Steven Sahiounie, journalist and political commentator
The middle east region is a hot-spot and headline news is full of the tensions involving Iran and the occupation of Palestine. Steven Sahiounie of MidEastDiscourse interviewed Martin Love to better understand the back-story to the events unfolding in the region.
Martin Love is a journalist and writer who began his long career writing about his travels through the Middle East. He worked at various newspapers and magazines. He is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate school of Journalism, and studied Arabic and Islamic studies at Yale University. He lived in the West Bank in 2006, reported from Egypt in the 2011 “Arab Spring”, and was among writers who were in Syria in 2019. For the past four years he has been writing for the Tehran Times.
#1. Steven Sahiounie (SS): Iran is facing a new presidential election soon. In what way could that effect the discussions between the US and Iran on a possible new nuclear deal?
Martin Love (ML): There has been some hope that a revived JCPOA would be in place before the election in Iran, because the presence or absence of a serious hardliner replacing Rouhani might well influence the outcome of the negotiations. However, it does appear that the Biden Administration is more or less determined to revive the JCPOA with possible modifications, and the fact that the indirect negotiations have been ongoing for weeks suggests that a new iteration of the JCPOA may have some changes provided, in my view, that all the sanctions against Iran are verifiably lifted. Iran’s leadership seems totally unwilling to expand the deal to other areas of Western “concern” such as Iran’s missile defenses, but Iran may consider lengthening, for example, the time parameters of the deal. It is anyway hard to know exactly what impact the upcoming election in Iran will have or is having on a “new” JCPOA. My hunch is that it is causing the Iranians to dig their heels in and insist on as few modifications as possible, or none at all, and meanwhile the entire country is eager to have the sanctions lifted and relative prosperity restored.
#2. SS: The Arab monarchies have been pumping money into Arab media for decades to brainwash the Arab people and cause them to forget their main cause which is to free Palestine from bondage. Recently, we saw the Arab peoples rise up in solidarity with the Palestinians. In your opinion, why has the Arab monarchies propaganda project failed?
ML: Any propaganda from the Arab monarchies to divert attention from the Palestine situation may have been very, very marginally successful at times, but in the face of huge misdeeds by the Zionists (more ethnic cleansing, land grabs, house grabs, etc., cruelty even to Arab citizens of Israel, racism and so on, there was and is no way any diversion of attention could succeed. And a further part of the reason for this is that the monarchies are unpopular. Bahrain is probably the chief example of this but the Saudis and Emirate leaders are not far behind in terms of being disliked. The so-called Abraham Accords really are an abomination and it’s not likely the Saudis will sign on to them especially now post the attacks on Gaza and al-Aqsa and the fact that Hamas actually “won” the PR battle and forced the Zionists to call or agree to a cease fire. The Saudis this week allegedly disallowed an Israeli commercial plane to use Saudi airspace for a flight to Dubai, according to one report. And it’s worth noting that the Saudis have at least been talking to Iran and perhaps aiming for better relations.
#3. SS: The Israeli lobby in the US, such as AIPAC, are putting enormous pressure on President Biden to not make a new nuclear deal with Iran. In your opinion, will President Biden bow down to that pressure? Please explain your view on the subject.
ML: I don’t think it’s likely that Biden is going to bow down to demands by Israel that any revival of the nuclear deal be scuttled. For one thing, the recognition that Israel is truly an Apartheid entity and wildly unpopular across the globe and even in a growing segment of the U.S. Congress among Democrats at least is telling. The protests in the U.S. over the bombing of Gaza and ethnic cleansing in Palestine are significant, too. In addition, I don’t think the Biden Administration is happy that Netanyahu has continued to suggest and threaten that Israel may take unilateral military action against Iran. The U.S. is in no position to justifiably get dragged into another huge war in West Asia because of some Israeli attack on Iran. Fealty to the Zionists may have a limit and the American public would be generally horrified, too.
#4. SS: The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel lost significantly in their conflict with the Palestinian resistance. Did the Palestinian resistance succeed in changing the balance of power?
ML: The Palestinian resistance may not have yet altered the actual balance of power, but it sure did alter the balance of sentiment in Palestine’s favor, it seems, across the globe. The Biden gang cannot discount this entirely and continue to give the Zionists carte blanche.
#5. SS: For the first time, the war was not between Gaza and the Israeli military, but was broader in scope, as we saw mixed cities across Israel, and areas in the occupied West Bank, rose up in solidarity with Gazans. Are we seeing the beginning stages of a new intifada? And, was that the reason that the global response was to pressure Netanyahu to stop the conflict?
ML: For the first time, maybe since 1948, the Palestinians seem finally to have come together, all the various factions, to try to reject Israeli human rights depredations, ethnic cleansing and military crimes. They seem to be saying in no uncertain terms “No mas”. Mahmoud Abbas is emerging in public opinion as someone who has actually helped enforce the Israeli grip on its occupations. His future looks quite dim, and deservedly so. However, one actually defines an “intefadeh” is crucial, but it appears that something very much like one is brewing in the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel proper among Arab citizens of Israel. What happens next depends on what Netanyahu does next, but so far it looks like he is bound to do what Israel has always done – crack down harder on the ignorant assumption that Palestinians respond only to force. The right-wing Israeli game is and has always been, ultimately, the removal of the Palestinians from “Israel” one way or another in time. It will not happen. “Samud” is stronger than ever.
#6. SS: Tehran and Washington seem to be on track to signing a new nuclear deal. Will that deal be broader in scope than the original deal, and perhaps cover other files: such as Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon?
ML: I don’t think Iran’s leadership can or will tolerate any serious broadening of a revived JCPOA. Time parameters may change but Iran has been justifiably firm about its own interests all along, especially since it was the U.S. and Trump who rejected the original JCPOA and it had apparently been working almost perfectly with full Iranian compliance.
The violence this month against Palestinians in Gaza and Israel and related attacks on al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah have exposed Israel like never before as an Apartheid entity far worse than anything that existed in South Africa. The world has taken note. The U.S. as enabler of arrogant Israeli leadership and Zionism is not going to continue as it has for decades if for no other reason than public opinion has finally shifted remarkably in the U.S. to the point where many in government in the U.S. are finally unafraid to speak out against Apartheid. Sympathy for Palestinians is growing.