According to a July 13 report in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration intends to press for direct negotiations with Tehran. According to the report, this follows Iran’s president-elect, Hassan Rouhani, sending “positive signals both publicly and privately about his interest in engaging with the international community on the nuclear issue.”
The report also quotes a senior official as saying: “We are open to direct talks, and we want to reinforce this in any way [we can].”
The history of US–Iranian relations is filled with failed talks, both secret and open. Nevertheless, despite the hostile relations between the two states since the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, there have been offers to open dialogue from one or both parties under the tenure of every president of the United States.
There are many indications that both parties are willing to resolve their disputes, from the secret trip by Robert McFarlane, President Reagan’s special envoy to Tehran, in 1986 and Iran’s unofficial proposal for a “grand bargain” in 2003, to Iran’s cooperation with the Americans in overthrowing the Taliban in 2001 and President Obama’s offer of a “new beginning” in his 2009 remarks for the Iranian New Year.
However, until now the two countries have not been able to find a way out of the quagmire of non-negotiation and non-compromise. This pattern did not exist between the United States and its foes even in the Cold War, when the US maintained diplomatic relations with the communist bloc.
In this article, there is no space to delve into causes of the formation of this rare relationship; however, major factors that have obstructed the formation of a sustained and meaningful negotiation process can be briefly mentioned.
July 20, 2013Read the full article...