“The U.S. does not trust Rohani”
An expert of Orientalism and American Studies at the University of Tehran, Mohammad Marandi is “not very optimistic about reaching a comprehensive solution” to the Iranian nuclear program negotiations because “the Americans and their allies will not recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
He expresses some views that are, at the very least, controversial. For example, he claims that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Iranian president, was “misquoted” when he said that he wanted Israel “wiped off” the map. What Ahmadinejad said was that “Israel must cease to exist as a political entity like apartheid South Africa.” Zionism is a racist ideology that must end, adds Marandi. And while Iran has never initiated any attack against Israel, the same cannot be said about the Jewish State against Iran, yet few in the West view Israel as a dangerous country.
Marandi defends free elections in Syria, but he provokes new controversy when he states that President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Iran via Hezbollah, should run again, despite the fact that over 140,000 people have lost their lives in the three-year war that has been ravaging the country. Marandi reminds us, though, that Saudi Arabia financially supports the extremist militias under the umbrella of Al Qaeda, and the U.S., “who created the Al Qaeda monster,” has never had a problem with being an ally of Saudi Arabia.
CartaCapital: Thanks to the Geneva negotiations among the P5 + 1 and Iran there is a whiff of optimism in the air.
Mohammad Marandi: I am not very optimistic about reaching a comprehensive solution to the negotiations. The Americans and their allies will not recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran. They still want to impose their will upon Iran and they believe that somehow President Hassan Rohani will say one thing to the Iranian people and another abroad. For instance, he assured the Iranian people that he will accept nothing less than our full rights for a peaceful nuclear program according to NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), but tomorrow he will say something different to the world. In other words, the Americans seem to believe Dr. Rohani is not honest. That is a very unrealistic assessment. It demonstrates that the West appears to understand neither President Rohani nor Iranian public opinion. President Rohani will not be willing to sacrifice Iranian rights and the Iranian political order. The public would not accept this. So the Americans and the Europeans have to be realistic about Iran. The Americans express skepticism about Iran’s nuclear program, but they have never provided any evidence that it is not a peaceful program. And until they do so, they have no argument that would be convincing to anyone in Iran. From the Iranian perspective the ball is in the American’s court. And they have to decide whether they want to move toward rapprochement, or are going to continue the current policies. Especially when the whole region is in turmoil, and the only country that is really highly influential and is stable is Iran.
CC: How do you perceive Premier Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark that the Geneva negotiations are “an historic mistake”?
MM: Everyone knows that Iran has never threatened Israel with any military attack. The American media misquoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he said that Israel should be “wiped off” the map. Ahmadinejad had said Israel must cease to exist as a political entity like apartheid South Africa. And that has always been Iranian policy. The ultimate goal of Iran is for Zionism as a racist ideology to end. The irony is that Israel relentlessly threatens to attack Iran, yet Israel is not depicted as the dangerous nation in the western media. Iran has not at any point during the last 35 years stated that it will initiate or threaten to initiate any attack against Israel.
CC: Many people interviewed in Iran have said that Ahmadinejad’s words against Israel in Farsi were that Iran would “wipe off” Israel from the map.
MM: Ahmadinejad, I repeat, said Israel should cease to exist like apartheid South Africa, but he never made any form of threat to initiate military conflict against Tel Aviv.
CC: Some observers say the nuclear talks between the West and Iran are due to the feeling that Washington believes Tehran can stabilize the region, especially Syria.
MM: Al Qaeda, the monster created by the U.S. to fight the Soviets, has become their main enemy. The September 11 attacks were a result of the U.S.’s support of these extremists in the 1980s. Now they are the main enemy of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. It is an irony, but Assad is fighting against Al Qaeda.
CC: During three years of war the Syrian Army has also killed tens of thousands of civilians.
MM: Assad has regularly stated that elements within the state, the police and the army have made mistakes. However, the Syrian Government claims that, almost from the start, extremists, including people within the Free Syrian Army (FSA; who are fighting to overthrow Assad), were involved in shootings and bombings, and there is some evidence supporting this claim. Incidentally, how responsible is Barack Obama for the innocent victims killed by drone attacks?
CC: But in Syria Assad depends on Hezbollah, which financially depends on Iran and is considered by Washington and Brussels to be a terrorist group.
MM: But Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization. They don’t cut peoples’ heads off. Their fighters don’t eat parts of their enemies’ bodies. Hezbollah is a political party recognized by the Lebanese Government. They are in the Lebanese Parliament. It is a legitimate political party. It has fought Israel because Israel tried to occupy Lebanon. It is like the African National Congress (ANC). The west called the ANC a terrorist organization and now they call Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
CC: The solution proposed by Iran is free elections in Syria.
MM: The Iranian Government proposes free and fair elections with international monitors, including countries like Brazil. The Iranians believe that the U.S., the European Union and the Saudis, among other countries, don’t want these elections. The reason? Bashar al-Assad would win them easily. CC: After all the deaths and humanitarian crisis, with Syrian refugees spread across the region, shouldn’t Assad step down? MM: Why shouldn’t Assad run? If the Syrian people don’t want him they can vote against him. They know better than anyone else whether he was personally responsible for the violence. CC: You imply that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries finance and arm extremists against the Syrian regime. MM: The choice of Saudi Arabia as an ally shows how the U.S., who talks about human rights, has no scruples. In Saudi Arabia the extremist Wahhabi ideology reigns. It is an intolerant ideology. One family rules over the country that has its name. People don’t vote. Women cannot drive cars nor have independent bank accounts. The U.S. never had problems with those issues. Just like in Latin American they had no problems dealing with Pinochet. Americans don’t like Iran because Iranians want to be independent.