Rob Malley, the White House special envoy, has said United States Iran policy is based on a ‘global commitment’ to human rights.
In an interview with former State Department advisor Aaron David Miller Monday, Malley said media had failed to reflect the approach of the Biden administration, which had been “much broader” than its 18-month efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Malley repeated his previous apology for a tweet October 23, which he noted had been attacked by some Iranians in the US as “diminishing the demands of the protestors.” The special envoy also referred to “some attacks against Iranian Americans…particularly against women…[that had been] been borderline threats, harassment, sometimes in a very sexualized way.”
Malley who has many opponents in the American Iranian community for his perceived weakness toward the clerical regime, praised the protesters and condemned the “gut-wrenching violence” violence against women and girls by the government.
An online petition launched by activist Masih Alinejad last week asking President Joe Biden to replace him has received more than 117,000 signatures.
Malley said that he understands the community’s emotions at this sensitive moment, seeing the struggle by the people in Iran and government’s violent response.
Defending the Biden administration’s handling of JCPOA talks,on hold since September, Malley said there was “no long-term sustainable solution other than a diplomatic one” to block Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, an aim Tehran denies.
But the White House envoy insisted that while engaged in the nuclear talks, the US had also been “pushing back” against Iran’s “proliferation of drones, missiles, its interference in other countries, its attacks against some of its neighbors…” This had been both through US sanctions, Malley said, and through other actions including military strikes “on at least two occasions against Iranian-affiliated militia in Syria.”
In one attack in August, the US reportedly killed six militants from a militia group it said had launched drones targeting the al-Tanf American garrison in the south-east of the country. Such actions had taken place “regardless of whether the nuclear negotiations are succeeding or not,” Malley said, “…regardless of whether there is a JCPOA or not…”
Malley insisted that US policy towards Iran was within a worldwide dimension: “The president made this clear, not just about Iran, but about our global policy, which is to put human rights and the defense of human rights back at the center of our foreign policy.”
Malley was pressed by the interviewer Miller over the limits to “transformative uses of American power.” Miller cited as lacking “much success” the US role in the ‘Arab Spring,’ the largely failed Middle East uprisings of 2010-12, Washington’s military interventions including Iraq, and its support to the “Sunni opposition” – against President Bashar al-Assad – in Syria.
“Our policy [with Iran] is not one of intervening to try to foment regime change,” Malley replied, arguing the US role had to be “very realistic” as well as “very ambitious.” He cited Washington’ removal of the threat of punitive action under US sanctions against technology and Internet companies dealing with Iran. He said there would be “more sanctions” against Iran and that the US would initiate “more steps in international forums.”