The leader of the Iranian Islamic Revolution does not want a war with America. At the same time, however, he does not want to negotiate. We can sum up the supreme Iranian leadership’s policy towards the “Great Satan” as the policy of “No war, no peace”.
The most pressing questions is whether the Iranian position, as outlined by the Supreme Guide, could be a “supreme policy” in the immediate term, perhaps until the end of Trump’s first term. However, could the same policy be adopted in the event that the current president wins another term or if a new president moves into the White House next year?
What we know to be true has been confirmed, as the chapters of the confrontation between Tehran and Washington revealed the mutual desire by both parties to avoid slipping into the abyss. Instead, they prefer to push things to the edge and remain there for several months. It seems that each party has its own hidden calculations and considerations behind their muscle flexing and dancing on the edge of the abyss.
Washington wants to force Iran to sit at the negotiating table. The story of the telephone number Trump passed to Swiss officials to pass on to Iran to directly contact him when they decide to negotiate indicates the uninhibited American desire to bring the Iranians to the negotiating table. This is based on Trump’s personal belief that he is the top expert at making deals and that he would be able to draft a new nuclear agreement that his predecessor, Barack Obama failed to reach.
Iran continues to send messages, nonstop, the most important of which is that American forces and American interests in the region will be within the range of its missiles and militias. It has also warned that its threats to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz is not an empty verbal threat, but a measure Tehran will not hesitate to take in the event that the situation moves towards the option of confrontation.
This situation can not last long. Soon, the parties will find themselves compelled to either take one or several steps back from the “edge” and think of political and diplomatic solutions. This is unless things go south and the rivals slip into what they do not want: a new confrontation. Either way, Iran is expected to engage in a new round of bilateral negotiations or within the framework of the P5+1 in order to reach a new agreement that includes matters and aspects other than the Tehran nuclear programme.
The truth of the matter is that the countries that signed the nuclear agreement are talking about the need to develop and amend it or to add other appendices. We have seen Western criticism of Tehran’s management of its regional role and missile programme. It does not seem that Russia is far from these criticisms, especially in light of the frequent reports confirming Russia’s “annoyance” with Iran’s role in Syria and Iran’s concern about Moscow’s positions on the repeated Israeli strikes on its targets in Syria.
The state of “no war, no peace” is likely to continue until the next American elections. Regardless of the election results, this situation will not remain the same. We will see Iran, and perhaps Washington, adopt different positions other than those inspired by dancing on the edge of the abyss.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 16 May 2019.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.