Thursday , 25 April 2019

Iran says not pinning hopes on Dems winning midterms

Al-Monitor – “In one sentence, we’re not pinning any hopes on [the US congressional midterm elections] or the 2020 [US presidential elections],” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with USA Todayone day before the US midterm elections. “What distinguishes Iran from some US clients in the region is that we have survived not only in spite of the US but against [the] US.” The comment probably wouldn’t mean that Iran’s top diplomat and his team of experts were not closely monitoring the results, which showed a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives was just in the making.

Whether a victory for US Democrats makes a real difference for the Islamic Republic is a divisive question. Under the country’s official line and rhetoric, the answer is ‘no’. But amid the high pressure US President Donald Trump is exerting on Iran, many are still crossing their fingers that a Democratic win could pull his brakes and moderate his anti-Iran policies.

“The best outcome is about creating balance in the US [foreign policy]. When they [administration and Congress] are from the same party, they will not find anything negotiable with us,” read a post on Twitter, only to be challenged by another that read, “Let’s be realistic. We can’t get anywhere as long as we expect change from beyond our borders.” The same was echoed but with a harsher tone by another Iranian who considered as “a bunch of idiots” those who would “see a Democratic win any different from a Republican one.”

Tasnim News Agency, an outlet reflecting the views of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, wrote about how the Democrats could advance their agenda in a House under their control by, for instance, “blocking [Trump’s] Mexico border wall project.” It, however, made no mention of where Iran would stand in US foreign policy should a victory by Democrats turn into a reality.

Earlier, Iran, the paper that represents President Hassan Rouhani’s administration, expressed doubt that a Democratic takeover could return Washington to the Iran nuclear deal but speculated about whether it could ease Trump’s Iran stance.

“The point is that Democrats and Republicans are not much at odds over Iran,” according to Tehran University professor Mohammad Marandi. “The US policy toward Iran is hostile in essence. It is the president who decides [on this and] not Congress.”

While the old-time, stereotypical “birds of the same feather” description continues to dominate the perception many Iranian officials and citizens hold about Democrats and Republicans, some still bring up the counterargument that the country’s landmark nuclear deal was struck during the tenure of a Democratic administration only to be scrapped by a Republican president.