Iran and US Striving toward Common Understanding

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nosratollah Tajik, Iran’s Former Ambassador to Jordan

Since a long time ago, Iran and the United States have been addressing each other through high-ranking political and state officials with each side recommending the other side to take a difficult decision. However, in my opinion and in view of the ongoing global developments, the “difficult decision” is codename for a boat drifting in the choppy seas of the Middle East, and Iran and the United States should be courageous and responsible enough to ride it. After riding it, they should continue sailing that boat in a joint effort as long as stability and peace has not been restored to the restive Middle East region, and join hands to do away with all existing grounds for misunderstanding and distrust toward each other. In another article on the issue of “extradition,” I wrote that governments should try to solve their problems through cooperation so that the consequences and adverse effects of such problems do not harm the weakest link in the political chain, that is, their citizens. I mean, both countries should make a tough decision, so that not only the future generations of the two countries, but future nations in the region will experience a comfortable life. The present generation has spent most of its life in an atmosphere of misunderstanding, whose psychological roots should be sought in the vanity of a superpower. On the other hand and from a political viewpoint, that misunderstanding was rooted in efforts made by a single country to regulate international relations according to its own whims and enforce its country’s norms, or the norms accepted by a bloc of its allied states, on other countries of the world. Of course methods used and policies adopted by nascent governments of Iran have not been totally free of fault and problem. However, politics and governance have become gradually more mature in Iran as time went by. The future generations, therefore, should not have to pay a repeated cost for something whose cost has been already paid by their fathers.

Despite all these facts, I believe that Iran and the West have gotten their positions closer to each other through negotiations in the past eight months. However, they are still far from a common understanding of each other. As a result and due to the following three reasons, they have so far failed to reach a final agreement: 1. There is a large gap between the two sides’ red lines and filling that large gap seems almost impossible now; 2. Iran is ready to reach an understanding with the West, but the Western countries are misinterpreting Iran's readiness to reach such an agreement; and 3. The United States and Iran are striving to reach understanding in two different fields. For Iran, which attaches the highest significance to the “present time” and is sparing no effort to reduce the impact of international sanctions on its people and economic prosperity of the country, this comes as a blessing and nothing else can be expected from a government whose priority is its own people. The United States, on the other hand, thinks in terms of “future,” and is focused on the possible effects of any agreement with Iran, whether those effects are positive or negative, because if those effects get out of hand, Washington will not be able to control and manage them. In more simple terms, the United States looks upon sanctions as an effective weapon against Iran. Therefore, if Iran and the West reach a final agreement even in the long run, the United States will lose the main tool it can use to mount pressure on Iran.

I have frequently written that the nuclear issue is not the main problem between Iran and the West. The main problem, however, is the orientation of Iran's foreign policy, especially its approach to the Middle East, which has prompted the United States to unrightfully securitize Iran's foreign policy. The Islamic Republic, like any independent state, has interests both in the region and other parts of the world. Therefore, in order to defend its territorial integrity under the present tumultuous conditions of the world and after going through an eight-year war [with its western neighbor, Iraq], the country needs to create special leverages in its foreign policy. This issue is among the most primary rights of all nation-states within the new international order.

During the past months, a tough, useful, realistic and relevant effort has been made to create needed ground for common understanding of all issues that have further complicated Iran's relations with the West. However, what I understand from the general news coverage by Iranian media and certain news stories covered by the Western outlets is that Iran and the United States have come up with a formula to carry the negotiations to final success or, at least, prevent failure of talks between Iran and the United States. However, for reasons that are still largely unknown but can have economic roots, European countries, headed by France, have not only shown no interest in that formula, but are also very suspicious about the intentions of the United States. This formula can be characterized by two features: 1. Even if negotiations between Iran and the United States have been largely focused on the nuclear issue without any discussion of bilateral ties or regional developments, which in my opinion is very unlikely, yet they have practically gone beyond the nuclear issue and have been exploring more areas than simply technical issues related to Iran's nuclear energy program; 2. In their past interactions, the two countries put the highest emphasis on their own understanding of the world’s political developments and expected each other to act within framework of the other side’s understanding. Even during the course of the main negotiations or in secondary talks held on their sidelines, they have never tried to first achieve a common understanding of developments in the world and the region, and discuss the best way for facing the ongoing trends before making that common understanding a basis for their direct and unmediated negotiations and interactions. It seems, however, that this is happening right now and both sides should accept that they have a bumpy road ahead of them and they are still at the beginning of that road. Such a development can, at least, prevent regional problems from becoming worse and in later stages, it can even help them to reduce those problems. Iran should take a responsible approach to those developments that influence the world order. The United States, on the other side, should take a positive and constructive approach away from suspicion to Iran's needs, viewpoints and foreign policy expectations and show more respect for the country’s regional standing. In this way, Washington would pave the way for Tehran to achieve the position that it rightfully deserves within the international political system.

Key Words: Iran, US, Common Understanding, Middle East, Nuclear Issue, Tajik

Source: Shargh Daily
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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