Will Trump turn Rouhani into Hawk?

“The Iranian public will not stand for being insulted and its government’s keeping silent on this, or at least not responding with the same power,” a Principlist former member of parliament told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Unfortunately, our nation is paying the price for our government’s wrong bets, for the concessions we gave to the Americans during the nuclear deal.

Mr. Rouhani and his team trusted the US government and thought that [former US President Barack] Obama’s smiles and [former US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s promises were strategic deals that we could give up our rights for [in exchange].”

The Principlist added, “If only he [Rouhani] and his team had adhered to the red lines set by the [supreme] leader, things would have been different today.” The former legislator concluded, “There are four years [ahead] to live with Trump. He is going to threaten Iran day after day. The nuclear deal is almost dead. Iran is not weak; our influence and power in the region is growing day after day. We need a president who can preserve our dignity and defend our integrity.”

However, there are different shades of meaning when it comes to dignity and integrity, particularly in terms of foreign policy. While one camp views confrontation with the United States as the best manifestation of Iranian independence and resistance — particularly when the United States has a hard-line administration — there is another camp that believes Iran should always seize opportunities to prove to the world that the Islamic Republic is not the party stoking the conflict.

For Rouhani to solve his dilemma, he likely must find a balanced mix of these two understandings of dignity and integrity.

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