Security Dimension Missing in Nuclear Talks

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi

The next round of multilateral talks is due in Vienna next week and compared to the previous round, when the crisis in Ukraine deflected the attentions, this time it is the dangerous developments in Iraq -- that warrant a frank security dialogue.

Indeed, the time has come to link the nuclear talks with an array of broader regional issues, above all the imminent and present danger of terrorist groups causing havoc and posing a growing danger to regional stability.

In Iraq, the disturbing news of radical Jihadists' takeover of Mosul, Tikrit and a number of other Iraqi towns and cities has sent shockwaves in the international community, which must act promptly in unison to prevent Iraq's collapse in the bosom of anarchy and civil war. Even Both Russia and China have vested interests against the common threat that stems from the multi-national Jihadists.

According to the latest reports from Iraq, the Al-Qaeda affiliate Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) have made sudden and unanticipated gains vis-à-vis the Iraqi army and the momentum may be on their side, unless something is done through the collective effort of the international community to reverse it, in the absence of which Iraq may be on the verge of a 'regime change' and complete metamorphosis into a terrorist hub.

Clearly, from Iran's vantage point, this represents an unwelcome and threatening scenario, given the wealth of Iran's historical and religious ties with the neighboring Iraq, whose spiritual leader Ayatollah Sistani has condemned the Sunni terrorists and urged the Iraqis to fight for their freedom. The ISIS spokespeople have been quoted in the media regarding their sinister intentions against the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf and "settling accounts" in Baghdad, i.e., veiled threats of genocidal revenge killings. This is intolerable by Iran's standards and no one in the international community should be surprised if Iran sets aside its hesitations and throws its weight behind the embattled Iraqi army to fight back and regain the control of territory lost in the hands of the ISIS terrorists.

Should Iran make the determination that inaction is not an option and immediate direct response is called for, it is highly important that the noble Iranian intention is not somehow misconstrued and the international community fully supports Iran for shouldering a responsibility that is in line with the global need to fight terror and maintain regional stability.         

With respect to US-Iran relations, the situation in Iraq calls for the resumption of bilateral security dialogue that transpired six years ago in Baghdad without any meaningful follow-up, in addition to the inclusion of this subject on the agenda of the Geneva rounds as stated above.  

Indeed, with Washington and Tehran backing the same political horses in Iraq over the past decade, time has come to engage in a new security dialogue, which can clarify the respective goals and objectives of each party with respect to the present dangers to the regional stability. In the absence of any quick-fix for what appears to be an endemic problem of foreign-backed terrorism in Iraq, the US and other Western governments must exert pressure on the governments in the region suspected of bankrolling the ISIS terrorists. President Obama in response to the Iraq crisis has stated that this serves as a "wake-up call" to the Middle East countries, but above all it should serve as a wake-up call to Washington that its callous indifference to the real sources of support for the terrorists in Iraq and Syria is a cause of the present crisis, which must be remedied immediately by taking appropriate policy adjustments that serve notice on those governments that are themselves threatened by those terrorists and, yet, continue their self-defeating policy of supporting the radical Jihadists. 

*Kaveh Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of several books on Iran’s foreign policy. His writings have appeared on several online and print publications, including UN Chronicle, New York Times, Der Tagesspiegel, Middle East Journal, Harvard International Review, and Brown's Journal of World Affairs, Guardian, Russia Today, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Mediterranean Affairs, Nation, Telos, Der Tageszeit, Hamdard Islamicus, Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Global Dialogue.

Key Words: Nuclear Talks, Security Dimension, Radical Jihadists, Iraq, ISIS, Sunni Terrorists, US-Iran Relations, Afrasiabi

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*Photo Credit: Jame Jam Online

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