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US Policies Become Increasingly More Unpredictable

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Interview with Mohammad Farhad Koleini
Senior Analyst of International Strategic Issues

During past few weeks, political developments in region, especially the ongoing crisis in Iraq, have hit the headlines in all domestic and foreign media. In the meantime, the policies announced and pursued by foreign players in the region, especially after a combination of former Baathist forces and terrorists of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) ran over Iraq, have shed more light on conflicts in the West’s policies and double standards applied to these issues, particularly by the United States. In the following interview with Mohammad Farhad Koleini, an analyst of regional strategic issues, he has given us his viewpoints on the recent developments and real intensions of the West, in general, and the United States, in particular. The full text of the interview follows.

Q: Accelerated developments in Iraq and measures taken by the terrorist ISIL group have drawn the attention of the region and the entire world to Iraq. During the past week, the United States also offered Iran with a proposal to negotiate about the situation in Iraq. What is your opinion about the United States’ new tactic?

A: Everybody remembers that before the US officials offered their new proposal and during a meeting between the US Secretary of State [John Kerry] and the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, they reached an agreement not to hold any negotiations with Iran over the situation in Iraq. At that juncture, they apparently believed that by raising the issue of negotiations with Iran over Iraq during nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic, the United States would show that it needs Iran and this, they thought, would change the balance of the nuclear negotiations in favor of Iran.

The idea of Iran-US talks over Iraq was put forth by some Western media and was also implied by the US President [Barack Obama], and led to differences of opinion among the American statesmen. Some Republican politicians and other people related to the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lobby as well as certain countries in the region did their best to block that proposal. However, this was not the entire story because behind the scenes, some elements in the United States were willing for Iran to get engaged in Shia-Sunni conflict in a military way. In doing so, they were trying to change Iran's policy, which revolves around supporting the territorial integrity of Iraq and establishment of stability in that country, and drag the country into sectarian and ethnic games.

Iran basically makes a distinction between Takfiri extremism and constructive interaction with Sunni Muslims and, thus, does not make way for those who foment violence in the region to achieve their final and hidden goals. Therefore, there are questions about the United States’ proposal since Washington has not yet adopted a clear policy on the situation in Iraq yet.

Of course, the intelligence and security services of the United States are well aware of the origins of instability, and even the US regional command (SATCOM) is totally abreast of all the details but the US foreign policy apparatus is still playing double games in the region. The application of such double standards proves that the United States is not taking a constructive approach to developments in the Middle East. It would suffice to take note of official statements in this regard. These statements clearly mention terrorism in words, but when it comes to mainstream media focus on terrorism, the ISIL group is described as a jihadist group.

Q: In your opinion, what is the dominant viewpoint of the United States as well as regional and European countries about the course of new developments in Iraq?

A: Some regional countries are really concerned about possible reduction of tension between Iran and the West and are interested in increasing tension in order to practically interfere with the process of “test of wills” between Iran and the West. Continuation of the political game in accordance with past coordinates is no more effective. On the other hand, the traditional influence of certain Western countries in the Middle East should not be forgotten. The general course of the ongoing developments and their combination with new developments has prompted some European countries to change the rules of their game in the region. As a result, no complete overlap of interests is seen between some European countries and the United States.

Of course, such overlap has existed in tactic and in limited fields during the past two decades and can be still observed. However, it should not be taken as a uniform European policy. Just in the same way the there are differences among member states of the European Union within the Union, their approaches to the Middle East are also not completely in agreement.

At present, Britain is concerned about the unilateral approach that the US government takes in certain cases. Of course, both countries are apparently trying to prevent their differences from being noticed by other Western allies and this issue is not limited to the status quo.

It seems, however, that they are unanimous about making other countries pay the bill for the violence. For this reason, they are very cautious about determining the level at which they may resort to military intervention and are doing their best to manage all kinds of threats and emerging challenges through a predominantly software approach.

Q: The government of Russia has recently tried to make its Iraq diplomacy more active through a recent phone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. At the same time and on the other hand, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has paid a recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Don’t you think that this is a new answer that Russia is giving to the West in the case of Ukraine?

A: Russia understands the direction in which the development in Ukraine are moving and is trying to isolate the West in Ukraine and seeks a higher share in Ukraine’s developments. On the other hand, Russia is also aware of the role played by trans-Caucasian extremist currents in Syria and also in Iraq.

Russia has sensed the rising presence of new extremist currents in the Crimea and eastern parts of Ukraine and, therefore, needs to reduce the West’s concentration on Ukraine. This is not just a tactic, but Russia is feeling a strategic threat and considers itself entitled to play in a number of arenas in order to block the West’s policies. Therefore, every country that starts to distance from the West, automatically enters Russia’s political calculations. One such instance is the situation of Egypt and increasing political clout of the country’s military. Russia has also applied this policy when it has felt distances growing among various countries in the Middle East.

Moscow and Washington are well aware that the previous “reset” policy has failed and a new era of political rivalry, indirect conflict, and finding new allies simultaneous with limitation of bilateral cooperation has begun. Apart from its strategic aspect, the measure taken by Mr. Putin to declare readiness for offering military support to the government of Mr. Al-Maliki is also remarkable from other standpoints. It is said and is quite possible that the military aid from Russia will arrive in Iraq within the next few days, which would possibly include military helicopters, personnel carriers, and medium- and high-caliber ammunition.

Q: As put by our country’s foreign minister, the West has entered the new round of nuclear talks with unreal, illogical and excessive demands. Under these circumstances, how can one have hope in the success of the policy for limited cooperation between the two sides on regional issues?

A: We must make a differentiation between the policies followed by European countries and the United States with regard to Iran's nuclear issue. We even need to refrain from passing a final judgment when comparing the policies followed by Britain, France and Germany. The Western countries should also avoid miscalculations in this regard. This will prevent both sides from setting their pace and will finally cause them to fall out of the main path of balance. This is why despite efforts made by the two sides, negotiations have been proceeding slowly.

As for Iraq, Iran has been always concerned about stability, security and unity of the Iraqi people. The government of Iraq should be also able to get along with all currents within the country’s political structure and follow a policy of empathy and tolerance. This is the natural right of all healthy and legal political currents in Iraq.

Some political circles in the Western countries have proven that their treatment of the extremist currents in Iraq and their hostile approach to the country’s government and nation is similar to what they had previously done in relation with the Syrian government and people. This problem should be, once and for all, solved by statesmen and other officials in the Western countries. However, there is no unified approach in this regard and it is not clear what degree of political determination exists in the West, especially in the United States, for doing this. The United States is moving in a direction that makes prediction of its policies well-nigh impossible. This is why Washington makes a distinction between possible consultations with Iran over the situation in Iraq, and further cooperation with the Islamic Republic in other areas. There are, therefore, some ambiguities with regard to this issue. We must now avoid passing a final judgment and remember that the Western countries are well aware of the goodwill as well as the tolerance of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Key Words: US Policies, Developments in Iraq, ISIL, European Countries, Russia, Ukraine, Nouri Al-Maliki, Nuclear Talks, Illogical Demands, Iran, Koleini

Source: Mashreghnews.IR
http://www.mashreghnews.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Mohammad Farhad Koleini:

*Iran-EU Relations Should Not Be Overshadowed by Sanctions: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran-EU-Relations-Should-Not-Be-Overshadowed-by-Sanctions.htm

*How to Facilitate Bargaining in New Geneva Negotiations?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/How-to-Facilitate-Bargaining-in-New-Geneva-Negotiations-.htm

*West Should Change Tone and Approach to Iran: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/West-Should-Change-Tone-and-Approach-to-Iran.htm

*Photo Credit: Nameh News

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