Geopolitics

What's To Gain For Iran If Biden Beats Trump

The current U.S. president has made life decidedly difficult for the Islamic Republic. But would a Biden victory really do much to benefit Iran's ailing regime?

In a street in Tehran, Iran
Hamed Mohammadi

-Analysis-

Much of Iran's ruling class is hoping for the defeat of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose administration has been particularly hostile toward Iran's clerical regime.

The country's reformist media is also hoping for a Democratic win, and openly so. But according to officials cited by the Reuters news agency, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei may also prefer Senator Joseph Biden, if only to salvage the 2015 nuclear pact with the great powers, rejected by the Trump administration.

Iranian officials like the head of the Atomic Energy Organization view the accord as close to its demise, while hardline supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei have derided it as a "rotting corpse" and want it "burned." Khamenei himself has cautioned them that it might well serve Iran's interests. But he also said recently that "we know how to burn it" if needs be.

Biden, like most Democrats, backs the pact, which is ultimately better for Iran more than having to endure harsh sanctions. And yet, there are also people in Iran who believe Biden would be a greater threat to Iran than Trump, as he would revive multilateral mechanisms and bring European powers on board to pressure the regime.

Some officials fear that with or without EU support, the United States has enough clout to pressure the regime. Legislator Ali Alizadeh, a member of the parliamentary National Security Committee, says the United States, despite opposition from other powers, will likely implement several Security Council resolutions, including the important Resolution 1929, which would impose further sanctions.

There is no telling if Biden will be the president regime lobbyists imagine he will be.

Trump is warning voters that Biden will be weak with enemy powers like Iran, Russia and China, and says Iran's leaders are looking forward to a replay of the Obama administration, when they pocketed millions in frozen Iranian monies repaid with the nuclear pact.

There is no telling, of course, if Biden will be the president Iranian officials and regime lobbyists — not to mention leftists worldwide and the Europeans — imagine or hope he will be. The mere possibility of a more "benign" U.S. president may even serve the Republicans in the election campaign.

Iran's regime, in the meantime, is in such a poor state that not even its allies China and Russia can stop the slide. Biden might not be able to either, supposing he might want to. Iran's refusal to adhere to anti-terrorism and money-laundering mechanisms have meant further isolation and more restrictions on its ailing economy.

A deputy-head of Iran's Trade Chamber, Pedram Soltani, says that Russian banks will no longer finance any transaction involving Iran, even with rubles. This was in spite of Iran and Russia announcing in 2018 that they had agreed on pursuing joint financial and banking activities without use of U.S. dollars.

Joe Biden at the presidential debate last September — Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool/CNP/ZUMA

The point is that no U.S. president, Biden or otherwise, can overlook Iran's litany of criminal actions: from the violent suppression of dissent to the torture and execution of opponents, cyber attacks abroad, aiding and financing militias, shooting down a passenger plane or threatening shipping in the Persian Gulf..

Biden, on Twitter, denounced the recent execution of jailed wrestler Navid Afkari, and wants Iran to release other political prisoners. And while the Democrats, European states or Russia and China may oppose more sanctions, their support will not go much further than political statements. Since 2018, the United States has managed to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran, and it looks likely to do so this year as well.

Some in Tehran believe that if Iran can survive Trump, it will have earned itself immunity, like a patient or an evolved microbe. Others believe the Trump administration has harmed its economy so much that Iran cannot hope to recover the wealth and influence the nuclear pact briefly gave it.

With a withering of Iran's diplomatic sway and fears of renewed protests inside the country, there is talk in Tehran of the Revolutionary guards taking power. And if accusations by reformist politicians are to be believed, that, in fact, is what their conservative opponents want.

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Thousands of migrants in Del Rio, Texas, on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Сайн уу*

Welcome to Friday, where the new U.S.-UK-Australia security pact is under fire, Italy becomes the first country to make COVID-19 "green pass" mandatory for all workers, and Prince Philip's will is to be kept secret for 90 years. From Russia, we also look at the government censorship faced by brands that recently tried to promote multiculturalism and inclusiveness in their ads.

[*Sain uu - Mongolian]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• U.S. facing multiple waves of migrants, refugees: The temporary camp, located between Mexico's Ciudad Acuña and Del Rio in Texas, is housing some 10,000 people, largely from Haiti. With few resources, they are forced to wait in squalid conditions and scorching temperatures amidst a surge of migrants attempting to cross into the U.S. Meanwhile, thousands of recently evacuated Afghan refugees wait in limbo at U.S. military bases, both domestic and abroad.

• COVID update: Italy is now the first European country to require vaccination for all public and private sector workers from Oct. 15. The Netherlands will also implement a "corona pass" in the following weeks for restaurants, bars and cultural spaces. When he gives an opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly next week, unvaccinated Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will defy New York City authorities, who are requiring jabs for all leaders and diplomats.

• U.S. and UK face global backlash over Australian deal: The U.S. is attempting to diffuse the backlash over the new security pact signed with Australia and the UK, which excludes the European Union. The move has angered France, prompting diplomats to cancel a gala to celebrate ties between the country and the U.S.

• Russian elections: Half of the 450 seats in Duma are will be determined in today's parliamentary race. Despite persistent protests led by imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny, many international monitors and Western governments fear rigged voting will result in President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party maintaining its large majority.

• Somali president halts prime minister's authority: The decision by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed marks the latest escalation in tensions with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble concerning a murder investigation. The move comes as the Horn of Africa country has fallen into a political crisis driven by militant violence and clashes between clans.

• Astronauts return to Earth after China's longest space mission: Three astronauts spent 90 days at the Tianhe module and arrived safely in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-12 mission is the first of crewed missions China has planned for 2021-2022 as it completes its first permanent space station.

• Prince Philip's will to be kept secret for 90 years: A British court has ruled that the will of Prince Philip, the late husband of Britain's Queen Elizabeth who passed away in April at 99 years old, will remain private for at least 90 years to preserve the monarch's "dignity and standing."

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

With a memorable front-page photo, Argentine daily La Voz reports on the open fight between the country's president Alberto Fernández and vice-president Cristina Kirchner which is paralyzing the government. Kirchner published a letter criticizing the president's administration after several ministers resigned and the government suffered a major defeat in last week's midterm primary election.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

€150

An Italian investigation uncovered a series of offers on encrypted "dark web" websites offering to sell fake EU COVID vaccine travel documents. Italy's financial police say its units have seized control of 10 channels on the messaging service Telegram linked to anonymous accounts that were offering the vaccine certificates for up to €150. "Through the internet and through these channels, you can sell things everywhere in the world," finance police officer Gianluca Berruti told Euronews.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

In Russia, brands advertising diversity are under attack

Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

❌ "On behalf of the entire company, we want to apologize for offending the public with our photos..." reads a recent statement by Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi after publishing an advertisement that included a photograph of a Black man. Shortly after, the company's co-founder, Konstantin Zimen, said people on social media were accusing Yobidoyobi of promoting multiculturalism. Another recent case involved grocery store chain VkusVill, which released advertising material featuring a lesbian couple. The company soon began to receive threats and quickly apologized and removed the text and apologized.

🏳️🌈 For the real life family featured in the ad, they have taken refuge in Spain, after their emails and cell phone numbers were leaked. "We were happy to express ourselves as a family because LGBTQ people are often alone and abandoned by their families in Russia," Mila, one of the daughters in the ad, explained in a recent interview with El Pais.

🇷🇺 It is already common in Russia to talk about "spiritual bonds," a common designation for the spiritual foundations that unite modern Russian society, harkening back to the Old Empire as the last Orthodox frontier. The expression has been mocked as an internet meme and is widely used in public rhetoric. For opponents, this meme is a reason for irony and ridicule. Patriots take spiritual bonds very seriously: The government has decided to focus on strengthening these links and the mission has become more important than protecting basic human rights.Russian sushi delivery Yobidoyobi removed an advertisement with a Black man and apologized for offending the Russian nation, while a grocery chain was attacked for featuring an LGBTQ couple, reports Moscow-based daily Kommersant.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Ask the rich countries: Where are Africa's vaccines?"

— During an online conference, Dr. Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija, of the African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, implored the international community to do more to inoculate people against COVID-19 in Africa and other developing regions. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3.6% of people living in Africa have been fully vaccinated. The continent is home to 17% of the world population, but only 2% of the nearly six billion shots administered so far have been given in Africa, according to the W.H.O.

✍️ Newsletter by Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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