The coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was met with delight by the ruling elite in Iran. Yet as Dina Esfandiary of the IISS explains, even a dramatic regime change does not automatically convert old enemies into new friends.
Providing top quality surround sound for a dialogue of the deaf
In the latest episode of the Iranian nuclear programme drama, a third round of negotiations (18-19th June) was yesterday concluded in Moscow. The result was underwhelming to say the least, though unfortunately not unpredictably so. For the moment, not unlike the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the negotiations are being kept alive, despite the lack of progress, because the alternative is so unappetising and dangerous. Iran negotiates with the E3+3 (Britain, France, Germany + the US, Russia, and China) - a group so motley that sometimes getting them to agree and stick to a position is an achievement in itself and as such sufficient to elicit self-praise.
In between the actual negotiation sessions there has also been a lot of spin, leaking and other kinds of sideshows in play. It is also painfully clear that some of these attempts use the media (which often willingly play along) in order to soften up, or score points against, the other side in the run up to negotiations. At some point, the actors start believing and acting upon their own interpretation of what is ‘really’ going on, with their alternating public claims and off the record stances clashing to create a field of noise and interference which make the actual negotiations even harder to pursue. There is nothing wrong with the audio quality of the communication channel, the problem is that everybody is busy hearing themselves and not really listening to the other side.