By Dr. Seyed Asadolah Athary Maryan
Professor for political science and international relations at the Tehran and Gazvin Universities
Translated by Seyid Ali Gaemmagami and Yunus Soner
The relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and American can be evaluated in the perspective of international political science. In this essay, we will evaluate these relations first during the Trump administration, and then discuss their perspective during the Biden administration.
We will seek answers to the following questions:
– How were the relations between Iran and the US during the Trump administration?
– Which are the most important current areas of conflict and cooperation between Iran and America?
– What is our forecast for the development of conflict and cooperation during the Biden administration?
– What is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s fundamental expectation from the US?
The relations between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the US reach beyond the positioning of the fractions of “Reformists” and “Conservatives” and include matters of national security and interest. The Conservatives have perceived Biden’s electoral victory as a threat, meanwhile the Reformists considered it as an opportunity for new openings and developments.
On the contrary, some Reformist factions argued that, in a case of Trump’s electoral victory and rising pressure on Iran, a change of governance would be possible. To state it more clearly, they considered that Iran’s domestic dynamics were not enough for a change, thus giving up any hope on internal actors and betting on foreign intervention for national change.
In order to fully comprehend and understand this topic, we are relying on three different assumptions.
Both of the mentioned political and social fractions are continuing their influential existence on the Iranian political stage, being supported by different sources of power.
As two decisive and competing fractions, the Reformists’ and Conservatives’ view of the US can determine Iran’s national future and destiny.
The Conservatives are mainly supported by the military industrial sector, by segments of society that prefer pre-capitalist life styles, by lower classes of society, by those employed in state and public institutions, by appointed elites and employees of revolutionary institutions and organizations. The Reformists enjoy the support of middle classes and bureaucrats. While the Reformists are more open minded, the Conservatives are more principled and brave. Concerning theories of international politics, the Conservatives tend to the Realist School, while the Reformists share more the views of Immanuel Kant. The two factions have therefore concerning international relations and foreign policy approaches which are based on different norm values.
According to the first assumption, America impedes the development of Iran’s foreign policy.
According to the second assumption, Iran’s social structure is characterized by, what the author of the Clash of Civilizations Samuel Huntington had defined as “praetorian”. This determines the Reformists’ social positioning and influence. Reformists take stances according to their social influence. The Reformists are not the dominating force, the dominating political force and locomotive travels on a different track then theirs, thus, they only position themselves over the civil society.
According to the third assumption, Iran and America cannot exchange their views and positions effectively and constructively because of the fact that there is no direct relation between them. Their communication happens indirectly and via mediators, which in turn delivers messages according to their own interests. If the two sides succeed in establishing direct contact, then misunderstandings, asymmetries and wrong interpretations can be avoided. For instance, relations on the topic of the Iraq Crisis were managed in direct talks between the sides. The representatives of the Conservative fraction have led these talks on Iranian side. Direct contact and communication between the sides would contribute to better understanding of each other.
We can interpret the Reformist fractions approach to Biden’s victory based on these assumptions.
Relations between Iran and America during the republican Trump administration
Historically, Iran has considered the US as a friendly, protective and neutral power in face of Great Britain and the Soviet Union’s close threats to Tehran.
Following harsh warnings and threats from the US, the Soviet Union has abandoned Iran’s northern territories and retreated. But the situation has changed because of the coup d’état organized jointly by the CIA and the MI6 against the elected and democratic Iranian government of Dr. Mohamed Mosaddegh. At the same time, our neighbor Turkey has become a member of NATO. Iran and America signed bilateral agreements on friendship, consular services, economic and trade cooperation in 1955.
Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi’s objection to the US was the following: In comparison to its relations to NATO-member Turkey, the US was treating Iran as a kept woman.
The Marxist Left has tried to impose its hysterical anti-American views on the Iranian society in the 1960s and 1970s. The religious Left in Iran was also influenced by this approach. After the Iranian Revolution’s victory, students occupied the Iranian embassy. This event changed the direction of the Revolution. America supported the Iraqi Baath regime’s attack and war on Iran, they bombed Iranian oil platforms and the Iranian navy in the Persian Gulf, they attacked Iranian oil wells and shut down an Iranian passenger airplane. America additionally imposed economic sanctions on Iran. Thus, the feeling and perception of distrust between America and Iran has reached its peak.
During the George Bush administration, the Islamic Republic of Iran has cooperated closely with the US in the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But still, America qualified Iran as part of the “axis of evil”. During the Obama administration, the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” was signed. As it is known, the representatives of America, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany on the one side and the Islamic Republic of Iran on the other have signed the JCPOA on July 14th, 2015.
With the UN Security Council’s resolution 2231 following this agreement, the Iranian peaceful nuclear program was officially accepted. But Donald Trump claimed that this agreement was deficient and only benefiting Iran, thus retreating from the agreement unilaterally. Trump also claimed that a new and far more comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran was necessary.
Different opinions and perspectives were articulated in Iran concerning Trump winning the elections and becoming president. Some Conservative fractions were glad that he was elected president. They even organized celebration festivities in some neighborhoods and offered sweets to the public, which is a traditional custom to celebrate. This happened due to the following reasons:
1. Trump tries to disrupt the traditional state structure and established political order in the US. This answers the demand of certain centers of power. But the question remained unanswered how America’s crushing down would benefit Iran.
2. Trump is a businessman and easy domesticate. It will be easier to negotiate and agree with him.
3. The Conservatives observed that Trump has a position closer to Russia, which is Iran’s political ally. The Reformists on the other hand consider Putin’s government a dictatorship. The Syrian crisis exemplified that with Russian intervention, Moscow and Tehran have taken a more coordinated stance.
4. Trump is a character without balance that will destroy itself.
5. In contrast to his Democrat competitor Hillary Clinton, Trump does not care about human rights violations in Iran.
How realistic were these assessments that some fractions of the political establishment in Iran have made at the end of the day?
Astonishingly, political actors in Iran have displayed two different approaches concerning Biden’s election too.
The goal of the Trump administration was the following: exercise maximum pressure, incite on that way domestic instability, create a societal explosion without firing one shot and at the end, impose on Iran the process of a Soviet-style implosion. According to Trump, Iran’s political, security, economic and ideological power need to be controlled and limited, the country had to be isolated by Europe from the ‘Free World’, just as it had been done in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. The US President was proposing to limit and isolate Iran within its borders.
After being elected, Trump immediately and urgently prohibited the entrance of citizens from Iran and 6 other countries into the US. On May 8, 2018, he signed the presidential order to retreat from the JCPOA and imposed economic sanctions, while ignoring and violating UNSC resolution 2231. His goal was to force Iran to negotiations with America.
The US sanctions against Iran have started in 1996. They also include penalties for Iran’s agreements with companies of third parties. The US has enacted a wide range legislation that targets several Iranian activities. The Iranian government is not allowed to own US banknotes, its assets in the US financial system are put under the control of the US Treasury, foreign banks that pursue transactions with Iran will be excluded from the US financial system, Iranian government was prohibited to transfer funds to Iran, the country’s access to valuable mines, gold and silver was prohibited. Furthermore, Iran’s trade with all energy products, oil, gas and petrochemical products, its maritime transportation, its maritime assurances, its civil aviation, its national oil company (NIOC) and its national oil shipping company (NITC) were targeted by sanctions.
By imposing unilateral, inhuman sanctions the American imperialist state has tried to domesticate Iran and stop its development. America has imposed more then 1500 different sanctions on Iran. Trump also limited the Iranian diplomats liberty of travel.
Further developments in the Iranian – American tensions during the Trump administration were: cyber attacks, attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, the capture of an American UAV by Iran, the shot down of the most sophisticated US UAVs, the terror attack of the US on Qasem Soleimani and his martyrdom, the Iranian ballistic attack on the Ayn-ul-Assad US military base and furthermore.
For the first time since the Russian-Iranian war, Iran has stood up against a hegemonic power and retaliated.
With its regional politics, America has supported the regime of Israel in all dimensions; Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem and increased attacks on Iranian-supported anti-Zionist Resistance Forces.
Upon US pressure, Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan signed the ‘Abraham Accord’, entered the process of normalization with Israel and turned their backs on the Palestinian liberation struggle against the Zionist regime. This has caused further tensions between Iran and the concerning Arab countries.
The US pressures Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey to normalize and develop relations with Israel, because it wants to raise the pressure on Iran. America’s and especially Trump’s goal in imposing economic sanctions on Iran was to deteriorate the people’s living conditions and to provoke popular insurgencies against the government. Consequently, popular protests happened in 2013 and 2017.
After the unilateral cancellation of the JCPOA the Secretary of State in the Trump administration, Mike Pompeo has made a statement in May, called for a new agreement with Iran and declarred a 12-point-list of demands:
1. First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.”
2. Second, Iran must stop uranium enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor.
3. Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.
4. Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
5. Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.
6. Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
7. Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.
8. Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
9. Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.
10. Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior Al Qaida leaders.
11. Iran, too, must end the IRG [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.
12. And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks. 
But the Islamic Republic of Iran has not given in to Trump’s threats, has not entered negotiations and did not stop its research and development of missiles. On the contrary, Iran has reviewed its commitments within the JCPOA step by step and gradually cancelled them. Thus, Iran left the other signatory countries with the alternative of either fulfilling the agreement or cancelling it altogether.
Iran tries to maintain validity and the international application of the JCPOA, as it was signed in 2015. In spite of the opposition of the 5+1 countries, Iran has raised the uranium enrichment levels from 3.6% to 20% and started producing and using new, advanced centrifuges.
In spite of Trump’s pressure and threats, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution has announced the strategy of “No negotiations nor war”.
But some Reformists interpreted this strategy differently. For instance, Saeed Hajjarian noted in his essay titled ‘Hating Imperialism and Protecting the Revolution’ the following: “Concerning negotiations with foreign powers, one first has to acknowledge that negotiation itself is not a negative issue. Direct and indirect negotiations are possible, no matter whether the counterpart is from the Democrat or the Republican Party. But the negotiations need to be open and transparent, Western demands of negotiations with pre-conditions should be rejected and national interests should be safeguarded. Although it is an archenemy of the US, the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea for instance has started negotiations with America and added a new defeat to Trump’s list of failures.”
What worried the Iranian society was the possibility that the US could attack Iran, just as it had done in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. And there is at least one moment, where Trump had decided to attack Iran and blew it off at the very last moment.
Areas of conflict and cooperation between Iran and America
A – Areas of cooperation between Iran and America
Tensions between Iran and America continue since the victory of the Iranian Revolution on February 11th, 1979. The process is characterized by waves of conflict and cooperation. The US’ presence in Iraq and Afghanistan turns the two countries into neighbors.
Iran and America pursue cooperation and conflict simultaneously.
Following the Iranian Revolution and the governance of the Moderates and Liberals, a paradigmatic change took place in Iran’s foreign policy.
During the Cold War, Iran was the US’ regional ally. Iran was member of the Bagdad Pact and the CENTO. Before that, Iran had determined its position with the Treaty of Saadabad Pact, signed in the Saadabad Palace in Tehran on July 8, 1937 between Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. After establishing the Islamic order in 1979, Iran has announced the cancellation of the treaty.
America was attaching a special importance to Iran’s geopolitical and geostrategic position. Iran had functioned as a bridge in the wars against Nazism, fascism and the struggle against leftist totalitarianism. But Western powers have not paid their duties to Iran. Turkey and Israel were benefitting disproportionately from Western support, meanwhile all three, Turkey, Israel and Iran were serving US’ interests in the ‘Trident Alliance’.
As Iran and America were close allies, both sides signed in March 1957 an 11-point-agreement on the ‘Peaceful use of a nuclear program’. America granted the University of Tehran a light-water-reactor of 5 MW in 1958. This reactor was working with uranium enriched up to 93%. The university has opened a nuclear sciences department and started educating students. In 1974, Iran has established an Atomic Energy Institution. This institution’s purpose was to enable and supervise the construction of 4 different nuclear power plants of 20 MW with the support of companies from the US, Germany and France in the cities of Esfahan, Bushehr, Darkhovin and Arak. It was planned that these constructions would be finished and the plants would start working in 1995.
Due to the policies of reconstruction and development started during the presidency of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s economy has started to progress. During his successor’s, Mohammad Khatami’s administration, the Reformists were forced to follow a compromising line due to the popular masses’ pressure and the demands of the middle classes and civil society. While Iran and America were strategic competitors since the Iranian Revolution, they entered the relationship of strategic hostility during the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran started displaying its presence as a cultural cohesion of Islam and Iranian culture, and the country rose up.
In Turkey, first Necmettin Erbakan and later Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tried to repeat the events that took place in Iran. But they were not able to use the opportunities to their full extent. Turkish leaders tried to move away from America, whenever they found according support in the population. But they failed.
After the success of the Iranian Revolution, US-Iranian relations need to be seen mainly as based on threats. The influence of Marxist thought lead to a dualism in Iran: Struggle against the US and the West in terms of ideology, philosophy and politics on the one side and adoption and praise of Western technology on the other. This approach has come to be a cornerstone for Iranian decision makers and influential politicians.
Iran has founded to different great civilizations and played an important role in the start of the rationalist Enlightment between the Renaissance and the 4th century. America is the founder and leader of the modern civilization, and its existence as a symbol of modern civilization cannot be ignored. America and Iran have a wide range of common interests, but these were seldom evaluated after the Revolution.
The process of cooperation between America and Iran in certain fields
America and Iran have cooperated in certain fields. For instance, they cooperated indirectly in the 8-years war that started with Iraq’s attack on Iran. Their cooperation was on display in November 1986 with the “Irangate – Mc Farlane enterprise”. They also cooperated in the Bosnian War and in the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Iran and America have also pursued a limited cooperation against the Saddam Regime in Iraq. After this limited cooperation, both countries continued to work together in some fields. America and Iran have joint interests and they can revivethis process.
Possible areas of cooperation are:
1- Iran is a country with rich oil and gas resources. In this aspect, it is number 2 worldwide. Iran has a developed petrochemical industry with a great potential. Iran and American can also cooperate on matters such as oil and gas pipelines and energy transfer.
2- America and Iran could have cooperated on oil and gas transfers from Central Asia over the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus. But this opportunity has been lost.
3- Iran and America can cooperate in fighting terrorism and Infidel (‘takfiri’) terror groups, fighting al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq, fighting against violent so-called Islamists, such as the Taliban. And they can cooperate in freeing hostages and imprisoned people. Technically, a natural alliance between Iran and America was possible. But this cooperation was always limited, compartmentalized and short termed.
4- Iran and America have common goals concerning prevention of nuclear arms, weapons of mass destruction and especially a nuclear arms race between Pakistan and India.
5- Another common goal of the US and Iran is to provide and safeguard regional security.
The main issue here is that in the Iranian civil society, the youth and the middle classes prefer the West. Both countries can solve their disagreements and widen areas of cooperation. Iran cannot continue its hostility against America in the long term, because this situation causes damage to Iran’s national interests. Iran should follow a policy like Mikhail Gorbachev and keep America from being the enemy. Diplomacy here constitutes the completing element.
B – Areas of conflict between Iran and America
All countries have disagreements and conflicts of interest. The relations between Iran and America are no exception. But there should be the capacity to separate disagreements, conflicts, and processes of negotiations. The disputes between Iran and America have the level of impeding Iran’s foreign policy and relations.
The main topics of dispute are the following:
1- Iran’s peaceful nuclear program
Iran’s research and development of nuclear technology is the main field of dispute between the two countries. Iran is living in the shadow of nuclear arms, from India and Pakistan to Russia and Israel. America has deployed nuclear arms and bombs to its military bases in Turkey. Iran has faced threats from the exterior throughout its whole history. There have been various wars between Iran and Arab countries, with the exception of Syria, Libya and some neutral countries. Some Arab countries have supported the Saddam Regime with arms, logistics and Petro Dollars during Iraq’s war again Iran. Iran is a country with developed nuclear technology. Its nuclear power plants are functioning. But together with Israel and the European countries, America has turned Iran’s nuclear program into a matter of international security.
Trump has left the JCPOA and imposed sanctions on Iran in the sectors oil, banking and securities. Iran’s nuclear program is considered a problem more from the perspective of Israel, Russia and the European countries that from an American perspective. Although, one has to remember that the US gives Israel’s demands and goals the first priority. By leaving the 5+1 agreement, Trump has carried Iranian-American tensions to their peak. And Iran has responded by cancelling its commitments within the agreement.
2- Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
America accuses Iran of having weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological weapons, demanding that Iran should stop its missile program. But Iran has been a victim of chemical weapons. During the times of the Saddam Regime, companies from America, Germany, France and Italy have all delivered both weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons to Iraq. Thousands of Iranian soldiers and civilians have become martyrs and were injured by chemical weapons.
Even during the war with Iraq has Iran has not used WMD. Iran has signed the convention prohibiting WMD in 1993. Iranian leaders often articulate and emphasize that the use of nuclear weapons, microbiological weapons, WMD, and chemical weapons constitute crimes of war and crimes against humanity. The Iranian nation, which has been victim of WMD and chemical weapons, is still under the threat of regional countries that own and produce nuclear, chemical, biological weapons. Therefore, Iran strongly demands that the region should be cleared of any WMD and nuclear weapons. Also, the Islamic thought considers the use of WMD and nuclear weapons as unlawful and sinful.
In November 2018, the former US Secretary of State accused Iran of having WMDs.
3- The dossiers of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine
America accuses Iran of intervening in domestic politics of its neighbors. Iran’s Axis of Resistance or in other words, its “strategic depth” consists of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. America considers Iran as well as the resistance forces in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, in short, all Iranian forces as sources of threat. The Conservative fraction in Iran on the other side evaluates this process and situation as strategic depth and an Axis of Resistance. But some Reformist fractions argue that Iran should prioritize its national interests. Iran’s reformers demand in general that along with the nuclear program and the uranium enrichment, Iran also needs to develop and enrich its democracy.
During the war, the US was also accusing the Soviet Union of interference into other countries’ domestic affairs and demanding that Moscow had to retreat back into its own borders. Washington made this accusations and demands as part of a strategy. Russia on the other side has intervened during Soviet times into countries of Eastern Europe or in Afghanistan, trying to continue and strengthen its dominance. When the Soviet Union retreated back into its borders, its dissolution began and the mentioned countries were left to US dominance and occupation.
The Iranian government is very well aware of the Soviet and Russian experience. Iran rejects the imposition of an order in the Middle East, which can be described in Thomas Hobbes’ words as “homo homini lupus est”, or the “fight of all against each other”, and it also rejects the imposition of a scenario similar to the Soviet Union’s crushing down on itself. On the contrary, Iran has turned this potential weakness into a position of strength for itself.
4- The dossier of Israeli occupation
Iran rejects Israel’s occupational existence. As a solution for the Palestinian Question, it demands a human rights and international law oriented “Referendum on the Peace Plan in Palestine”, which was also presented to and supported by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. 90% of the disputes between America and Iran result from the racist Israel’s problems. Iran and America have converging interests in the Middle East. Iran emphasizes frequently that Israel is an Apartheid regime. But America is Israel’s greatest supporter, turning in Israel in an important force in the Middle Eastern equation. Israel for sure has also weak points. Israel especially spends efforts to prevent a close cooperation between America and Iran. America and Israel picture Iran as a regional threat and attempt thus to impede cooperation and solidarity between Iran and Islamic Arab countries. In result, some Arab and Islamic countries give up the hostility against Israel and instead treat Iran as the enemy. This has made it more difficult for Iran to defend its own and legitimate cause.
5- Arab and Israeli Peace Process
America and Israel claim that Iran has attempted to sabotage the “Arab Israeli” and “Palestinian – Israeli” peace processes, as they were advanced with the Camp David Agreement, the Oslo Accord and the Madrid Agreement. The Arabs have left the current of “Pan-Arabism” and headed towards nationalism and national interests. The Arabs have abandoned Anti-Zionism and have tried to use the peace model of Anwar Sadat and drowned in the swamp of ‘Pan-Semitism’. This development resulted, among others events, in the actual Abraham Accords. According to the Western powers, Iran is supporting the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad organizations and thus sabotaging a Palestinian – Israeli peace. The truth is the contrary, that 90% of the Palestinian territories are occupied fully by the Zionist Israel.
6- Human rights and Democracy
Violations of human rights, limitations on media, non existence of religious freedom or freedom for sects, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, acts of stoning, imprisonment of persons with dual biological identity are some of the ‘human rights and democracy violations’, which US researches connected to the American state emphasize. The writings of Kenneth Katzman, an expert in the ‘Congressional Research Service’, which is an institution connected to the US Congress, are a good example for this position.
During Trump’s presidency, accusations of human rights violations were articulated less. But America and Iran have different understandings of human right violations, and the mutual accusations are continuing.
In February 26th, 2021, the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence published a report titled “Assessing the Saudi Government’s Role in the Killing of Jamal Khashoggi”. The report had been prepared in 2018 but withheld from publication by the Trump administration. The report, to which starting with the CIA various intelligence agencies contributed, states that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Muhammed Bin Selman approved personally several acts, from the killing of Kashoggi to the hijacking to silence oppositional personalities and other acts of violence. In response, Washington imposed sanctions on 76 different people, but left the Crown Prince untouched for the sake of its own interests.
The Reformist Fraction on the other side criticizes political measures in Iran and demands reforms. Destructive oppositional groups outside Iran use these criticisms as means against the government.
The US President Jimmy Carter (governance 1977 – 1981) also then had criticized the Shah for violations of human rights, and Iran’s domestic opposition against the Shah had kept these critics on the agenda and used. To prevent Iran from attacks on its human rights approach, the people have to be educated on what true and real human rights are.
7- Accusations of terrorism against Iran
America accuses Iran of terrorism. The Trump administration accused Iran of supporting Al Qaeda.
But the Irish-British journalist Robert Fist, who has interviewed the former leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden three times between 1994 and 1997, states, citing Ahmad Muwaffak Zaydan, the following: “Among those who acted together with Osama Bin Laden were: 63 British, 30 Americans, 8 French, 1660 citizens from North African countries, 180 citizens of Saudi Arabia, 480 Yemenis, 430 Palestinians, 270 Egyptians, 520 Sudanese, 80 Iraqis, 33 Turks and 180 Filipinos. Al Qaeda was a salafist and taqfiri terror group. And there was not even one Iranian citizen there.” The population of Tehran has condemned back then the terror attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 and declared its solidarity with the American people.
8- Differences in ideology and values
The differences between Iran and America concerning way of thinking, ideology and values are striking. Some elements of the power centers in Iran are against the West and America, meanwhile some others are have embraced a more pragmatist approach in time. We have witnessed these two currents in Iran, just as they also had developed in the Soviet Union and China before.
In China, the reformist fraction has developed a different and new approach excluding political reforms. But the Soviet Union’s reformist opening has led to the elimination of this current.
During the presidency of Sayyid Mohammad Khatami, the Reformist and moderate fraction has applied the Chinese model. But because of the weaknesses in the leading cadres, no success was achieved concerning the US sanctions. The hostility and crises between America and Iran continue, with the according discourse, behavior, identity and interests since dozens of years. (15) The disputes and cooperation between Iran and America does not need be to a zero-sum-game but can turn into a constructive process. The relations between the two countries can be described as “Janus-headed”, that is, one side of the face looking to the left, the other to the right. Both countries cooperate in certain areas based on joint interests, while at the same time having distinct opinions on national, regional and international level. For instance, the JCOPA has been signed. But later on, the agreement did not continue.
On matters of the region, Iran and America are accounted for all problems. But Russia, Turkey and some Arab countries have made use of the Iran-America dispute and gained some benefits. Just as Turkey, Russia and Iran have signed the Astana Agreement to solve problems, Iran and America can also start negotiations to solve their problems.
The former, extreme right wing US president Donald Trump has left the JCPOA with Iran, has prohibited the issuance of entry visa to Iranian citizens, has provoked Saudi Arabia, Israel and the UAE against Iran, has included the IRGC into the international terror list, has imposed heavy sanctions, has threatened Iran with military attacks, has martyred the Iranian Commander Qasem Soleimani with a terror attack in Bagdad and martyred the Iranian nuclear scientist Muhsin Fahrizadeh with a terror attack in Tehran. All these actions of Trump have brought the Conservative and the Reformist fractions closer to each other. Consequently, Sayyid Mohammad Khatami has emphasized that national consensus and solidarity need to be established.
America’s sanctions, aggressive actions and positions have weakened the Reformist fraction.
Mutual demands of Iran and the US
Expectations of relations during the Biden presidency