Omid Memarian

Sunday, November 19, 2006

What could be accomplished in talks with Iran and Syria?

Just a few weeks after the failure of republicans in Senate and Congress, the US is going to involve Iran in the Middle East peace process, especially after the escalation of the micro-tribal conflict in Iraq and the no war no peace situation in Lebanon. The United States accuses Iran for, so called, its involvement in most of the terrible terrorist attacks in the region, playing a role as a source for fundamentalism and a major factor to destabilize Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine-Israel conflict. So, how can they sit behind the negotiation table and talk about the common benefits?

What is the major point that has made the Iran’s new conservative government so harsh and extremely untouchable? Islamic Republic’s ranking authorities believe that the US will attack Iran someday and will try to overthrow the Islamic regime. There are many evidences behind this theory. They remember how the United States supported Saddam Hussein, shot the civilian airplane at the end of the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), put sanction on Iran and, more than the others, how they support the Iranian opposition all around the world. There are many other issues in between too. Iran's religious government has been a source of supporting Shiite fundamentalism in the region since the 1979 revolution. Americans, also, remember the humiliation of hostage crisis in 1980 which destroyed the empire portrait of the country. There remember how Iranians are back of the Hezbollah and Hamas and many other groups from Afghanistan to Sudan, either officially or unofficially, while Iran denies any involvement.

Iran says that it is possible to solve the security crisis in Iraq by its helps. At the time Shiites are in power and most of the insurgency is led by Sunnis, a part of Iraqis who have lost power after the collapse of Saddam Hussein. Iran knows clearly that instability of Iraq is a huge problem for its national security while the Arab ethnics in southern Iran have turned to be a dilemma recently for the central government. Needless to say that Turkish people in Azerbaijan provinces have gotten frustrated by the government's regional policies and Kurds look at Iraq's changes very carefully. So obviously they don’t want to destabilize Iraq. Who knows that how they can do something for the security now. At the time the situation there is over any control.
Iran really wants to talk. But it is not just Iran. Iran is looking for negotiation with the US during the last decade. But they don’t want to have the lower hand. In Khatami’s period, his paradigm was based on the so called “dialogue among civilization model” at least in foreign policy decision making. He tried to approach the Americans in a smooth way. However it didn’t bring any differences while neither Washington nor different fraction of power in Tehran were ready to respond positively. Now, Ahmadinejad believes strongly that the only way to bring the US to the negotiation table is to have the upper hand and force the US to negotiate. To some extent his policy is coming true. The use has believed that it can not live in the Middle East by ignoring the rule of Iran.

But, does the US try to approach Iran by negotiating on its different concern? Or this is just the game to say that the current government in Iran is really dangerous and doesn’t want to support the peace efforts and bring security to the region. Can the US officials imagine sitting beside the Iranians and talking about the security arrangement in the region? Can they forget all the things that are in between? Or because of their estimation about the Iranian society they if they approach Iran, it is possible that the Iranian people force the government to change in a smooth and colorful way like the Ukraine and or Georgia in 2003. Consider that many conservatives in Iran believe that the NO-Peace No-War situation is the best thing for them.

They use the enmity of with the US as a force to dominate their agenda. If they loose it they will loose many things. Something I will talk about it in another comment. Still the question is alive…What will be the achievements of this negotiation? A big deal?


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