A message (or two) from Iran

Yesterday’s New York Times published a column under the name of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif with the heading “A message from Iran.” It’s an interesting column with more than one message for the Times’s American audience.

Noah Rothman admirably places the role of the Times as the servitor of the Iranian regime in context in “Favored venue for anti-American tyrants publishes a message from Iran.” He also takes a stab at deciphering the message of the column as a whole.

Zarif professes Iran’s desire to play a constructive role in the region, from Lebanon to Syria to Iraq and Yemen. We get the picture.

It is surely this sort of novel candor that impelled the Times to turns column space over to the spokesman for such an active enemy of the United States and its allies.

I was interested in the opening of the column. Before quickly moving on, Zarif comments on the nuclear arrangement in process:

We made important progress in Switzerland earlier this month. With the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany, we agreed on parameters to remove any doubt about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and to lift international sanctions against Iran.

But to seal the anticipated nuclear deal, more political will is required. The Iranian people have shown their resolve by choosing to engage with dignity. It is time for the United States and its Western allies to make the choice between cooperation and confrontation, between negotiations and grandstanding, and between agreement and coercion.

With courageous leadership and the audacity to make the right decisions, we can and should put this manufactured crisis to rest and move on to much more important work.

By the time we reach the phrase “we agreed on parameters” in the second sentence of the column, we have reached the end of the line for true words. It was only last week when Zarif’s ultimate boss blasted Obama for “lying” about the White House fact sheet setting forth the parameters. See Tom Joscelyn’s Weekly Standard column reporting the relevant comments. Who ya gonna believe, John Kerry’s friend or the man they call the Supreme Leader?

What’s the message to be deciphered in the opening of Zarif’s column regarding the conclusion of a nuclear deal? The United States will have to make additional concessions to those it has already made, and Iran expects it to do so. Thus Zarif’s second sentence could be refashioned to assert “we will agree on parameters.” Obama himself has made that clear.

With Zarif’s reference to the “audacity” required to seal the deal, we have another piece of the message from Iran. The Iranian regime has Obama’s number and its leading foreign diplomat does not hesitate to display the regime’s contempt for the Times’s favorite Supreme Leader courtesy of the Times itself.


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