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Iranian Hardliner: Trump Is Better For Us

November 9, 2016
Aida Ghajar
7 min read
Former Iranian MP Ahmad Bakhshayesh
Former Iranian MP Ahmad Bakhshayesh
Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
Donald Trump

With just a few days to go until the US presidential election, worldwide speculation about the winner’s potential impact on global affairs is at its most heated. The race is close. Hillary Clinton’s term as US secretary of state under Barack Obama has proved controversial, while Donald Trump has no policy record to speak of.

Iranians have long watched US politics closely, although Iranian politicians don’t often comment about it publicly. Some anti-American hardliners say there is no difference between Clinton and Trump. President Hassan Rouhani has said that Americans must choose between “bad and worse.” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has implicitly expressed his appreciation of Trump’s straight talking. But there is still no consensus about whether the Democratic candidate would be better for Iran or the Republican candidate. While Iran’s leaders, from the Shah to Khamenei, have sometimes seen Republican candidates as being more predictable than democrats, but hardly anyone thinks Trump is predictable.

To get a view from inside the Iranian government, IranWire spoke to Ahmad Bakhshayesh, a former member of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee.


How will the outcome of the US presidential elections affect US-Iranian relations?

US elections are both democratic and non-democratic. Only two parties can get to the finish line and independent candidates get eliminated. I do not see a change for the better in Iran-US relations. Iran views American policies as despotic and stands against them. For the past 38 years, the US has tried to destroy, incapacitate or isolate Iran. Iran wants to consolidate itself as a regional superpower by creating resistance fronts in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

The previous elections were about American domestic issues but in this election, Iran is discussed a lot. This means that Iran has got power and the US is realizing it little by little. There will not be much change, but this does not mean that Iran and the US have no relations of any kind. In the past 38 years, these relations have had their ups and downs. In Afghanistan, we helped the Americans and in Iraq and Lebanon, we negotiated with them. In the end, and especially in the case of the JCPOA [nuclear agreement], we had more negotiations with them than [US Secretary of State] John Kerry had with the Saudi foreign minister.

If elected president, which candidate do you believe would be better for Iranian interests?

There are two groups in Iran. The statesmen are almost all for Clinton. Since the time of the Shah, Iranians have had better relations with the democrats. But the second group wants Trump to get elected. I myself hope Trump will win.


In Hillary Clinton’s book Hard Choices, we read that she believes in strategic relations with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, and supports Israel. She also writes that she has traveled many times to Arab countries and other countries to preserve the consensus on sanctions against Iran. But — keeping in mind that the choice is between bad and worse — Trump has no such relations with Saudi Arabia. The relations between Trump and Iran could be a corollary of his relations with Putin. Clinton succeeded once in creating an international consensus against Iran and she can do it again.

We would be happier if Trump takes over. Trump questions the basic structure of the American system. He expresses the same things that Iran says against the US. For example, that the US is tyrannical, that democracy does not rule there because independent parties cannot win in the elections, that it does not observe human rights, that the elections are run by money and by the media, and that they are rigged.

When it comes to Iran, the Republicans have done what they have said, but the Democrats are treacherous. So I believe it is better if Trump gets elected. The US frequently and masterfully uses words like “democracy” and “human rights” to put us down. When Trump says that there is no democracy in the US we can use it and say “Not so fast! You talk so much against us but first put your own house in order.” This is the positive side if Trump wins.

You have mentioned that you are worried about Clinton’s support for Saudi Arabia and Israel. Besides the positive things that you said about a Trump victory, aren’t there reasons to be worried about him?

Trump does not favor Iran but here we are talking about bad and worse. At the moment, Trump has to trash Iran to get elected president because Zionist lobbies control the media. We are not seeking to improve our relations with the United States. We only want somebody at the helm who would mostly leave Iran alone. This is good enough for us.

My question was more about the region and the coalitions in the Middle East. If Trump wins the presidency, what changes would follow that would benefit Iran?

Of course, in the US it is the system that rules and that is not going to change. Look at Syria. Today, Syria is a caricature of a world war. On one side you have the resistance front of Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Syria, and on the other side, you see the Zionists, Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel. When the other side sees that the resistance front has the upper hand — both on the ground and in the air — and that terrorism is being destroyed, it resorts to diplomacy.

Trump has noticed that Clinton created ISIS to weaken Iran. Clinton and her think tank wanted to ignite a sectarian war between the Shias and the Sunnis, between ISIS and the Hezbollah, so that they would fight each other for 15 years. Then, when they get tired and the Middle East is saved from the Islamic ideology, the security of Israel would be ensured. If Clinton wins the presidency, this process will continue until Syria is weakened, Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the resistance front is destroyed, Israel is more secure, and ISIS is stronger.

You have talked about Clinton’s support for Israel. Under President Obama, relations between the US and Israel grew cooler. Some visits were canceled and evidence emerged that Israel wanted to attack Iran, but that the US prevented it from doing so. Now Israel is trying to unite Arab countries. Don’t you think that with Trump as president, Israel would play a more significant role?

The US-Israeli relationship is a strategic one. In their first terms, US presidents expand their relations with Israel to get elected to a second term. But when they get to the second term, they become more realistic and are less willing to feed Israel with American taxes. But since the Zionist lobby and the American capitalists who are mostly Jews solve the financial problems of the candidates, the presidents have to sustain relations with Israel.

The US-Israeli relationship cooled down under Obama because he was in his second term. In any case, Israel defies the US. For example, the US says that to solve the problems in the Middle East, Israel must come to terms with the Palestinians, meaning that Hamas and Hezbollah must be calmed and for that to happen, Iran must be calmed. The US tells Israel to curtail the building of settlements on the West Bank, but Israel pays no attention to what America says, continues in its own way, and believes that the US must always support Israel regardless.

Clinton had to have the support of the Zionist lobbies and the media and AIPAC to become the presidential candidate. Trump says that the elections are rigged. This does not mean that he will sever his ties to Israel. He is a Republican and knows that he has to live with Israel.

The other important question is the JCPOA. Do you think Trump’s presidency would threaten the agreement?

Trump says the JCPOA is bad because the Republicans did not want the Democrats to win this success, but when they are in government they will keep it because the US cannot get anything better. The arguments over the JCPOA in the US are part of an inter-party rivalry. It is like that here, too. For example, no matter what the government does, the principalists have something bad to say about it.



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