Branding the Revolutionary Guard Corps as terrorists serves Israel and Saudi Arabia’s interests but makes an Obama-style rapprochement by a future president more difficult
With the stroke of a pen, the Donald Trump administration declared more than 11 million Iranians – nearly one-seventh of the country’s population – terrorists. The unprecedented move to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization has rightfully raised concerns that the John Bolton-Mike Pompeo wing of the administration is pushing a clueless Trump closer to open conflict with Iran. But the greater risk is not the short-term impact of this reckless decision, but the way it will entrap future administrations – long after Trump has left the White House – in a no-win enmity with Iran.
The sad history of the US and revolutionary Iran cannot be understood solely from the perspective of these two countries alone. From the outset, it has been an enmity driven as much by the designs of other Middle East powers as by the passions of decision makers in Tehran and Washington. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia have for more than two decades feared that a US-Iran rapprochement would come at their expense and would deprive them of the favorable regional position American hegemony in the Middle East has provided them with.
American flexibility elicited Iranian flexibility. Goodwill begot goodwill. Respect unclenched fists on both sides
Trita Parsi is the author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy