US: Iran nuclear talks progress, despite Iranian Foreign Minister’s cancelled visit to Vienna

The US and Iran have been holding indirect talks, along with the other signatories to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, in Vienna. (Photo: AFP)
The US and Iran have been holding indirect talks, along with the other signatories to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, in Vienna. (Photo: AFP)

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Tehran announced on Saturday that Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Zarif would not be traveling, as planned, to Austria, where the US and Iran have been holding indirect talks, along with the other signatories to the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal.

In 2018, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement, and it is a high priority of the Biden administration to restore it.

In addition to seeing his Austrian counterpart, Zarif was to meet with representatives from China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK—the five other signatories to the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), who are acting as intermediaries between the US and Iranian delegations in Vienna.

On Friday, the Austrian government flew the Israeli flag from official offices in solidarity with Israel, which has been under intense rocket fire from Hamas since May 10.

Zarif cancelled his visit in protest, while Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, who leads Tehran’s delegation to the nuclear talks, tweeted, “Shocking & painful to see flag of the occupying regime, that brutally killed tens of innocent civilian, including many children in just few days, over government offices in Vienna.”

Nonetheless, in the view of the US State Department, the talks are proceeding in a satisfactory way.

“Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley and the accompanying US delegation remain in Vienna, where talks concerning a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA continue,” a State Department spokesperson told Kurdistan 24.

“Some progress has been made, and the talks continue at a pace appropriate to address the significance of the issues being negotiated,” the spokesperson added.

With the onset of the Gaza war, the administration’s goal of restoring the JCPOA has become even more controversial. Tehran has given substantial support to Hamas’ rocket program, and Republican senators have responded to the renewed hostilities by calling on the White House to abandon that effort, arguing it will only provide Iran with large sums of money to support its proxies and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East.

Read More: Republicans, Biden administration clash over Iran’s role in Hamas attacks on Israel

Haj Amin al-Husayni, Rashid al-Gaylani, and the Nazis

Under Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Austria has adopted a much friendlier posture toward Israel than it has traditionally held. Part of that shift is driven by Kurz’s views himself, but it is also consistent with a longer-term Austrian effort to come to terms with, and make amends for, its Nazi past.

During World War II, key Arab figures, including the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husayni, embraced the Nazis, who took power in Germany in 1993 and then in Austria in 1938.

In 1939, Husayni went to Iraq, where he helped spur a military coup which, in April 1941, installed a pro-Nazi regime, headed by Rashid al-Gaylani, an ardent Arab nationalist.

Britain responded quickly, ousting Gaylani in May. Husayni and Gaylani then fled to Iran, where the Shah had declared himself neutral in the global conflict. However, he sympathized openly with Germany. The possibility of Iran’s joining with Berlin could not be discounted.

Britain and the Soviet Union decided to pre-empt. They occupied Iran, and in September, forced the Shah’s abdication.

So Husayni and Gaylani fled again, ultimately to Germany, which recognized Gaylani as the head of an Iraqi government in exile. Husayni became a broadcaster for Nazi propaganda.

In November 1941, Husayni met with Hitler. According to the official German record of their meeting, he flattered Hitler, assuring him of success, while seeking German support against French and British rule in the territory he aspired to govern: from the Mediterranean to Iraq’s border with Iran.

“Of Germany’s victory the Arab world was firmly convinced, not only because the Reich possessed a large army, brave soldiers and military leaders of genius, but also because the Almighty could never award the victory to an unjust cause,” Husayni told Hitler.

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, meeting with Adolf Hitler in 1941. (Photo: Heinrich Hoffmann, CC BY-SA)
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, meets with Adolf Hitler in 1941. (Photo: Heinrich Hoffmann, CC BY-SA)

“The Arabs were striving for the independence and unity of Palestine, Syria and Iraq,” he continued. “They had the fullest confidence in the Fuhrer and looked to his hand for the balm on their wounds, which had been inflicted upon them by the enemies of Germany,” which he identified as “the English, the Jews and the Communists.”

Hitler affirmed his hostility to the Jews, but was unwilling to act then against France and Britain in the Middle East, because his highest priority was to press a second front against the Soviet Union.

“Germany stood for uncompromising war against the Jews,” Hitler told the Mufti. That “included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests.”

However, “Germany was at the present time engaged in a life and death struggle with two citadels of Jewish power: Great Britain and Soviet Russia,” he continued. Afterwards, he would “give the Arab world the assurance that its hour of liberation had arrived” and “Germany’s objective” would be “the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power.”

“The Mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world,” Hitler said, and it would be “his task to set off the Arab operations, which he had secretly prepared.”

Following Germany’s defeat, Husayni ended up in Egypt, where he continued to play a significant role in Arab politics.

In 1947, the United Nations announced a partition plan for mandatory Palestine. Although Israel accepted it, the Arabs rejected it. Husayni encouraged the Arab assault that followed Israel’s declaration of independence some 73 years ago: on May 14, 1948.

Egypt and Syria both lost that war. They could not even maintain the territory allotted to the Palestinians in the partition plan, and both governments were soon overthrown in military coups. Husayni lapsed into irrelevance, replaced by others, and he died in Beirut in 1974.

Editing by John J. Catherine