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Satire | The Nuclear Standoff: How to Negotiate with Iran


15 Apr 2012 00:48Comments

Cry, start yelling, act offended...praise God.

Setareh Sabety is a writer based in Nice, France.
[ satire ] Everybody and their mother is writing "how to" pieces about negotiating with Iran. After much grandstanding and stalling, leading to threats and sanctions, Iran sent a delegation to Istanbul to resume talks with the P5+1 group of nations. For those of us who have been following Iranian politics, the dispute over uranium enrichment and the other aspects of the state's nuclear program seems repetitive and neverending. Back in 2005, I wrote about it and really not much has changed despite all that's happened, including the "widely believed to be" rigged elections in 2009 and the subsequent uprising that was effectively crushed by the regime.

Anyway, here's my little contribution to the "how to negotiate with Iran" oeuvre. When dealing with Iranians, always keep the following tactics in mind:

1. Dast bala begeer -- this literally means to take the "upper hand" in an argument. In Iran, by the time you are in first grade you know how to do this. If you think you have hurt or otherwise mistreated the other party, make sure you act the victim to avoid being accused of being the one in the wrong. So if you have not called a friend in a long time, when they call you, immediately act hurt and ask, "Why have you not called in such a long time?! I thought you had forgotten me!"

2. If you are losing an argument, cry, start yelling, act offended, and walk out. The bigger the scene you make, the better the odds that the other party will try to calm you down and start the discussion again.

3. If you want to buy something, start by putting it down. Then offer a sum no higher than a third of what was asked; eventually, come up to a half. If there is no agreement, act offended and walk out -- nine times out of ten, the seller will come after you. You have to do this, because the other person, knowing that you will start at a third of whatever the price is, jacked it up beforehand accordingly.

4. If you achieve your goals in the negotiation, act like it was the other's benevolence and far-sightedness that brought about the desired result. If it's hard for you to hand over all the credit, then act like God's grace had something to do with it. That keeps your adversary from losing face and feeling like he gave in to you out of weakness. Say something like, "Thank God, He gave you such a kind soul. I shall never forget your magnanimity."

5. If you want to break a deal, place the blame on some higher authority. We have what we call estekhareh, which is used in bazaari and clerical circles as a way to say no without offending the other party or making him lose face. Estekhareh is when you consult the Qur'an for an answer to an everyday question -- the verses are always vague enough that you can always find whatever meaning you desire in them. So, if you are turning down a deal or changing your mind about anything, just say, "I did an estekhareh and it is not meant to be [sala'ah nist]." If you don't want to go down the superstitious route, then blame it on your husband or father or some other elder authority figure. If you are a man, don't use your wife as an excuse -- that is a sign of weakness, unless she is suffering from some grave illness.

6. Use dreams as negotiating tools. You can say you had a dream in which some heavenly entity told you not to do something. Dreams are often used by women as a way of getting or backing out of things. I have seen some prominent men take advantage of them as well. In the nuclear negotiations, for example, the American representative could say that President Obama had a dream that Tel Aviv was burning and that Tehran had become a gaping hole and Imam Reza (the beloved Eighth Imam of the Shiites) came in his cloak and turban and urged him to reach peace with Iran: "You are brother-children of God, stop the fighting."

by the same author | Islamist Fictions, Leftist Fashions, and the Embassy Invasion | Let's Not Let Them Get Away with It | 40 Days Ago We Died | No Revolution

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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