Commentary Magazine


Iran Wants Sanctions Relief, Not Compromise

When the State Department agreed to let the Taliban open an office in Doha, Qatar in order to facilitate negotiations, senior American diplomats were unaware that they had already lost. After all, while the State Department—and some in the Pentagon—believed that they could facilitate talks with the Taliban if they allowed the Taliban an office overseas, what the Taliban leadership wanted all along was an office from which they could better connect to the international financial system, both to collect donations and launder cash. Once they got what they wanted, they had no reason to negotiate in good faith, and American diplomats were left twiddling their thumbs.

To the State Department’s credit, they are consistent. When it comes to the most recent Iranian diplomatic offensive, Secretary of State John Kerry appears ready to offer everything the Islamic Republic wants before the second round of negotiations, which are meant to address the concerns of the international community with regard to Iran’s nuclear program and its violation of its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards’ agreement.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Amir Touraj and Will Fulton translated several excerpts from this weekend’s Friday prayers in Iran. Within the Islamic Republic, the Friday prayer sermon basically serves as a weekly State-of-the-union address, and as such reflects the will of the supreme leader. Here’s what the Friday prayer leaders had to say:

  • Qom Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Hashem Hosseini Bushehri: “We seek the removal of all of the enemy’s oppressive sanctions. However, a problem would not be created if the enemies did not reach an agreement, because our nation relies on God.”  
  • Mashhad Friday Prayer Leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda: “Per the commands of the Supreme Leader, the country’s officials must utilize all diplomatic capacities to reduce sanctions. Iranian policy makers have fortunately been successful in this field. The US Secretary of State claims that Iran was not willing to sign an agreement in the Geneva negotiations, but this means that Iran will not sell its dignity to the foreigner. Our duty is not to sell our right to America’s greed or surrender against them. Just as we took this revolution to victory by adhering to the conduct of [third Shi’a] Imam Hossein, persevered against the enemy’s advanced equipment during the Eight Years of Sacred Defense [Iran-Iraq War], and took them to the ground, we must now annihilate them today.”

There really is very little fear of what might occur should negotiations collapse, for no one takes seriously President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry’s notion that war is the alternative to successful diplomacy. Hence, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said, “American and Zionist regime military threats against Iran these days are a joke…. Do not take these threats too seriously.”