Kerry and Zarif Snubbed by Nobel Peace Prize

Despite recommendation for controversial nuclear deal, two foreign ministers get outpaced by Tunisian civil society groups.

Ari Yashar ,

John Kerry, Mohammad Javad Zarif
John Kerry, Mohammad Javad Zarif

While expectations were high that US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif would be selected for the Nobel Peace Prize after being recommended for the prize in July, their controversial nuclear deal was not selected as worthy of a peace prize.

Instead, the Nobel committee on Friday selected the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a union of civil society groups in the war-torn North African state.

In declaring the winners, the committee said the Quartet was selected "for its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011. The Quartet was formed in the summer of 2013 when the democratization process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political assassinations and widespread social unrest."

"It established an alternative, peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war. It was thus instrumental in enabling Tunisia, in the space of a few years, to establish a constitutional system of government guaranteeing fundamental rights for the entire population, irrespective of gender, political conviction or religious belief."

Kerry and Zarif's recommendation for the prize came despite a severe lack of "peace" between them. Zarif intensely shouted at Kerry to the point that his shouts could be heard throughout the ritzy Palais Coburg in Vienna where nuclear talks were held, thereby ignoring Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's instructions not to shout at Kerry that were given after a number of previous outbursts.

Among other things, Zarif angrily screamed at Kerry to "never threaten an Iranian!"

Another surprising turn of events for the Nobel Prize came when US President Barack Obama won the award in 2009 after less than a year in office, and before having taken any concrete steps in his post that would have possibly warranted the more than $1 million prize.

Geir Lundestad, former Director of the Nobel Institute for 25 years, said last month that giving Obama the award was a mistake.

As dubious as the award given to Obama just after his election was, perhaps even more controversial was the prize awarded to Yasser Arafat, the founder of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and an arch-terrorist responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis.

Arafat was given the prize together with then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after the 1993 Oslo Accords.