FOR PEACE IN REGION, U.S. MUST NEGOTIATE WITH IRAN
I have written a piece with Dariush Zahedi, political economy professor at UC Berkeley on the current situation in Lebanon and rule of Iran in this crisis in IPS (Inter Press Service News Agency). IPS doesn’t publish the whole analysis and just newspapers around the world can use it. I put some of the paragraphs here which is not published anywhere else:
"Hezbollah’s provocation combined with Iran’s intransigence on its nuclear program has increased the influence of Iran hawks in the Bush Administration. They have labeled Iran as a primary cause behind instability in the Middle East, and have embarked on a policy of further isolating, weakening, penalizing, and humiliating the Islamic Republic.
These policies, designed to set the stage for an eventual regime change in Iran, are predicated on a number of presumptions. Above all is the notion that not only is it possible to cut off the “long arm of Iran” by crippling Hezbollah, but that doing so will have a salutary impact on the stabilization of Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Territories. It further assumes that Iran is ripe for making a transition to democracy, viewed as ultimately the best means of dealing with the nation’s quest for nuclear capability.
The administration has attempted to persuade America’s Arab allies to wean Syria, Tehran’s closest ally, from Iran. The imposition of UN sanctions, meant to enfeeble Iran, have also been advocated. Bush officials expect that a degradation of the power
of Hezbollah will be a further devastating blow to the prestige and strategic capability of Iran.
Israel may have degraded the retaliatory capability of Hezbollah and thereby weakened Iran’s ability to use Hezbollah to deter American strikes against its nuclear installations.
At the same time, however, the annihilation of Lebanon’s infrastructure,
particularly in the south where most of the Shiites reside, has laid the
foundation for both Iran and Hezbollah to consolidate their ties while endearing
themselves further to the Shiites. Poised to reap more than $70 billion
form the sale of its oil, Iran will more than happy to shower Hezbollah with the
money it needs for the reconstruction of Lebanon. It will also exploit any
opportunity to replenish Hezbollah’s arsenal."