The End of the Middle East

Op-Ed: Iran has a long history of protests. This time it’s different | Opinion

The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has spent a good deal of his time recently trying to explain the need for the Iranian regime, in particular, to step up the political and social pressure on their own people. That’s quite a feat, but that doesn’t mean the regime is going to be cowed.

So while the regime is going to continue to fight for its survival, the latest move of President Donald Trump in the Middle East may be a sign that the end may be near.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been talking a lot about Iran’s compliance with the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal. They’ve been talking non-stop about Iran, including a couple of days ago in a meeting with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. That meeting began with Rouhani announcing that Iran is open for talks about their nuclear program, as long as the other nuclear nations – the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council – are. That’s a very different message from what the White House has been putting out since the 2015 deal, and in particular, since the June 12 announcement that the United States and Iran would be returning to the table.

While Rouhani’s idea of direct talks with the United States – by which he meant sanctions relief – is the right one, that does not mean he and the president are on the same page when it comes to how the negotiations will go. Rouhani is a pragmatist in the style of a President Barack Obama, who took his country off the terrorist watch list, ended a decade of war and sent a message – albeit the wrong one – that the United States was there to stay, and would get out.

While the Trump administration has been talking incessantly, the Iranians have been talking back. They have taken a big step towards their ultimate goal by firing more than 300 workers at a uranium enrichment site near Tehran. And, even as we watch the U.S. secretary of state hold an extraordinary private meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Washington, we see another big move by the Iranians: The president has ordered the U.S. Navy to go to the Persian Gulf, and then back to the Arabian Sea, to start moving a U.

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