US Changing Political Stance on Iran

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Exclusive Interview with Mohammad Farhad Koleini
By: Mohammad Ibrahim Taraghinejad

A repetitive report with the same repetitive claims. On Thursday, June 2nd 2016, the US State Department released its annual Country Report on Terrorism a large part of which had been allocated to Iran and in which the US State Department had reiterated its past claims on the Islamic Republic. Iran’s support for the resistance axis as well as other regional activities of Tehran constituted the main basis of this report. The report, of course, elicited Iranian Foreign Ministry’s harsh response with Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, noting that in order to prove its honesty in fighting terrorism, the United States should stop issuing fictional reports of this sort, and replace its political and selective handling of terrorism with serious and all-out confrontation with real instances of support for and expansion of terrorism in the region and the world. In the following interview, Mohammad Farhad Koleini, a senior analyst of strategic issues, discusses the US State Department’s latest annual report on terrorism.

Q: The United States has claimed that Iran is the most important backer of terrorism in the world. To what extent this approach is at odds with the United States’ approach in negotiations, which led to Iran’s nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)?

A: The repetitive and non-legal claim by officials at the U.S. State Department is more indicative of some sort of change in course. During recent years, Iran has been involved in the fight against terrorism in the region with the United States witnessing this both in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, everybody knows the true supporters of terrorism in the region and knows about their records as well. This report lacks both legal and moral value. Some people considered it possible in the past that when it comes to test of diplomacy, Americans would change their course from confrontation with Iran, but this report will not help improve global understanding of relations between Iran and the United States in any way and will intensify distrust between the two sides. This comes at a time that this course is at odds with the need for the United States to change its positions with regards to the Middle East. Instead of helping better and more accurate understanding of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s position in the region and international system, such reports are practically in line with demonization efforts undertaken by the United States’ diplomatic apparatus in the global environment.

Q: To what extent Iran’s regional activities and allegations about Tehran’s support for terrorism can be considered as an alternative for Americans’ Iranophobia project following the resolution of Iran’s nuclear issue?

A: This issue was predictable beforehand, but with regard to the JCPOA, as the world and even European allies of the United States have witnessed, this country lacks necessary commitment to its obligations as a result of which the “American verification” is facing a challenge and this is against achieving common understanding. In other words, the verification of the United States’ positions, which was expected during negotiations, has now caused the United States to change is political stance. Such reports do not encourage interaction and only add to the existing distrust between the two countries. It is them who are losing time and it is apparently very difficult for some people in the United States to understand this.

Q: To what extent, the claim about Iran being the biggest supporter of terrorism can be used as a basis for imposing new sanctions against Iran?

A: The United States does not need more excuse to impose sanctions over any issue and pretext, because it tries to show its unilateral behavior in the international system. A few days ago, Mrs. Hillary Clinton said in response to the Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, that the United States is an unrivaled power and other global powers should understand this. The United States does not favor multilateralism and continues to look upon Iran’s issue as a tool. This, per se, is a strategic test within framework of cooperation among international powers, and big powers should analyze this shift in position through a strategic approach. It seems that American institutions should make serious revision in the way they interact with and approach various issues, because they are only inflicting more costs on the country’s leaders. They lack a horizontal analysis of what may happen in the future.

Q: To what extent this issue can further scare foreign banks and major European investors from investing in and having exchanges with Iran?

A: What is expected more than anything else not only by Iran, but by the entire world, is a change in the United States’ positions on regional issues. Through the type of interaction that it follows, the United States is trying to create some kind of balance among various issues in order to further fan the flames of Iranophobia through projection. This effort, however, will not succeed, because European countries and important countries in the world’s economic system are trying to create better and more diverse opportunities to cooperate with Iran. In any one of these courses of action, any one of these countries pursues different goals and it seems that European countries are pursuing more serious positions. If we want a regional economic infrastructure be created for future cooperation, all countries need to have a wider understanding of their relations. Of course, China and Russia have already indicated their willingness to engage in strategic cooperation with Iran. Among European countries we have seen three types of different approaches. Some European states like Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Austria as well as some younger European countries and Germany seek more expanded and wider cooperation with Iran. Some European countries have taken a slower course compared to the first group of countries, examples of which are France, followed by the Netherlands, and even Britain. The third group includes mostly North European states, which are expected to behave in a more orderly manner following a recent visit by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to these countries. They seek more and stronger cooperation with Iran in the fields of banking, finance, and industry. On the whole, European countries, which have been engaged in consultations with Iran in the past, must “make their share in cooperation with Iran clearer” than the past in any talks with the United States. It was already alleged that the United States has set a ceiling for their cooperation with Iran and has promised that there would be no more pressure on them. However, the US Treasury Department has been trying to boost the credit and power of dollar through mounting pressure on Iran and it seems that their pressure on Iran has been more aimed at “controlling rival currencies and euro” instead of being actually aimed at Iran. Therefore, it is necessary for European countries to show a more serious reaction to these restrictions. When it comes to the trans-Atlantic trade, we have been witnessing this issue, and they have taken steps by giving a clearer response. On the whole, putting pressure on the United States is nothing new and falls within framework of the necessity for more cooperation.

Q: To what extent claims about Iran supporting Hezbollah and Bashar Assad’s government are aimed at undermining the role and position of Iran in Syria?

A: Both the current and the next US administrations must understand that Iran will not leave its regional allies alone and will not give up on its main policies. They must also understand that Iran seeks more stability and strategic partnership in the region and is opposed to reducing cooperation and depth of its traditional relations with the resistance front, which is valiantly fighting against terrorism. On the other hand, geopolitical developments in the region and new security requirements in the Americans’ viewpoint cannot be reconciled with the traditional viewpoint. Clichéd slogans and positions do not make the future. For realist strategists in the United States, correct steering of the country’s positions is a serious necessity, because otherwise, professional actors will take them away from the truth.

Q: To what extent claims about Iran supporting terrorism can affect the viewpoint of Islamic and regional countries about Iran?

A: When we talk about regional countries and Islamic countries, we must make a differentiation among their governments, nations and elites. Some obstructionist governments in the region are under pressure from their public opinion. Muslim people in the region also understand that divisive behaviors lack any value. A fair poll would reveal that Iran’s policy to promote interaction and stability is gaining more support on a daily basis. Those governments, which have been put on the blacklist of the United Nations, are aware of this and the UN is so aware of this issue, which cannot remain too silent on such issues.

Q: In an interview with the Atlantic magazine, US President Barack Obama urged management of regional issues through cooperation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. To what extent the recent measure by the US State Department is at odds with the remarks made by this country’s president?

A: I believe that the viewpoint held by Obama and some of his aides about the possibility of change in Iran’s relations with the United States can be taken differently, but what is important in this regard is the final step taken by the US administration. The US administration has been trying through its viewpoints and through measures it has taken and also through its requests from and correspondence with Iran to make changes in relations between Tehran and Washington. However, even these limited efforts have been rendered useless through their conflicting positions and behaviors, which do not follow a logical order. The potential for change within the US administration, more than anything else, should be focused on their viewpoint and behaviors and this has nothing to do with the country’s presidential elections. As long as influential institutions in this country have not adapted themselves to the reality, this issue will be repeated. On the one hand, they ask for help, while on the other hand, accuse Iran of supporting terrorism. The professional part of the US government does not correctly understand strategic cautions. As of now, some people are trying to orient America’s new doctrine, which is still in the offing, in an undesirable direction. They know that the United States has lost its leadership role in the region, but cannot assess its consequences correctly. They don’t see the necessity of having a strategic logic in a continuous and consolidated manner. Iran is an island of stability and the United States’ forced retreat through such superficial behaviors will not have good consequences. The necessity to redefine the region should be pursued through good focus and suitable understanding of Iran. The “power and security inertia” is very high in this region. If a serious and dominant view manages to rectify behaviors both in public spaces and in the field of economy, then production of new capacities can be taken into consideration. Today, many economists and geopolitical experts are talking about the necessity of offering an economic model for the geopolitical conditions of the region and we know that they know that this model cannot be formulated in the absence of Iran. Therefore, I emphasize that constructive behavior is requisite for the emergence of a suitable understanding of the region.

Key WordsUS, Political Stance, Iran, State Department, Report on Terrorism, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Syria, Iraq, Demonization, Iranophobia, New Sanctions, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Foreign Banks, Europe, Investors, Hezbollah, Bashar Assad, Islamic Countries, Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia, Koleini

Source: Etemad Newspaper
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Mohammad Farhad Koleini:

*Continuation of Sanctions Deprives US from Interaction with Iran:

*Iran Needs Smart Approaches in Face of Regional Developments:

*US Congress Seeks Strategic Sanctions against Iran to Derail Nuclear Talks:

*Photo Credit:  REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

*Link for Further Reading: 

*United States’ Acts of Terror Across the World during Past 100 Years

*Iranian Sponsorship of Terrorism?

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