Friday, April 11, 2008

Negotiations with the US

Etemad a daily newspaper of the reformist camp published an interview last week with John Limbert one of the political officers of the American Embassy who was held hostage by the revolutionary students in 1979 a few months after the Islamic Revolution. Limbert stressed that he believed relations between the two countries were unhealthy after the 1953 Coup d'etat against the nationalist priminister Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh.

He said he believed that in addition to the foreign factor there were other elements that provided support for the Shah's dictatorial regime but circumstances were such that everyone thought the regime relied only on the US for its existence. He pointed to a reality and an image and said that in the takeover of the American embassy the Iranians saw the image. He acknowledged that granting entrance to the US for the deposed Shah was a strategic mistake.

Paul Newsom a former deputy Secretary of State also had mentioned the fact that he and even President Carter initially opposed the idea but gave in to the pressures by David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger (More about this at New York Times).

Limbert regrets the fact that relations between the two countries have been in a deadlock and attempts to improve them were always thwarted by parties who do not want to see this happening.He said he believed there were many reasons for the two countries to work together on the basis of their mutual interests.

I think this was a noteworthy interview and being published by a reformist newspaper I think it is an indication of the sensitive times we have ahead of us. Inspite of the harsh rhetoric that the neoconservative administration is using against Iran , I think there are many people within the system who believe in changing the approach. The neocons are not ready to relinquish their arrogant tone and policy vis a vis Iran. Bilateral negotiations for the future of Iraq, cooperation on issues like terrorism and narcotics , increased exchanges at the non governmental level are issues that should be promoted.

Constant threats and pressure for sanctions and regime change and adopting 75 million dollar bills to weaken Iran are futile tactics that only serve to increase security pressures leading to more difficult times for the civil society, independent social and political activists and independent media. In short it serves as a major impediment for democracy in Iran.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Ebtekar, I liked this article very much, thank you for writing it.
Are there civil societies in Iran who are actually being allowed to advocate "Peace with America"?

I'm under the impression that unfortunately, it was this very fundamental difference between the Reformist mindset and that of people in the current hard-line government, which led to Mr. Khatami's loss of power and political clout and legitimacy, unfortunately :-(

I'm just not quite sure where the current supreme leader and his friends like Dr. Larijani and Dr. Haddad-Adel are with respect to this idea of "Peace with America"?

Of course, if you talk to most "zedde-enghelab" expatriates (whether they be Royalists, or Nationalists, or the traitor Marxists "Mojahedin"), they will paint quite a black and white picture of politics in Iran, and will categorize the entire conservative camp in Iran as fundamentalists who thrive on instability, and have no desire to make peace with anybody b/c that would take away their "raison d'etre"!
They put the current leader and ALL his friends in that camp, they don't make any distinction bretween the radical Ahmadinejad people and the more pragmatic Larijani guys!

About the Reformists, opinions vary over here, some people (like me) love them and think of them as Iran's best chance (or only chance) for finding its way to TRUE democracy one day (with all Human Rights and Freedoms, for ALL men AND women), but then there are some people who dismiss the Reformist movement as powerless and irrelevant, b/c they see the current leader basically as a dictator who stands in the way of any real reform!

I am not that cynical, and hope that the ugly picture most people paint of the system in Iran, is actually not that accurate. I don't know, maybe I'm too naive, but I think if Iran has decided to take the route to Economic Development, and has such a lofty 20-year plan as it does, then it cannot still be working on the basis of "Survival" by uniting people behind them out of "Fear" of the big bad wolf (USA)!

The big power players in Iran (like Rafsanjani and Khamenei) must have already realized that painting Iran as the enemy of the West, is the equivalent of making sure that their 20-year plan does not get achieved!
This is why I have a much smarter image in my head of the way the IRI system is run! but I may be tragically wrong, and the situation might be as grim and hopeless as most anti-IRI people claim it is!
Would you please elaborate on my questions in your next blog? Thank you.