What an amazing day. The White House website publishes its photo of the day, of the president’s historic conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, (above by Pete Souza), and the Washington Post poll overwhelmingly reflects American opinion in favor of the opening:
Should the U.S. seek to improve relations with Iran?
19946 people have taken this poll.
The Obama announcement of the call verged on triumphant:
I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution. Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons. President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons. I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations. So the test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.
Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran — one based on mutual interests and mutual respect. It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region — one that would help the Iranian people fulfill their extraordinary potential, but also help us to address other concerns that could bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East.
A path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult, and at this point, both sides have significant concerns that will have to be overcome. But I believe we’ve got a responsibility to pursue diplomacy, and that we have a unique opportunity to make progress with the new leadership in Tehran. I also communicated to President Rouhani my deep respect for the Iranian people.
Jasmin Ramsey says “It may be the most positive message put out by the US government on Iran since before its 1979 revolution.”
From the Hassan Rouhani twitter account many believe to be legitimate, Rouhani spoke of a “phone convo” and spoke of “regional matters.”
He retweeted this John Kerry tweet:
Robert Mackey says a series of even more ebullient tweets about the convo was removed later.
Ramsey at Lobelog: “[this] tweet via Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s account of his phone conversation with President Obama summarizes what many people are feeling: today may mark the beginning of a US-Iran detente — or even rapprochement. (Rouhani retweeted Costolo by the way).” Costolo:
I feel like i’m witnessing a tectonic shift in the geo-political landscape reading
@HassanRouhani tweets. Fascinating.
The Times editorial board tries to restrain its excitement:
the phone call was the most audacious sign of a new day, and Mr. Rouhani immediately told the world about it on Twitter. It’s hard not to be swept up in the euphoria, especially when an adversary begins to seem not only reasonable but personable.
The Times news report and NPR this morning say that hardliners in Tehran pelted Rouhani’s car with eggs to indicate disapproval of the opening. But it’s not just hardliners in Iran who want to stymie these talks. I’d point out that on MSNBC yesterday, Joy-Ann Reid, a true progressive, threw cold water on the opening, describing as extremist Rouhani’s demand that “Israel… give up its nuclear weapons.” Is this really the progressive American position, that de-nuclearizing the Middle East is a bad thing? Chomsky has called for what Rouhani calls for. Reid’s comment was likely scripted.
Netanyahu, whose twitter feed is silent right now, is also expected to dismiss the opening. Ramsey:
It has already been suggested that Netanyahu will compare Iran to North Korea at the UN — a continuation of his description of Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Israel boycotted Iran’s speech at the UNGA on Tuesday and has been alleging that Iran has been questing for a nuclear weapon for years, so it will be interesting to see if Netanyahu continues this line next week.
Meantime, J Street, whose annual conference begins today, makes it clear that it wants to be the Israel lobby for the new American center. It thoroughly approves the breakthrough:
J Street is encouraged by President Barack Obama’s telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – a possible first step on the road to solve the crisis caused by Iran’s nuclear program.
Such dialogue is exactly the type of move needed if the parties are to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis in a way that preserves regional security and avoids a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. J Street views with cautious optimism the President’s announcement that both presidents to have instructed their negotiating teams “to continue working expeditiously, in cooperation with the P-5 plus one, to pursue an agreement”, and commends President Obama’s commitment to “stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel” throughout the process.
A few weeks ago, 131 Members of Congress urged President Obama to test Rouhani’s campaign overtures about constructive engagement on the nuclear file. We agree with the President’s assertion today that “the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place” and “respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations.”