Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, Jerusalem Center – Iran Desk, November 22, 2020
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation
• In Iran’s domestic arena, six months before the Iranian presidential elections, the U.S. presidential election re-ignited the controversy between proponents and opponents of dialogue with the United States. President Rouhani, Foreign Minister Zarif, and other proponents of dialogue with the United States are facing fierce fire from the conservative camp that is backed by Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, who dismisses the U.S. election results and has continued to preach his Economic Resistance Doctrine.
• Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, declared that Iran would not be willing to make changes to the nuclear deal. “The agreement belongs to the past and is not open for discussion again … The United States violated UN Resolution 2231, withdrew from the nuclear agreement, caused enormous damage to the Iranian people, and must compensate for it.”
• The reformist camp called on President Rouhani to use his influence over Khamenei to the fullest extent to urge him to agree to a move toward talks with the United States. They have called to restart negotiations if the Biden administration returns to the nuclear deal or conducts behind-the-scenes talks on the required conditions that the United States would demand from Iran to enable it to return to the agreement framework.
• The conservative camp in Iran emphasizes that there is no real difference between Biden and Trump and that Democrats are just a “prettier face” with the same policy and the same intentions that were implemented so far by the Republicans against Iran.
• The conservatives state that only if the United States fulfills a long list of conditions that Iran will impose on it would they agree to return to the negotiating table with Washington regarding the nuclear deal. However, they would by no means enter into a dialogue on other issues, including ballistic missiles, human rights, or regional issues.
The front page of the Iranian newspaper Sobhe No (Morning News), November 11, 2020, addressing President Trump: “Go to hell, Gambler!” (When Trump once stated he would like to meet with Iran’s president, the late Gen. Qassem Soleimani responded, “Mr. Trump, gambler, you have business with me, but I will tell you: go to hell!”)
The U.S. elections continue to draw the attention of the Iranian leadership and media, which reports on its front pages the election process, its disputed results, and implications. Most of the publications mocked the confusion, division, and the United States’ lack of direction. The Vatan Emrooz newspaper illustrated this in a bloody cartoon published on its front page on November 11, 2020, depicting Trump’s expected departure, which will deepen the left-right chasm within the United States.