The Iranian regime has always had a pretty good handle on American politics. In 1979-81, it realized that Jimmy Carter was a pushover and that Ronald Reagan meant business. Hence the release of the American hostages immediately after Reagan took office.
In 2003-04, the regime realized that George W. Bush meant business. Hence its apparent temporary backing off of its nuclear weapons development program. Soon thereafter, however, the regime saw Bush’s support eroding. Hence the resumption of the program.
How does the regime assess the American political scene now? It likes what it sees from President Obama and wants the Democrats retain the White House in 2016.
Another good call from the mullahs perspective.
Michael Rubin points to the Iranian daily Mardom Salari, which supports President Rouhani. It advocates closing a nuclear deal with Obama on the theory that, in essence, he’s a soft touch:
If at this sensitive time that may decide our future we are not able to agree on that paradigm and structure, tomorrow may be too late and we may not be able to raise the issue [of an agreement] again, because radicalism and extremism are not the traits that have only manifested themselves in the region in the form of some extremist groups… [but] they have also affected some powerful parties in major countries.
The “major country” is, of course, the USA; the “powerful party” is the GOP. The editorial warns that if Republicans prevail:
We will be faced with warmongers who see democracy only through the lenses of their weapons and who regard power and fighting as the only standard of justice and democracy. Therefore, in view of this situation, now that the world and people everywhere have replaced the discourse of talks for conflict, inside the country too we should adopt the policy of idealistic realism and in this way we should safeguard national interest and seek our benefits in the forthcoming talks.
The subtext of this editorial is, I think, fear that Iran’s hardest liners will oppose even the kind of favorable deal the regime will be able to negotiate with Obama-Kerry. The specter of GOP control is invoked to overcome this opposition.
But Rouhani’s organ wouldn’t be pushing this line if it didn’t understand that the regime can negotiate a favorable deal with the current U.S. president but not with a GOP successor. And, as I said, Iranian regimes seem unerring when it comes to such assessments.