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Shouting match diplomacy
Erratic U.S. foreign policy


July 31, 2007

The bi-lateral meetings of mid-May and last Tuesday in Baghdad between U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Iran’s ambassador to that country, Hassan Kazemi-Qumi, were the sole talks at the ambassadorial level in more than two decades. This could be viewed as a change of attitude, however temporary, in the Bush Administration. 

If in the aftermath of the first meeting Crocker was cautiously upbeat about the outcome, in the press conference following the second he unleashed a salvo of unfounded claims that Iran is funding, arming, training and even planning the operations of the Iraqi militia against the U.S. and Iraqi troops. Moreover, the White House charges that Iran is providing cover for Al-Qaeda high-ranking cadres in Iran or closes its eyes to their activities in Iran-Pakistan border regions, which are utterly preposterous – an “up-dated version of WMD’s!

Although the meeting was characterized by the major media in the U.S. as “something of a shouting match”, the two delegations agreed to form a security committee “that would address at an expert or technical level some issues relating to security, be that support to violent militias, Al Qaeda or border security,” Crocker said.

On his part, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq, Kazemi-Qumi, emphatically denied that Iran was supporting anti-U.S. militias in Iraq. A foreign ministry spokesman’s response to the U.S. charges was that “It is crystal clear that the main objective behind repetition of such baseless accusations against Iran is to pursue the U.S. propaganda fuss and psychological warfare against the country.” Dismissing arrogantly, Crocker declared “This is not something we’re trying to, or we need to, prove in a court of law.” 

His belligerent tone appears to reflect a shift in the balance of forces within the U.S. administration in favor of waging a war against Iran, rather than using the channel of diplomacy and holding talks to resolve the differences between the two countries over the miserable situation in Iraq. U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, the State Dept. and even the CIA emphasizes on punitive sanctions, political and diplomatic isolation, and bolstering opposition groups to force Iran to capitulate to U.S. dictates, but in no way none of them rule out the military option.

In contrast, Vice President Dick Cheney, not to mention Presidential candidate Mitch Romney, Senator Joe Lieberman and all of the neo-conservatives of the Bush Administration, in league with the Zionist state of Israel reject “diplomacy” and the UN involvement in the issue as counter-productive and continue to push their agenda of bombarding Iran’s nuclear facilities, its administrative and security headquarters and water and power stations, just as in Iraq, but on a much larger scale.

The splits within the administration, the U.S. Congress, the American people as a whole, and on the international level (IAEA & EU) are the result of the valiant resistance of the people of Iraq to the criminal U.S. occupation and not to forget the U.S. public pressure on Washington to extract itself from the Iraq quagmire, which would be impossible to achieve without Iranian cooperation in helping to stabilize the country. But as long as Iran fears the possibility of U.S. military aggression against it, Tehran feels a lot safer with the U.S. bogged down and desperate in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, Iran is unlikely to help the U.S. in the region in the absence of any quid pro quo on a much wider range of other issues such as Iran’s nuclear program, short-leashing Israel and changing its attitude towards Iran’s status in the M.E.

Therefore, Iran cannot afford to deal with Iraq’s insecurity separate from other issues involving the U.S. In that regard, the Islamic Republic of Iran learned a painful lesson in Afghanistan. As we may recall, Tehran helped in the formation of a new order in Afghanistan, and asked the U.S. for bi-lateral talks to settle the issues at hand. But what did it receive in exchange? George W. Bush and company included Iran in the links of the “axis of evil.” Therefore, Iranian leadership is unlikely to repeat their bitter experience in Afghanistan -- this time in Iraq. 

IAEA Talks in Tehran
Parallel to the bi-lateral talks between the ambassadors of Iran and the U.S. to Iraq, a delegate from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tehran on July 17 and met with the Iranian officials from the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) of Iran and began discussing ways to draw up a “framework” to resolve the ambiguities over Iran’s nuclear activities.

During the three-day meetings, Iran agreed to allow the IAEA inspectors to visit the construction of a reactor in Arak, and discuss such controversial issues as “contamination” of used centrifuges, “plutonium experimentations” and the origin of P1 and P2 centrifuges” in Iran’s nuclear activities.

Both General Secretary of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon and the Director-General of the IAEA, Mohammed ElBaradei, welcomed the talks with Iran, along with the foreign ministers of China, Russia, and Germany, and all agreed that dialogue and not more punitive sanctions are the way to resolve the differences. On June 25, 2007, Global Policy Forum reported that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the U.S. to delay the pursuit of tougher sanctions against Iran, while the UN inspectors of the IAEA are trying to break the stalemate over the country’s nuclear program. Ban Ki-moon said that the Security Council of the UN must let the IAEA work towards a peaceful resolution of the dispute. Ban Ki-moon said when Mohammed ElBaradei says he wants to have a plan of action and engage in dialogue, I support that kind of initiative. 

These recent events and statements lead us to two conclusions: Firstly, the diverse reactions among the members of the UN Security Council to the position put forward by Ban Ki-moon and ElBaradei shows a potential split between them over how to proceed. Secondly, the U.S. threat of force and recommendations for more punitive sanctions are designed to sabotage the process of dialogue between the UN nuclear watchdog and Iran.  Comment

Ardeshir Ommani, an activist in the anti-war and anti-imperialist struggle for over 40 years, including against the Vietnam War. Ardeshir is a co-founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC), where news of his most recent visit to Iran in March & April 2006 can be read. He helped launch the successful campaign. He has written a number of articles documenting the U.S. foreign policy toward Iran.


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Ardeshir Ommani


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