republic or a new US president will be more open for discussion and compromise?

Tehran has reason to hope for the better, if representatives of the Democratic Party, many of which support the nuclear agreement with Iran and call on the US to join it again, come to power in the White House.

Lately, several announced presidential candidates from the Democratic Party have already said that if they win the elections, the US will re-enter the agreement. Among them are Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and some others.

Democrats' statements range from revising terms of validity for the main nuclear restrictions as a condition for returning to JCPOA to joining it without preconditions, but the general direction is clear – Washington's return to the nuclear agreement.

It is not excluded that Iran would willingly agree to new negotiations and even concessions, if someone else was in Trump's place.

In the meantime, Iran is applying the most favorable survival strategy in adverse conditions. This means showing endurance, not forcing events, avoiding regional risks, maintaining internal stability, and getting to the US president election day without any upheaval and with the political and military assets available.

This tactic is clearly visible, in the first place, on two examples: Tehran's attitude to the implementation of EU's obligations under the nuclear agreement, and the reaction to the Israeli attacks in Syria.

Europe actually came out of the nuclear deal, and a financial mechanism created for trade with Iran is akin to a "sad joke", said the Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a speech on Iranian TV.

It is hard to dispute this claim. For too long, Europeans have been feeding Tehran with promises, each time delaying real measures to fulfill their obligations under the nuclear agreement. However, Tehran has been displaying amazing patience and is in no hurry to reject the formal European support.

Within quite a long time, Israel has made scores of air attacks on Iran-controlled military facilities in Syria. Despite that, Tehran has never retaliated in return.

In early February, after another Israeli air strike, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani warned Tel-Aviv that the continuation of attacks on Iranian facilities in Syria will no longer be tolerated adding that next time the Iranian response will be "aggressive and decisive."

The latest Israeli air strike on March 27 on the Sheikh Najjar industrial zone, where, according to Israeli media reports, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps launched the production of high-precision Fajr-5C missiles, and an arms depot near the Aleppo international airport, was also left unanswered.

Again, as in the above mentioned case, Tehran is adherent to avoid strong response.

There are other examples when Iran, in order to preserve some of its important assets, made concessions in something else. For instance, Tehran has agreed to sign the Convention on the Caspian Sea on terms which it has always rejected. A year ago, prior to the US exit from the nuclear agreement and imposition of sanctions, the Iranian position was adamant, and no one would claim it could change.

In this particular case, Iran's asset was the political support from Russia amid confrontation with the United States and importance of economic ties with the Caspian littoral states under the sanctions.

Six months following the US presidential election, Iran will hold its own in May 2021. Largely depending on the results of the American choice, Tehran will have to determine its future policy. It may be the further commitment to the nuclear agreement or moving on to plan B that Iran likely already has.

Until then, Iran is unlikely to rock the boat.