Wednesday, February 11, 2009

• Iran & A Solution To The Middle East

Iran presents the United States with the most potent opportunity for a comprehensive breakthrough in foreign policy affecting the whole of the Middle East. Current dissatisfaction of Iranians with their current President’s mismanagement of the country’s economy, and the upcoming summer elections, present the United States an exceptional opportunity. A relationship can be forged with Iranians, first, and their leadership, second.

There is much common ground between the two countries that gets all but ignored or lost in the noise of rhetoric by leadership, and misrepresentation in the media. The U.S. should focus some attention on the people of Iran rather than strictly addressing itself to the governing Mullahs and President. Iranians have more in common with the West than is generally accepted or admitted, and they should not be confused with the Muslim fundamentalism that permeates countries such as Saudi Arabia or Syria. Iranians are well educated, and unlike their current leadership, have a distaste for ideological governance. They are generally suspicious of most rulers in the Middle East, and it appears they now are having second thoughts about their own leaders.

Beyond the prying eyes of their leadership, Iranians dress in the latest fashions, and are as anxious to conduct business and build companies with the kind of fervor and enthusiasm that most in North America would readily recognize and applaud. One only needs to look at companies that Iranian expatriates have built in Western nations for further evidence of Iranian entrepreneurialism. They enjoy a beautiful country with sometimes subtropical climate, bordering the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, and benefit from a wealth produced by such resources as oil, gas, coal, chromium, copper, lead, manganese, zinc and sulphur.

Although it is Muslim, Iran is not an Arabic country, which is a significant differentiation evidenced in its strained relationships with neighboring countries. Analysis of Iran’s fueling of Arabic insurgents in its Middle East neighborhood suggests that its participation in unsettling the Arab world is an inexpensive method of achieving self-security. Iran is really more concerned with its immediate neighbors than it is about the United States, or even Israel, nevertheless, under the current circumstances it’s leadership is taking actions that are in the nationalistic self-interest.

Afghanistan is a neighbor providing it with little other than a mountain of trouble, including heroin (Iranians have one of the highest rates of drug addiction), and a long history of hostile governments. On its Iraqi front, the West witnessed, even participated, in Iran’s war with a wayward and ruthless dictator. While Iran presently supports insurgencies in Iraq, those strategic gambits would come to an abrupt end if the U.S. were to build a broad based relationship with its population. The same goes for its arms sales to Hamas, and its support of Palestinian insurgents. Israel would have a much less aggressive neighbor, and a weakened capacity to launch terrorist attacks.

Some self proclaimed experts on Iran suggest that any overtures made to the Iranian government should include acknowledging the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic’s government, and make representations or commitments that the U.S. would not seek to change it. This would be a mistake. The U.S. should abstain from making such overtures, and leave that to Iran’s 66 million people to decide. The Iranian population in majority has little affection for its own leadership. Approach should be very public, and any “meeting” must be held under the glare of the media’s prying eyes. Any meeting should not be restricted to the “political” sphere. This would be a mistake. Rapprochement should include representatives from both U.S. and Iranian business communities even though much of economic activity in Iran is controlled by the state. As a comprehensive relationship becomes structured for the advantage of both Americans and Iranians, each stage should be shared through effective PR with the population.

The U.S. should also side-step the European Union in such meetings. Europe has little to gain by a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Iran. Iran presents a large market for European products. Its objective should be to lift sanctions, normalize bilateral relations including the opening of trade routes, and concluding some initial deals for goods and natural resources. This effort would be a forward step in the reversal of the ravaging effects that unemployment and inflation have administered on Iran’s economy, along with the heavy hand of a rigid and backward government.

If a threshold is built on such a basis, the people of Iran will quickly step into the fray, and the architecture of mutual respect will crystallize rapidly. From there it may well be a matter of months before the people of Iran replace the conservative clerics ruling them, with a secular government which is the preference of their vast majority. Once Iranians have developed the confidence that their security concerns are shared with a resilient partner, it can be expected that Iran will open its nuclear ambitions to more scrutiny. In time, it might even agree to the dismantling of the nuclear infrastructure. The tide that has created the “brain drain” of the past twenty years would reverse, and find many expatriates who now reside in places like Canada and Great Britain, returning in droves to enjoy their unique position as Persians in the Middle East, in from the cold of isolation.


  1. Ayatollahs are looking for a commitment from the US that it would not seek to change it and that’s their ultimate goal by wanting to have direct talk with the US.

    Although Iranian people don’t like the idea of such commitment and I guess nor the US should commit to it because it is not gonna be any countries business if Iranians want to change regime. It is people’s choice and it should stay like that.

    There is one argument that Islamic regime often use in regards of Israel-Palestine issues whenever they asked “How do you think we can solve the issue?” and they would respond “It is not our business, it is Palestinians business and we suggest if they put a referendum then people from both sides can vote and decide upon it”
    I guess the US should basically incorporate same argument with Islamic Iran, but hey, would it be any deal if the US brings such argument? I don’t think so.

    But it’s very important for Iranian people that the US won’t sacrifice their rights for sake of a deal with Islamic regime because most Iranians haven’t been happy with this regime and although the US planned the 1953 coup but still many people think of US as their friend, compare to Russia or Germany.

    Having relationship with the US even under current Islamic totalitarian regime is people’s wish but they don’t want to see the US supports Islamic totalitarian regime.

  2. Fariborz,

    Thanks for the comment. At this point in the relationship, concern of nuclear capability is well founded, but it is only through positive relationship with the "people" of Iran that any real change will come.

    It is also necessary to understand the their need for security in a corner of the world that is generally hostile to them.

    Fundamentalist clerics don't wish to see their people develop any sense of freedom, and use the old method of instilling fear to suppress them. Meantime, they accumulate wealth for themselves offshore.

  3. We should have a comprehensive dialogue with Iran and open up bilateral relationship. We can only benefit from our relationship with Iran. Not only by solving/reducing the middle east tensions, but also economically. They will immediatley place huge orders for boeing passenger airplanes, they would sign contracts for improving oil and gas infrastructure, etc. We should not continue getting our orders from Israel and the zionist lobby in Washington.