As Energy Crisis Escalates, US Tries To Woo Iran But Will Tehran Join In Isolating Russia?
Fuel prices have gone through the roof in the US since Joe Biden decided to ban all energy imports from Russia. In a bid to stabilise the market, Washington has approached a number of suppliers, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.
It has also tried to build bridges with Tehran by making concessions in nuclear talks.
Since the beginning of Russia's military operation in Ukraine on 24 February, Iran has been standing by the side
Holding the US Responsible
No condemnation has been issued: Iran has repeatedly called for an end to the crisis through diplomatic means, and has pointed the finger of blame at the US for instigating the crisis.
"Iran recognises that the war was provoked by the US," says Prof Mohammad Marandi, a lecturer at the University of Tehran and a political analyst.
"They did it through breaking their promises to Russia not to expand NATO's presence eastwards. They did it through the Ukrainian coup of 2014 [after which radical forces came to power - ed] and through arming neo-Nazi extremists and allowing them to kill Russians in the Donbass region," he added.
It was this understanding that stopped Tehran from joining a United Nations General Assembly resolution that condemned Russia. And it was because of this realisation that Iran refused to back anti-Moscow western sanctions designed to destroy the Russian economy.
But Iran's refusal doesn't mean that Washington will stop trying to isolate Moscow. After its decision to ban all energy imports from Russia - which supplies some 8 percent of America's total needs - fuel prices in the US have gone through the roof.
To stabilise the situation, the White House has tried to approach its traditional allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to encourage them to pump more oil. But those calls have gone unanswered.
Further to that, American officials have approached Venezuela
but when Caracas indicated that it had no intention to participate in the isolation of Moscow, attempts were made to woo the Iranians.
Until recently, the international press was packed with reports
about an almost signed nuclear deal between Iran and the West. The general feeling was that the Islamic Republic was getting many western concessions, much more than it had originally hoped for.
According to those reports, not only were most of the western sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration in 2018 lifted from Iran, it managed to convince the US to unfreeze its assets, exchange prisoners and even disconnect, rather than dismantle, the cascades of advanced centrifuges at three sites in Iran, as a guarantee that Washington would not pull out from the deal again.
Marandi, who serves as a media adviser to Iran's negotiations team in Austria's capital, Vienna, acknowledged that there have been concessions but he also stressed that there are still a number of disagreements
that need to be resolved before the agreement is inked.
One such is the refusal of the Americans to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from their list of terrorist organisations. Another is their reluctance to lift sanctions off all companies, businesses and individuals.
"Our problems with the US haven't been fully resolved," explained Marandi, indicating that the talks in Vienna have stalled. "And now we have the US-Russia conflict affecting those talks too."
Moscow is worried that an agreement between the West and Iran would limit Tehran's ability to trade or have any nuclear dealings with the Kremlin. But Marandi says Russia has nothing to fear.
"Of course, Iran is in a very strong position because all parties involved need Tehran ... but Iran won't cooperate in the isolation of Russia, as we consider both sides to be responsible for the conflict".