Last week the AP reported that President Trump sought communication with Iran. According to the report, the request for a special secret meeting was made on the day following a speech Trump delivered before the UN in which he denounced Iran as a corrupt dictatorship and a major state sponsor of terrorism.
The White House denies the claim that Trump sought a special meeting with Hassan Rouhani, the President of Iran.
Trump’s speech, given in September, was called a speech, “[…] the likes of which have never been heard by a US leader in the United Nations,” by leaders in the UN. It was seen as a move toward the unraveling of the nuclear deal Obama made with Iran and was followed by Trump’s refusal to put his signature to the recertification of that deal.
If Trump did secretly contact president Rouhani, it would be the first communication between these two heads of state since 2013, when Obama spoke to Rouhani over a White House telephone line.
Now, the Iranian Foreign Ministry is saying that Trump attempted to call Rouhani, but Rouhani rejected the call. The Trump administration quickly reported to The Hill that the story is not true, that Trump had not attempted to contact Rouhani.
The implication is, if Trump did make such a call and was rejected, it would be an embarrassment for him- that it could place Trump in a perceived place of weakness with consideration to his oppositional stance toward Iran. Once again, we find the President in a situation where either he or another party is lying. Either Trump did make the call, felt embarrassed about being rejected, and denied that it happened- or Iran has invented the story to make Trump appear foolish.
A simple examination of whatever communication devices supposedly used to make the call would reveal the truth, whether it’s phone records or some kind of data exchange via computer or smartphone. With his recent experiences with wiretapping, it seems unlikely that Trump would believe he could get away with such a lie.
What’s more – and this is highly subjective – but would a modern western mind be likely to feel embarrassed by having a phone call rejected? In this writer’s opinion, a Middle Eastern mindset would be more likely to take the gesture of a rejected call as a sign of one’s own weakness rather than a sign of aggression from the other party.
We know that invented communications are a common political tactic in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, false reports of communications and attempted communications are a common way of creating false narratives about a series of interactions. These tactics were used to alienate certain factions after Trump asked the Saudis to help in the fight against terrorist groups sponsored by Iran.
It would be easy to discover the truth about the alleged phone call, and it would be nice if Trump would pursue the requisite data- if for no other reason but to prove to these Middle Eastern powers that it is foolish to invent gossipy stories about phone calls made and phone calls rejected.
However, Congress passed a series of bills last week taking aim at Iran’s missile program. They also passed bills which are designed to frustrate the aims of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps.
While the United States is now turning against the nuclear deal struck with Iran in 2015, Europe still supports it. Nations which continue to support the deal include Russia, the UK, France, Germany, and China.
There have also been reports that French President, Emmanuel Macron has offered to act as an intermediary between the US and Iran. The offer was rejected- and it would be interesting to discover whether or not this is just another example of Middle Eastern phone tag gossip.
Tehran has, in the meantime, reaffirmed its support for the Iran deal as it was written. They have said that the terms of the agreement are non-negotiable. On the same day that Iran said Trump had tried to make a secure call to their president, Tehran affirmed that they would comply with the original terms of the deal and would not be the first to abandon it.
It is worth remembering that when the deal was signed by Obama, it was considered exceedingly weak and dangerous for him to do so. The move was regarded as allowing a hostile rogue nation to move closer to obtaining the means to carry out threats it has been making against the United States, Europe, and Israel for decades.
~ American Liberty Report