Sunday, January 04, 2009

To-Do List: Iran

Since I am so generously providing President Elect Obama with some suggestions for his agenda, I might as well add to the list. Iran: it's time to restore diplomatic relations with that country as well. Like it did after the Cuban revolution, the US has done its best to isolate Iran after its revolution, using the excuse of the hostage taking done by Iran in the final days of fighting.

With no direct contact between the two countries, the US has been hard-pressed to find ways to stop Iran's drive for nuclear weaponry/nuclear power and its financial and arms support for groups such as Hamas and the Mahdi Army. Furthermore, given Iran's current status as Iraq's Best Friend Forever, the US could use some help from Iran's leaders in quelling the violence in Iraq, but most of the discussions between the two nations have been indirect. President Bush's philosophy of "We don't talk to our enemies" has made relations with Iran even worse, which I didn't think was possible.

In browsing through the articles at Watching America, I found a relevant editorial in Saudi Arabia's English-language Arab News. The writer offers some advice that President Obama really ought to consider.

Obama needs to begin gradually. Any sudden volte-face would be trumpeted by the clerical establishment as a victory. It would be used by Ahmadinejad to widen his appeal to young voters. And it might be used to show that the defiance of world opinion and Western sanctions over Iran’s nuclear research is virtually cost-free. There are many steps that Washington could take, however, that would slowly isolate the hard-liners while helping to resolve the conflicts on which they base their demagoguery.

First, Washington should return American diplomats to Tehran. None has been based there since the 444-day siege of the embassy ended in 1981, with Washington having to rely on Swiss intermediaries. Second, the US should begin technical discussions, probably in international financial forums, on releasing frozen Iranian assets and easing some of the trade embargoes. Third, Washington should continue and expand low-level talks on guaranteeing stability in Iraq.

These initial steps, taken with appropriate deliberation, might very well ease some of the tensions gripping the Middle East and might remove some of the complications that make a lasting peace between Israel and Palestine such a distant dream. It might also help to resolve the nuclear issue with Iran, a resolution which would allow that country's neighbors to breathe a little easier.

It's time.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Arab News can be an interesting source of articles. But what would make it even better would be "page 3 girls."

I keed, I keed!

9:01 AM  

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