Iran’s kumbaya video: let’s cut the deal and turn to ‘existential battle’ against extremists

Middle East
on 18 Comments

On Friday Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif put out a kumbaya-spirited video, saying that Iran welcomes the deal as an alternative to military solutions to disagreements, and it’s time for the world to fight the “existential battle” against extremism, “the hooded men who are ravaging the cradle of civilization.”

The menace we’re facing – and I say we, because no one is spared – is embodied by the hooded men who are ravaging the cradle of civilization. To deal with this new challenge new approaches are badly needed. Iran has long been at the forefront in the fight against extremism

John Kerry says there are important issues to resolve:

We’ve made genuine progress in last few days, but we’re not where we need to be on several difficult issues.

Zarif calls out the neoconservatives in the message, titled: “Iran’s Message: Our Counterparts Must Choose Between Agreement and Coercion”

Some stubbornly believe that military and economic coercion can ensure submission. They still insist on spending other people’s money or sacrificing other people’s children for their own delusional designs.

Other people’s children: that is targeted right at the neocons. Of course Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put out his own cartoon video, saying Iran is the same as ISIS. Yesterday Netanyahu said the deal gets worse by the day and that it is a “jackpot” for Iran, like the deal with North Korea:

This deal, as far as we can see, comes on almost daily concessions from the P5+1 to growing Iranian demands. Every day, more concessions are made and every day the deal becomes worse and worse. I could say that what we see in Vienna is not a breakthrough, but more like a breakdown, a breakdown of the principles that the P5+1 committed itself to uphold in the Lausanne negotiations.

This deal will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal.  It will give them a jackpot of hundreds of billions of dollars with which to continue to fund their aggression and terror – aggression in the region, terror throughout the world. It’s something that I think we should work against because when you have such a bad deal that resembles more and more the deal with North Korea, the conclusion is simple. It’s been said before by many leaders and I’ll say it again now: Better no deal than this very bad deal

On twitter, he says it’s worse than the North Korea deal:

This is a bad deal. In my opinion it’s worse than the deal that led to a nuclear arsenal in North Korea.

Laura Rozen of Al Monitor says that the negotiators continue to make progress:

Iran offl: Many issues resolved at expert/deputy level. Still are some issues which remain to be resolved at FM level.They are tough issues

Reza Marashi of the National Iranian American Council is also positive. Sunday:

By my count, Kerry & Zarif have met 4 times TODAY. All of their predecessors combined dating back to 1979 met a grand total of 0 times.

Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares says that the media are misrepresenting the debate. Nuclear experts overwhelmingly agree the deal is a good one;

There is an overwhelming consensus among non-proliferation, nuclear policy, and national security experts that a negotiated accord is the best, and likely the only, way to ensure that Iran never builds a nuclear weapon. But you would not know that if you relied on congressional hearings or most media coverage of the negotiations…

But the media are focused on the dissenters because of the aggressive neoconservative push:

The mistaken impression of where the experts stand also stems from the aggressive tactics of the opposition forces. Though light on nuclear policy experts, the groups working to kill a deal with Iran are exceptionally well funded, heavily staffed, and relentless in their bombardment of the media and the Congress with “fact sheets,” reports, letters, visits, and tweets. As several Senate staffers told me recently, “We feel under siege.” With a few exceptions, pro-deal experts are, to put it politely, more restrained in offering their opinion. Nor do liberals have the massive propaganda machine that conservatives enjoy.

Cirincione cites a series of letters in April by 50 international experts/leaders, and 16 experts/leaders, and a third letter from the Atlantic Council in favor of a deal, says the experts are agreed that an inspections regime can work:

[One former IAEA analyst writes,] “Even the skeptics should have confidence that if Iran changes course, IAEA verification will work in time for intervention to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

That is where most nuclear policy experts stand. They are cognizant of the shortcomings and aware of the advances. Scores of experts hold these views. In fact, there are too many to list in this article.

Here come the neocons. The Emergency Committee for Israel is worried that Chuck Schumer will support the deal.

It released the video above last week, and says, “Obama is caving to Iran.”

Senator Schumer says a deal with Iran must include anytime, anywhere inspections of Iranian nuclear facilities. But the Obama administration is caving on inspections. Call Senator Schumer and tell him to stand firm.

The same message from a neoconservative shell group, “Secure America Now”:

Keep calling @SenSchumer & tell him to oppose a bad #IranDeal where Iran gets nuclear weapons! Call now

The neoconservatives’ favorite senator is Arkansas’s Tom Cotton, who echoed the line on This Week on ABC:

Iran is an anti-American, terrorist-sponsoring outlaw regime that has killed thousands of Americans from Beirut to Iraq to Afghanistan… That video the Iranian foreign minister posted over the weekend with that smug, condescending tone, shows just how far down the path we’ve gone towards Iran’s position.

Iran was negotiating from a position of weakness… As that video shows, they think they’re in a position of strength and that they hold all the cards.

Here is Zarif’s kumbaya message of Friday in full:

I’m in Vienna to put a long overdue end to an unnecessary crisis. At this eleventh hour, despite some differences that remain, we have never been closer to a lasting outcome. But there is no guarantee.
Getting to yes requires the courage to compromise, the self-confidence to be flexible, the maturity to be reasonable, the wisdom to set aside illusions, and the audacity to break old habits.
Some stubbornly believe that military and economic coercion can ensure submission. They still insist on spending other people’s money or sacrificing other people’s children for their own delusional designs.
I see hope, because I see emergence of reason over illusion. I sense that my negotiating partners have recognized that coercion and pressure never lead to lasting solutions, but to more conflict and further hostility. They have seen that 8 years of aggression by Saddam Hussein and all his patrons did not bring the Iranian nation – that stood all alone — to its knees. And now, they realize that the most indiscriminate and unjust economic sanctions against my country have achieved absolutely none of their declared objectives; but instead have harmed innocents and antagonized a peaceful and forgiving nation.
They thus opted for the negotiating table. But they still need to make a critical and historic choice: Agreement or coercion. In politics—as in life—you can’t gain at the expense of others; such gains are always short-lived. Only balanced agreements can withstand the test of time.
We are ready to strike a balanced and good deal; and open new horizons to address important, common challenges.
Our common threat today is the growing menace of violent extremism and outright barbarism. Iran was first to rise to the challenge and propose to make confronting this threat a global priority, when it launched WAVE – World Against Violence and Extremism. The menace we’re facing – and I say we, because no one is spared – is embodied by the hooded men who are ravaging the cradle of civilization. To deal with this new challenge new approaches are badly needed. Iran has long been at the forefront in the fight against extremism. I hope my counterparts will also turn their focus, and devote their resources, to this existential battle.
A thousand years ago, the Iranian poet Ferdowsi said:
“Be relentless in striving for the cause of Good
Bring the spring, you must; Banish the winter, you should.”
My name is Javad Zarif, and this has always been Iran’s message.

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The IAEA has also put out a youtube on the Iran deal, yesterday, largely supportive of the arrangements. It is working with Iran on the protocols but more work is needed.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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18 Responses

  1. Kay24
    July 6, 2015, 4:30 pm

    Thanks for the interesting article Phil. I am hoping that there will be an agreement, and that Iran will have the sanctions lifted and able to join the global community. It has been such an uphill battle, and the WH has been fighting so many obstacles and attempts to sabotage this hurculean effort. It seems Israel and it’s supporters in the US have been negative in the issue, leaving us with the impression they want war at any cost.

  2. Annie Robbins
    July 6, 2015, 7:50 pm

    this line from the joe cirincione quote:

    Though light on nuclear policy experts, the groups working to kill a deal with Iran are exceptionally well funded, heavily staffed, and relentless in their bombardment of the media and the Congress with “fact sheets,” reports, letters, visits, and tweets. As several Senate staffers told me recently, “We feel under siege.” –

    i’m so ready for this deal to be signed and over with. can someone shove a fork thru the heart of the neocon vampire. or throw water on them ‘i’m melting i’m melting!’ just make them disappear forever. enough already!

    and Zarif is hot hot hot.

  3. yonah fredman
    July 7, 2015, 2:15 am

    If one opposes the Iranian regime does that make one automatically a neoconservative? I would assume not. It is the use of power, coercive power, whether military or economic sanctions that seems to define one as a neoconservative. But if someone opposes the Iranian regime:
    (It is after all rather retrograde. It is only because you’s all compare it to Israel that you can find something positive to say about it. It is only because the US installed the Shah all those 60 years ago, that those who feel guilty for American misdeeds, feel that the ayatollahs’ reign is a reasonable swing of the pendulum. But in fact it is not a democracy by any stretch of the imagination. )
    So if someone opposes the Iranian regime, then precisely what means of opposition can one advocate before one is called a neoconservative?

    • Citizen
      July 7, 2015, 6:45 am

      @yonah fredman

      When is the last time Iran initiated a war or stole land? Occupied foreign land? Instigated a coup in a foreign land? Is it bad or good to be officially against usury? To not deal in petro dollars? If severe economic sanctions are war, has not Iran been defending itself for years now? What countries in the Middle East have more domestic democracy than Iran? Please list them, if any.

      • yonah fredman
        July 7, 2015, 5:24 pm

        citizen- I do not consider myself a fan of the governments of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but I doubt that their sovereigns would agree regarding the innocence of Iran. as far as democracy I would cite tunisia which i know little about and lebanon where the major problem is sectarianism, but other than that problem, they tend towards democracy. I have no proof, but i believe that iran was behind the bombing in Buenos Aires of the Jewish center and I consider them revolutionaries with a tendency towards antiJewish sentiments. I don’t know how the middle east will play out in the next twenty or so years, but i think this pretense that Iran is just some happy go lucky bunch of well meaning people is malarkey. i understand that those who oppose israel will take umbrage in those that attack iran. I accept that like a law of newton’s physics. but this pretense that the ruling ayatollahs are a bunch of sweetie pies stinks. i don’t believe it and i don’t even believe that phil believes it, it’s just that it’s contrary to the israel lobby and therefore all aboard!

        will there be turmoil in the middle east the next twenty years? yes. will iran play a positive role? based on what? the audacity of hope? the present generation in iran is not the ones who rule the country. the country is ruled by the revolutionary guards and by the ayatollahs. i really don’t know enough about the region to understand the vision of iran as a positive player, i don’t understand the sunni shiite conflict enough to understand where exactly isis fits in and the muslim brotherhood and it looks to me as complicated as a chess board, but no one has shown me the strategy of where this leads to the endgame and thus purely on faith of the audacity of hope, well, i have no faith in the ayatollahs or in the revolutionary guard and when you talk about getting power away from them i will know that you are focused on the people of iran rather than opposing israel.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 7, 2015, 5:43 pm

        I doubt that their sovereigns would agree regarding the innocence of Iran.

        agree with what? i didn’t hear the term “innocent”

        just some happy go lucky bunch of well meaning people is malarkey

        how come you can’t argue the points people made instead of making up hogwash? not only do we have to deal w/netanyahu making ‘most evil in the world’ statements re iran, now we get baby talk.

        I have no proof, but i believe that iran was behind the bombing ..

        so what? you can’t build your argument ‘most awfulest’ resting solely on some belief.

      • DaBakr
        July 9, 2015, 11:38 pm

        @cz

        you have to be blind deaf or dumb to not know that Iran is currently the most expansionist regime in the entire ME. It his its troops, arms, misses and senior military advisors (right-remember all of those US ‘advisors’ in Vietnam in the early 60s?) in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon. It has a military equipped with advanced Russian arms that patrol the meditrann sea and has a theocratic , charismatic and totalitarian leader who not only has an iron grip on power but openly promotes the spread of his shi’a messianic religion to cover the whole ME if not the world. Just because it hasn’t “initiated a war” doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous and expansionist.

        But your world view seems to be if its against the Zionist entity then whatever, whenever no matter what the risks or costs. That is a brilliant take on FP. With geniuses like you around we could have a dozen little Kim Jong us around. I am sick of hearing that iran is a “rational” actor as if that means anything other then Khameini wants to remain in power no matter how many opponents he has to kill or imprison and he doesn’t want to get his butt bombed by the US.

        And I haven’t heard anybody equate the regime in Iran with the millions of Iranian people -including its military and IRG. Of course Iranians want this deal because it would theoretically release billions to Iran of which it is likely the mullahs will spread only a tiny fraction around to the people but anything helps under desperate conditions and their lives will improve somewhat.

      • oldgeezer
        July 10, 2015, 12:19 am

        @DaBakr

        Look I don’t think you are totally dumb so don’t pretend to be an absolute idiot.

        Iranian has not expanded it’s territory one inch. In some cases Iran is involved at the behest of the legitimate authorities and in others it’s merely (possibly) the supplier of arms to various groups.

        The only expansionist state in the middle east is Israel which holds territory under force of arms, violence, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and oppression that legitimately belongs to three other states.

        Iraq was expansionist and met the fate that should also be met by Israel for it’s war crimes.

        As an amendment I will include ISIS as expansionist even though it is not a state. Both Israel and ISIS share common goals for their tribes.

      • Kris
        July 10, 2015, 12:56 pm

        @DaBakr: “Just because it (Iran) hasn’t “initiated a war” doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous and expansionist.”

        Just because we haven’t seen the tooth fairy put a quarter under our pillow, doesn’t mean she doesn’t put them there, right?

        Nice attempt at misdirection, but the world actually has seen Israel initiate wars, carry out massacres, defy U.N. resolutions, promote lies, and deform the U.S. government for decades. When the misdirection is crude enough for the audience to spot, the magic trick flops.

    • talknic
      July 7, 2015, 7:55 am

      yonah fredman “If one opposes the Iranian regime does that make one automatically a neoconservative?”

      If one could put up a rationale other than the NeoCon crappolla you might have a point.

    • tod77
      July 7, 2015, 11:01 am

      “If one opposes the Iranian regime does that make one automatically a neoconservative?”

      Yonah – if one does not oppose the nuclear deal does that make one automatically a supporter of the Iranian regime?

      I do not think anyone claims the Iranian regime to be democratic or a role model for human rights.
      I have friends within Iran that oppose the regime but are obviously very hopeful that a deal will pull through.

      The question is whether the deal is a good one or not. Is this deal the best way to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear arsenal (assuming they might want one)?

      I think what the article tried to present was that we are being fear-mongered into opposing the deal without being given enough information to judge for ourselves.
      As the article states:”…the media are misrepresenting the debate…”

      I will criticize the article for doing the exact opposite by feeding us sentences like:
      “Nuclear experts overwhelmingly agree the deal is a good one;There is an overwhelming consensus among experts that a negotiated accord is the best, and likely the only, way to ensure that Iran never builds a nuclear weapon.”
      There is a big difference between saying that “a deal is good” and saying “the deal is good”.

      I completely believe that reaching a good deal is the right way forward.
      Is the deal currently being negotiated a good deal?
      I don’t know – I can’t find straight-forward facts to let me judge for myself…

    • Mooser
      July 7, 2015, 4:37 pm

      It (Iran) is after all rather retrograde. It is only because you’s all compare it to Israel that you can find something positive to say about it. “

      ROTFLMSJAO!! If you say so, Yonah, if you say so. I bet you’re right, too.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 7, 2015, 5:47 pm

      It is the use of power, coercive power, whether military or economic sanctions that seems to define one as a neoconservative.

      that’s crazy. i totally support the use of economic sanctions as coercive power under certain conditions and i am not a neocon. this is just goalpost moving hogwash.

  4. HarryLaw
    July 7, 2015, 5:09 am

    Billionaire Thomas Kaplan and a family fundraiser foundation operated by Republican mega-doner Sheldon Adelson, revealed to be behind the group United Against Nuclear Iran [UANI] they accounted for three quarters of total revenue for the tax year 2013. http://www.lobelog.com/document-reveals-billionaire-backers-behind-united-against-nuclear-iran/

  5. Citizen
    July 7, 2015, 6:50 am

    Where I live my TV has been bombarded with Anti-Iran Deal ads for the last week. They urge the viewer to call selected government reps to stop the deal. Some show Bibi saying no deal is better than a bad deal. They all paint Iran as a war monger intent on tossing nukes around.

  6. eljay
    July 7, 2015, 8:07 am

    Yesterday Netanyahu said the deal gets worse by the day and that it is a “jackpot” for Iran … :

    This deal, as far as we can see, comes on almost daily concessions from the P5+1 to growing Iranian demands. Every day, more concessions are made and every day the deal becomes worse and worse. … This deal will pave Iran’s path to a nuclear arsenal. It will give them a jackpot of hundreds of billions of dollars with which to continue to fund their aggression and terror …

    Sounds like Israel, hypocritically, doesn’t want Iran to win the same jackpot it won decades ago: Endless concessions from the West, a nuclear arsenal and hundreds of billions of dollars with which to continue funding aggression and terror (and other (war) crimes).

  7. lysias
    July 7, 2015, 5:53 pm

    I heard Philip Gordon interviewed on the radio a couple of days ago. He said that we now share some vital interests with Iran (most importantly, combating ISIS) and that, if Assad were to fall under present conditions, it would be a catastrophe. I suspect Obama, his boss until recently, shares those opinions.

    Retired Col. Andrew Bacevich was on a panel on the PBS News Hour a couple of weeks ago that was discussing what policies to adopt in the Middle East. Bacevich said we should enter a quafi-alliance with Iran to fight ISIS, the way we allied ourselves with Stalin to defeat Hitler. All the other people on the panel — according to what the moderator said — made faces when Bacevich said this, and they all proceeded to say how intolerable Bacevich’s idea was.

    But this shows what some people in Washington are now thinking.

  8. Shingo
    July 8, 2015, 8:49 am

    A great speech by Zariff. He makes the Americans and Israelis look like rank and deranged amateurs.

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