July 9, 2015 | Quoted by Brett Logiurato - Business Insider

Obama is Making a Huge Bet — and His Biggest Foreign-Policy Experiment is at Stake

US President Barack Obama hopes Iran's future belongs to people like Hafez Safaee.

Safaee, a 21-year-old, recently opened up a coffee shop in Tehran.

He “wants to bring people together through coffee,” revitalizing a culture that purveyed when Iran engaged in more trade with other countries, according to The Wall Street Journal.

People like Safaee are the crux of the biggest bet of Obama's presidency, one that could define his legacy, as the US and its international partners move toward securing a deal to curb Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

But critics of the emerging deal point to a red flag in that bet: the likely chance that Iran will take billions of dollars in sanctions relief and dump it into further meddling in the Middle East.


“To permit the Iranian regime over time to have a nuclear-weapons threshold capability with zero breakout before the IAEA certifies this program as peaceful, the Obama administration has to assume that time and money will transform the regime from a terrorism-supporting, human-rights-abusing, regionally aggressive regime to a more moderate and responsible one,” Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider.

“Otherwise, no one would give these hard men of Iran this deal.”


Any moderation in Iran would most likely have to come from a change in leadership. But if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei dies or steps down, all signs point to his replacement being just as much, if not more, of a hardliner.

Iran's constitution stipulates that the country's supreme leader is selected by the Assembly of Experts, a body comprising 86 elected religious leaders. In March, the Assembly of Experts elected the conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi to lead the body.

“It is difficult to prophesy the outcome of Iran's current power struggle,” analyst Ali Alfoneh wrote in a policy brief for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “But given the likely candidates to lead the country, one scenario may be safely ruled out: that Khamenei's eventual demise will usher in a moderate Islamic Republic at peace with the world.”

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