Could Flynn have been good for Iran-US Relations?

By Arash Karami, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iran Business News.

The Donald Trump administration has no shortage of virulent anti-Iran hawks bent on taking a more confrontational approach toward Tehran. Few in the administration were more outspoken about their anti-Iran views than former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned Feb. 13 after misleading White House officials over his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

Flynn first caught the attention of the Iranian media for making the Feb. 1 announcement of “officially putting Iran on notice” for a missile test. With Flynn gone, Iranian media are now speculating what this means not only for the future of Iran and the United States but also for the United States and Russia, given Flynn’s relationship with Russian officials and Russia’s role in supporting Iran’s regional policies.

Conservative Mashregh website asked, “Is Flynn’s resignation in Iran’s favor?” The article stated, “Flynn’s resignation has one positive aspect, and it is that one of the figures who is famous for his animosity toward Iran has been removed from an important post.” It continued that an additional positive aspect of the departure is that Flynn wanted to turn the National Security Council into a policymaking institution rather than an advisory institution.

And given the physical proximity of Flynn to the president coupled with Trump’s aversion to reading intelligence reports — i.e., Trump would have received verbal reports directly from Flynn — “the departure of an anti-Iran official is a positive point.”

“However,” the article continued, “at a deeper level” it shows the level of anti-Russian sentiment in America’s politics and that “opening of ties between Moscow and Washington will encounter structural obstacles.”

The article concluded that these obstacles are not “necessarily in Iran’s favor because if Flynn was in a favorable environment [in the White House] — and Flynn was indeed sympathetic to Russia — Russia could have played an important role in adjusting the Trump administration’s approach to Iran.”

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