- By Robbie GramerRobbie Gramer is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. He writes for The Cable, FP’s real-time take on all things, well, foreign policy. Before he joined FP in 2016, he used to think in a tank, managing the NATO portfolio at the Atlantic Council for three years. He’s a graduate of American University’s School of International Service, where he studied international relations and European affairs. He has lived in both Washington and Brussels, though he grew up in Idaho and Oregon, so he’s a West Coaster at heart. When he’s not busy reporting, he’s probably busy starting three new books before he has finished the last one or planning a trip to a national park he hasn’t visited yet.
The United States and Iran aren’t exactly on the best of terms. They started re-mending their ties after the landmark nuclear deal in 2015. But then Donald Trump came into office. And Iran tested a ballistic missile. So the White House put Iran “on notice.”
But now Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he’s grateful to Trump, though it’s probably not for the reasons Trump would want.
Tehran had been working “for decades” to “divulge the true face” of the U.S. and the “depth of corruption” of its government and leaders, Khamenei said during a speech before Iranian military commanders. “Trump did it in a few days after coming to the White House,” he said. Khamenei cited a 5-year old Iranian detained for hours at a U.S. airport following Trump’s immigration ban as a case that “belies the American version of human rights.”
He also repeatedly referred to the United States as the “Great Devil” during the speech, according to a report from Iranian state news agency MEHR. It’s not exactly the type of tact one would’ve hoped for between two countries that just brokered a deal to halt nuclear weapon production.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a bona fide diplomatic spat these days unless it also took to Twitter:
We appreciate Trump! Because he largely did the job for us in revealing true face of America.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 7, 2017
Khamenei’s mocking positive spin can’t hide the fact that U.S.-Iran relations are reverting back to the days of hostile confrontation before the 2015 nuclear deal. It’s bad news for Iran’s foreign investment-starved economy. Oil exports doubled since sanctions lifted in January 2016, and Iran says it needs up to $50 billion in foreign investment to rebuild its isolated economy. Under Trump, all that may be on the chopping block.
But there’s another Middle Eastern autocrat jazzed up about Trump’s election. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Trump’s plan to coordinate with Russia, Syria’s top military backer, to fight the Islamic State was “promising.” Assad’s comments come a day after rights groups accused his government of killing 13,000 people in a secret prison since the Syrian conflict began in 2011.
Photo credit: BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images