To paraphrase a fictional political leader who got similarly snookered, this agreement-of-a-framework-that’s-not-really-a-deal is looking worse all the time. While Barack Obama and John Kerry make their full-court press here at home to assure Americans — and especially Senate Democrats — that the semi-quasi-deal will allow for pressure to continue on Tehran, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has other ideas. In a speech earlier today, Rouhani insisted that any final deal would lift all sanctions immediately:
Iran wants international sanctions lifted on the day of the implementation of an agreement with world powers on its nuclear programme, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday.
“We will not sign any agreements unless on the first day of the implementation of the deal all economic sanctions are totally lifted on the same day,” Rouhani said.
That’s not the only rebuke offered by Rouhani today. While Kerry demanded that Iran stop meddling in Yemen, Rouhani sent a veiled threat to the Saudi-led coalition that has all but declared war on Iran’s Houthi proxies:
Iran President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that a Saudi-led campaign of airstrikes against Yemen’s Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, was a “mistake.” Rouhani did not single out any country in particular but said, “You learned that it was wrong. You will learn, not later but soon, that you are making mistake in Yemen, too.”
Speaking on the “PBS Newshour” Wednesday, Kerry said that Tehran was “obviously” supplying the rebels, whose military advances forced Yemen’s U.S-and Saudi-backed president to flee last month. In response, Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have been carrying out airstrikes against Houthi targets since March 26.
“Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines — international boundaries — in other countries,” Kerry said. “We have an ability to understand that an Iran with a nuclear weapon is a greater threat than an Iran without one. And at the same time we have an ability to be able to stand up to interference that is inappropriate or against international law, or contrary to the region’s stability and interest and those of our friends.”
Bear in mind that the Iranians are supposed to be our credible negotiating partners in this deal. Allahpundit has already covered the collapse of the White House defense of the deal’s talking points, and in any other administration, Rouhani’s statements and Iran’s activity in Yemen would scotch any talk of allowing Iran to proceed with nuclear work in any context. The contradictions in the Obama administration’s handling of Iran demonstrates nothing more than their sheer desperation to get any kind of a deal as a bragging point for their disastrous handling of foreign policy.
It comes at a particularly bad time, too. The White House and its liberal allies has gone on a full-court press to convince enough Democrats in the Senate to allow a veto to be effective on the Corker-Menendez bill, The Hill’s Alexander Bolton reports:
In moves that appeared coordinated, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her opposition to a bill that would give Congress a vote on the emerging deal. Minutes later, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone a planned vote next week.
“Diplomacy has taken us to a framework agreement founded on vigilance and enforcement, and these negotiations must be allowed to proceed unencumbered,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Senator Corker’s legislation undermines these international negotiations and represents an unnecessary hurdle to achieving a strong, final agreement.”
Earlier on Wednesday, a coalition of liberal groups including MoveOn.org Political Action and Democracy for America threatened to retaliate against Democrats who support the review legislation championed by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (D-Tenn.).
The moves appeared to shift calculations on the politics of supporting Corker’s bill.
The measure appeared close to gaining veto-proof support on Monday night after Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) reiterated his support for the bill.
But now several of the bill’s Democratic cosponsors won’t say whether they’ll vote to approve it on Tuesday at a panel markup. They are demanding that Republicans tone down provisions opposed by the White House.
How sustainable will that be when Rouhani’s declaring that the White House is misleading Congress on the deal, and especially while he insists that Yemen fall into Tehran’s orbit? It makes an already-tough sale on bypassing Congress practically impossible. But don’t expect the White House to stop pushing for it, because the overarching principle in play here seems to be protecting Barack Obama’s reputation at home rather than American and Western interests abroad.