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Who Loses or Benefits from Iran-US Negotiations?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

An unexpected meeting between two presidents

Hossein Valeh

Speculations are rife about a possible meeting between the presidents of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States on the sidelines of the 68th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. As a result, there have been heated debates about when Iran and the United States may sit at the same table to negotiate the resumption of bilateral relations. There are still many people who believe that such a meeting would be precocious. While respecting this point of view and understanding subtle concerns which may exist in this regard, the following article argues that efforts aimed at the resumption of bilateral negotiations between Tehran and Washington should get under way as soon as possible.

Ceasing hostility, reducing tension in bilateral relations, normalization of ties, and resumption of cooperation between Iran and the United States “must” be top priorities for the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy under the existing circumstances. This “must” will never mean that the Iranian government has decided to pass over the basic ideals of the Islamic Revolution. To better understand this issue, it would suffice to answer this question: “Who will lose and who will benefit from reestablishment of relations and cooperation between Iran and the United States?”

There are few political analysts who are not aware that the biggest losers, in case the existing problems between Iran and the United States are resolved, will be Israel as well as dictatorial and dependent Arab states in the region. Israel will be a loser because in case of détente between Tehran and Washington, Tel Aviv will have no more excuses to play the martyr before the world’s public opinion as a result of which it will easily lose the sense of sympathy that Israel’s Western backers have felt toward the Zionist entity for many years. On the other hand, the Arab dictatorships in the region will also lose because in view of what had happened in these countries during the past years [in the form of the Arab Spring] they will easily realize that there is no more reason for them to exist.

The ongoing political developments in the Middle East as well as runaway competition among regional countries that aim to increase their regional clout have faced the White House with a serious dilemma. At present, the US President Barack Obama is facing a tough choice between two equally disadvantageous options: either to forget about his policy of change and give in to the discourse of Reaganism, or to insist on his policy of change at the cost of appearing weak before the public opinion inside the United States. Both options will probably lead to a “yellow card” being shown to Obama, which will be a prelude to possible failure of the Democrats in the next US presidential election. In fact, diplomacy is the art of making the most of the opponent’s weaknesses every time that the opportunity arises. To sit for negotiations and even full establishment of relations and cooperation between two countries will never mean total transformation of one or both sides and complete lack of any differences between them. Even those enemies that are engaged in actual war involving firearms do not totally cut their diplomatic contacts. Throughout the entire eight years of imposed Iraqi war against Iran, both the Embassy of Iraq in Tehran and Iran's Embassy in Baghdad remained functional. No country in the modern world is able to totally annihilate its enemies. Therefore, the best option which is chosen by wise states is to rein in their adversaries, reduce hostility, increase the number of their friends and boost their influence through friendship.

The reestablishment of ties between Iran and the United States is not a silver bullet able to solve all the existing problems between the two countries because all the problems Iran is facing are not due to the Washington’s hostility toward Tehran. However, even with this presumption in mind, priority should be still given to the policy of speeding up resolution of problems between Iran and the United States. Improvement of ties between Tehran and Washington will strip Israel of the current excuses for constantly threatening Iran and its allies, and will also prevent the reactionary Arab regimes from taking advantage of the hostility between Iran and the United States to pursue their hegemonic goals in the Muslim world as well as the Arab world. Iran-US détente will also eliminate breeding grounds for blind terrorism laced with ethnic and sectarian motives, which has currently posed a serious threat to the entire Islamic world. All the aforesaid items are of urgent priority.

The annual session of the UN General Assembly offers the best opportunity for the application of diplomatic initiatives. The heads of state taking part in the session will have an opportunity to address their counterparts or their representatives. The very essence of this session requires contacts among the participating heads of state. The United Nations has been basically established as a place for the settlement of disputes among the states. It would be out of the ordinary if an instance of international conflict cannot be settled through this world body. The presence and behavior of various heads of state at the UN General Assembly session will reveal their attitudes, policies and goals to the world people. During the ongoing session, the difference between the United States under the administrations of [former US President George] Bush and Obama, as well as the difference between the Islamic Republic under [former Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad and [the current Iranian Chief Executive Hassan] Rouhani should be reflected in the conduct of the two countries’ presidents. Let’s not forget that Iran managed to forge international consensus in 2001 over the idea of “dialogue among civilizations,” [which was offered by then Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.]

The common denominator between the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran and those of the United States as well as the best way for the management of differences and assessment of the two countries’ determination to work for the promotion of global peace and security should be accurately identified. The first encounter among heads of state should be considered a good opportunity to strive toward this goal. It goes without saying that those parties who are not satisfied with such a state of events will not spare any mischief in order to prevent this from happening. It is precisely for this, if not any other, reason that the presidents of Iran and the United States should meet [on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session].

*Dr. Hossein Valeh was the Political Deputy at Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami’s Office and Iran's Former Ambassador to Algeria. He is now the Faculty Member of Shahid Beheshti University

Key Words: Iran-US Negotiations, United Nations General Assembly, Losers, Winners, Israel, Arab Regimes, Global Peace and Security, Dialogue among Civilizations, Valeh

Source: Khabaronline News Website
http://www.khabaronline.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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