Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Was the meeting in Geneva filled with “meandering” small talk? Or did the discussions between world powers and Iran begin work on an intricately woven carpet, that in time, would yield an “elegant and durable” outcome?
The two views, the first voiced by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the second by chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, say much about how the two foes approached Saturday’s meeting to resolve Iran’s long-running nuclear row with the West.
It may also indicate prospects for a deal between officials from the “Great Satan” and “Axis of Evil”, who have spent so long without diplomatic ties that they have forgotten what makes the other one tick — while trust has all but vanished.
Perhaps the result of Saturday’s meeting (Iran, it was announced, did not give a clear answer to demands by world powers) was clear before officials sat round the table.
In the late 1990s, not long after pro-reform politician Mohammad Khatami swept to a landslide victory in the Iranian presidential elections, some Western observers started wondering if this was the step that would herald a collapse of the Islamic Republic — rather like the Soviet Union tumbled on Mikhail Gorbachev’s watch a decade earlier.
It was early days for me observing Iran. But an acquaintance of mine offered some analysis. Iran is not communist Europe. It is still a young revolution, he told me (at a time when it was
turning 20). There are still plenty of Iranians willing to die for the cause. Don’t expect it to come crashing down, he said.
There is a running joke among Western journalists, diplomats and other foreigners based in Iran who have the task of trying to understand what is going on behind the scenes: the longer you stay here, the more opaque Iranian policy making becomes.
It may be said lightheartedly, but it contains more than a grain of truth. The longer you spend trying to peel back the layers of the Iranian establishment to understand what the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is thinking, the more layers you discover.