State media in Iran had a frenzy prior to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s scheduled March 30th visit to Austria. A large political-economic delegation was to accompany Rouhani, promising to return with lucrative contracts and major gains for Tehran after the nuclear agreement sealed with the West. However, the very same media outlets suddenly announced Rouhani’s “highly anticipated” Austria visit was called off. Tehran claims the Brussels terror attacks propelled a decision to cancel the visit, while Vienna emphasizes as far they are concerned the coast was clear. Then why the contradictory remarks between Tehran and Vienna?
Bogus Pretexted Unveiled
At a quick glance raising security concerns following the Brussels attacks shouldn’t be so farfetched. But of course, in such a scenario the host country, being Austria in this case, would raise security issues, not the guest, being Rouhani. This is exactly why Austrian President Heinz Fischer also lashed at Iran, emphasizing no foreign official decides for his country’s security status. These harsh remarks targeting Tehran make it crystal clear there were no security reservations for this visit, and leaving the dubious bilateral ties lukewarm at best.
Same Old, Same Old Sanctions
The harsh reality is the regime in Iran, in its entirety, had no hope to broker any concrete achievement and go a long way in the appealing Austria visit, despite the boasted sanctions relief. The day before Rouhani was scheduled to arrive in Vienna the Austrian President gave a cold shoulder in a TV interview saying, “All sanctions against Iran have not been lifted, as there are important steps left to be taken.” He went on to clarify specifically how sanctions on the SWIFT international banking network remain as a Damocles Sword hanging over Tehran’s neck. Austria and Europe alone cannot relive Iran of its sanctions, as the U.S. plays a major role in this regard. As a nail in the coffin, Fischer reminded Rouhani Austria is a merely a very small member of SWIFT. It is also worth noting that Rouhani had recently returned from a dismal visit to Pakistan.
Rouhani was left with no choice but to resort to security pretexts, knowing even such remarks would render a humiliating setback for the entire regime apparatus. If he went on with the scheduled visit to Austria, it would be a repeat scenario of Pakistan where he returned empty-handed, also an unbearable disgrace. This crisis has engulfed the entire regime in Tehran. Iran pulled the brakes on its nuclear ambitions to boast setting aside the crippling sanctions in such foreign trips. All said and done, not only have these visits failed to render any results, they are becoming the topic of flaring domestic feuds.
Neither a visit to Pakistan, Austria or any other country will catalyze any success or resolve the growing dilemmas engulfing the regime in Iran. Plagued from their nuclear dreams being defused, to Russia departing from Syria, its puppets and proxies fanning sectarian divides becoming bete noire and losing ground in Iraq and Yemen, and also the Lebanese Hezbollah being blacklisted, the mullahs in Iran are in a mayday nosedive with no parachute. The words of a senior Iranian regime expert relieves us of any further explanation:
“The [nuclear agreement] has been nothing but a disaster.”
Follow Keyvan Salami at @SalamiKeyvan
I am a human rights activities/ Journalist and I what to raise public awareness in regard to devastating human rights situation in Middle East, particularly in Iran; seeking democracy for Iran and peace for the region against nuclear Iran.