Iran, You Ran, We All Ran
Everyone who thinks they know all the aspects of the Iran deal raise hands -- Secretary Kerry, put your hand down.
I have no idea whether this is a good deal, a bad deal, or no deal at all. I hope it is a good deal and I hope it leads to a safer Middle East and, thus, a safer world.
But I don't know.
This deal was brokered by what is known as the P5+1. That is the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (U.S., France, Russia, China, and France) plus Germany which, as we mentioned before, lost World War II about 68-plus years ago and is not a P member of the SC. And, what I do know is that what we have been told and what has been published is likely but a portion - maybe a tiny portion - of what was actually agreed to.
I guarantee you that in addition to the public materials there are a ton of (with full credit to Monty Python) winks, nods, and nudges about what each side has really promised to do, promised not to do, promised to say and, maybe most importantly, what not to say.
The headline, as you know if you were up late enough on Saturday night to hear the President's speech, is under the terms the six-month deal: Iran has agreed to essentially freeze in place its nuclear enrichment program in return for $7 billion in sanctions relief including allowing Iran's oil to be sold on the world market.
So, what's wrong with that?
First of all the deal lasted about 27 minutes: In spite of Secretary of State Kerry's assurances that Iran would stop enriching uranium, the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani said that Western powers have "have recognized Tehran's nuclear rights," and added:
"This right has been explicitly stipulated by this agreement, stressing that Iran will go on with enrichment. Enrichment will proceed similar to in the past."
Well -- let's don't get bogged down in semantics. If Secretary of State John Kerry said Iran is not allowed to continue with its nuclear enrichment program in return for $7 billion, then that's good enough for me, no matter what the Iranians think they agreed to.
Actually, my first thought was Iran has been going broke under the pressure of the sanctions and has run out of money to continue its enrichment program. This deal allows them to put a hold on their nuclear programs, or at least slow it down, until the lifting of the sanctions and replenishes the Persian coffers and then Iran walks away - pockets a-jingling - after six months.
There are many countries that have expressed their concerns with this deal. Iran is an aggressively Shi'a Muslim nation. The Gulf States - Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Oman are all under the control of Sunni Muslim governments and, they are all concerned with the growing Shi'a/Iranian meddling in other country's internal affairs.
An unnamed Saudi Arabian leader was quoted over the weekend by CNN International as saying: "Many in Saudi Arabia worry that Iran is not being sincere, and the worry during the negotiations was that any deal reached would mean Iran would widen their influence in the region -- in countries like Lebanon and Bahrain -- and become a bigger threat."
Israel was instantaneously opposed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was out quickly with a statement saying that this wasn't so much an historic deal as an "historic mistake." The head of Israel's intelligence services said it "is more likely to bring Iran closer to having a bomb."
Republicans in Congress were quick to respond. One of the few Members who (a) knows what he is talking about and (b) is not noted for running over staff to get in front of a camera is House Intelligence Committee Chair, Mike Rogers (R-MI) said on CNN's Sunday show that the agreement "rewarded [Iran's] very bad and dangerous behavior."
But Congressional Republicans were not alone. A member of the Democratic Senate Leadership, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) threw a pail of water over the whole sanctions thing.
"As for additional sanctions, this disproportionality of this agreement makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December. I intend to discuss that possibility with my colleagues."
That's the way Senators sometimes speak. You just smile and nod and move on.
This is a high risk activity for Democrats. If the deal falls apart in six months - next May - that may add to, or even replace, Dems running for office six months after that in the Mid Term Elections.
Maybe it will work. I hope it does.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the famous "Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink" sketch by Monty Python, to the White House fact sheet on the deal and to the roundup from CNN. Also, a pretty good license plate Mullfoto.