Middle East analyst: Iran negotiating with US would be 'political suicide'

The founder of one of the largest Iranian-American grassroots organizations in the country on Monday said that if Iran came to the negotiating table with the U.S., it would be “complete political suicide.”

Trita Parsi, who is the founder of the National Iranian American Council, argued that Trump’s move to step up economic pressure on Iran is not going to work, arguing it is in Tehran’s best interest to stand firm, even if it means risking military confrontation.

“For them, giving up and essentially capitulating to the United States is complete political suicide,” Parsi, who is also a professor at Georgetown University, told Hill.TV on “Rising.”

“They will lose all of their legitimacy if they were to do so,” he continued.

“There is no way out for them,” he said. “That’s part of the reason why it is actually much clearer incentive structure for them to stand firm, even risk a military confrontation, count on Iranian nationalism and rally around the flag rather than coming to the table and essentially have to completely cave into Trump’s demands.”

Trump is set to issue additional sanctions against Iran on Monday.

Over the weekend, the president announced that his administration would slap new sanctions on Tehran. He also doubled down on his criticism of the Obama-era nuclear pact that the U.S. previously signed with Iran, which traded sanctions relief for limited on Iran nuclear enrichment capabilities.

“Iran cannot have Nuclear Weapons! Under the terrible Obama plan, they would have been on their way to Nuclear in a short number of years, and existing verification is not acceptable. We are putting major additional Sanctions on Iran on Monday,” Trump tweeted Saturday in part.

Iran's economy has suffered greatly under the pressure from the U.S. sanctions, putting a spotlight on the country's leadership.

Trump's move comes amid mounting tensions between Washington and Tehran. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. claimed that Iran was behind an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran denied any involvement, calling the accusations “alarming.” Still, the Pentagon announced plans to send an additional 1,000 troops to the Middle East.

Tehran later responded by threatening to breach the Obama-era nuclear deal, which the U.S withdrew from in 2018, and surpass the uranium enrichment limitations first implemented under the nuclear deal.

The two sides also appeared to be moving closer to confrontation last week after Iran downed an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone. Trump had ordered retaliatory military strikes, but called off the attacks learning that as many as 150 Iranians could be killed.

— Tess Bonn