email us


Fly to Iran

US Transcom
US Transcom

Iranian books

Sehaty Foreign Exchange

Advertise with The Iranian


 Write for The Iranian

Madeleine Albright. Photo by J. Javid

Ball in Iran's court
Will Iran grasp the opening offered by the U.S.?

From Iranians for International Cooperation
March 20, 2000
The Iranian

This past Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright finally gave an appropriate response (full text here) to President Khatami's address to the American people two years ago, and by that, clearly put the ball in Iran's court. In an impressive speech, she made it CLEAR once and for all, that any concerns that the U.S. may have with Iran are best addressed through dialogue, and not sanctions.

Secretary Albright addressed U.S. concerns, but also acknowledged Iran's importance, its undeniable internal evolution, Iranian women's prominent role in the country's political affairs and last but not least, its three "increasingly democratic rounds of elections".She also mentioned the similarities between Iranians and Americans, such as both people's fierce opposition to foreign domination.

Her comments regarding the Iranian people's right to decide their own future and SHAPE their own democracy's feature, consistent with its traditions and culture, are sure to be welcomed by Tehran. As is Secretary Albright's recognition of the U.S.'s role in the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, the reinstatement of the Shah and the comments regarding frozen Iranian assets.

Iranians for International Cooperation (IIC) has for long called for unconditional talks between the U.S. and Iran, and it welcomes Secretary Albright's measures. The Iranian government has in the past made it that an easing of sanctions should not only entail new business opportunities for American firms, but also for Iranian firms. And this is exactly what Secretary Albright delivered, an opportunity for Iranian carpet makers and pistachio farmers to export their products to the U.S.

Although a full lifting of the sanctions would have been better for both Iranian and American firms, this was nonetheless a step in the right direction. And as Secretary Albright declared herself, the pace of this process is secondary to its direction.

The next move is Iran's and Ambassador Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian's comments (part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5) that these steps are "refreshing" but insufficient to "make a quick and drastic change" in U.S.-Iran relations should be seen in light of the new parliament's overcrowded domestic agenda and the high expectations for domestic reforms that the new Majlis deputies have to live up to.

Nonetheless, Iran should bear in mind that it is not the only country with a domestic political scene and that with the presidential elections in the U.S., this window of opportunity may disappear just as quickly as it emerged. It should also be to all parties that demanding that all problems be solved before talks can take place, will not only render the dialogue impossible, it will also make it somewhat redundant. The dialogue is after all the instrument to be used to solve the problems, it is not a goal in itself.

In light of this, the American position is refreshing and Iran should adopt a similar attitude in order for both countries to be able to capitalize on this opportunity. It is also very refreshing that Secretary Albright recognized that "unnecessary impediments" to increased people-to-people contacts exist and that ways to remove these obstacles should be examined.

IIC has at numerous occasions pointed out to State Department officials that Iran's terrorist listing cannot be seen as an excuse to fingerprint Iranian grandmothers and children. If the U.S. officials wish to increase people-to-people exchanges, then they also have to find a way around these discriminatory procedures. Fortunately, this message seems now to have reached the decision makers. Ambassador Nejad-Hosseinian also noted this in his address to the American-Iranian Council.

But Iran too bears guilt in these matters. Albeit not as humiliating as being treated as a common criminal at U.S. airports, having to spend a week in Turkey to obtain a visa to the U.S. should also be seen as an unnecessary impediment to increased contacts. Just as the U.S. has allowed three Iranian servicemen to be stationed in the embassy of Pakistan in Washington to handle consular matters, the Iranian government should permit the stationing of a few U.S. personnel in the Swiss embassy in Teheran. This in order to take care of the necessary consular work that is associated with these people-to-people exchanges.

The ball is now in Iran's court. Some of the sanctions have been lifted and a promise to remove impediments to increased contacts as well as an admission of the U.S.'s meddling in Iranian affairs have been made. The rest of the problems should be taken care of at the negotiating table. Iran must now grasp this opening before the winds of enmity shut this window of opportunity closed.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment to Iranians for International Cooperation

 Send flowers

Copyright © Abadan Publishing Co. All Rights Reserved. May not be duplicated or distributed in any form

 MIS Internet Services

Web Site Design by
Multimedia Internet Services, Inc

 GPG Internet server

Internet server by
Global Publishing Group.