As backhanded compliments go, this latest via Secretary of State John Kerry is a remarkable achievement.
Despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s destabilizing regional agenda — including its support for Houthi rebels in Iran, its backing of Hezbollah in Lebanon, its aid to Islamist militants in Syria, and its command of Shiite proxies in Iraq – the White House has bent over backwards to court the mullahs in order to advance the prospect of a legacy-saving nuclear accord.
If Iranian sources are to be believed, and there is every reason to be skeptical of Iranian sources, Islamic Republic officials are not merely targets of courting from Washington but also of obsequious flattery.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Kerry reportedly assured his Iranian counterparts that he wouldn’t mind if the president was more like Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei.
Ayatollah Alam al-Hoda claimed during Friday prayer services in Iran that in negotiations over Tehran’s contested nuclear program, Kerry told the country’s foreign minister that he “wished the U.S. had a leader like Iran’s supreme leader,” according to a Persian-language report on the remarks published by the Asriran news site.
“In the negotiations Kerry told [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif that he [Kerry] wished U.S. had a leader like Iran’s supreme leader,” according to Alam al-Hoda, who is a senior member of the Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts.
“A senior administration official told the Washington Free Beacon that such a contention is patently absurd,” the dispatch added.
Yes, it is absurd. And it’s unlikely to be an accurate reflection of Kerry’s remarks. Although, it is within the realm of possibility to believe that the secretary of state’s diplomatic courtesies might have gone a bit too far.
It is not, however, beyond the pale to note that American nuclear negotiators have gone to great lengths to give the Ayatollah whatever he wanted and more. “The Ayatollah knows that Mr. Obama wants an agreement with Iran so much that there’s almost no concession the President won’t make,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board observed on April 19. “So why not keep asking for more?”
Keep in mind that the talks began with the U.S. and its European partners demanding that Iran dismantle its nuclear program. But to persuade the Ayatollah to accept the recent “framework” accord, Mr. Obama has already conceded that Iran can keep enriching uranium, that it can maintain 5,060 centrifuges to do the enriching, that its enriched-uranium stockpiles can stay inside Iran, that the once-concealed facilities at Fordow and Arak can stay open (albeit in altered form), and that Iran can continue doing research on advanced centrifuges.
All of these concessions are contrary to previous U.S. positions, and we’re no doubt missing a few. But none of that was enough for the Ayatollah, who quickly asserted two new deal-breaking objections: immediate sanctions relief, and no inspections under any circumstances of Iran’s military sites.
If Kerry did unfavorably compare Barack Obama to Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah did not return the favor. In reaction to the civil unrest in the city of Baltimore, Khamenei pressed the United States and the president to address America’s human rights abuses. No, really!
“It’s ridiculous that even though US President is black, still such crimes against US blacks continue to occur,” read a statement released on Khamenei’s Twitter account accompanied with the hashtags “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#FreddieGray.”
“On false pretexts US police shoots ppl on streets. This is a type of power which doesn’t ensure security but leads to insecurity. #MikeBrown,” read another tweet in what became a full-fledged rant.
“Power & tyranny are different. In some countries like US, police are seemingly powerful but they kill innocents. #FreddieGray #RekiaBoyd,” a third tweet in the storm read. “Even abolition of #slavery in #US wasn’t based on humanitarian intents but on North-South wars & conflict b/t landowners & industrialists.”
For a nation that summarily executes those suspected of homosexuality, forbids free association, routinely arrests journalists, holds Americans for ransom, and brutally represses dissent via the paramilitary Basij, these are some bold statements. Maybe John Kerry will have something to say about Iran’s human rights record. After a nuclear deal has been finalized, of course.