Friday, March 27, 2009

The Impact of the Coming U.S.-Iran Detente

Patrick Seale in the Middle East Times, here
"...Israel has expressed great unease. Its greatest fear is that a U.S.-Iran detente will erode its own position as America's closest regional ally, and might even threaten its monopoly of nuclear weapons. It is pressuring the United States to make its dialogue with Iran short - if dialogue there must be - and to redouble its sanctions against Tehran, in order to compel it to end its nuclear program. In turn, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are alarmed at Iran's rise as a regional rival and will need reassurance from Washington that their interests will not be ignored in any U.S.-Iranian deal...
Obama has understood that Iran's help will be needed to stabilize Iraq; to curb the Taliban in Afghanistan; to moderate hardline Palestinian factions in the search for an Arab-Israeli settlement; and to contribute to Lebanon's political harmony. Iran has become a regional power that can no longer be isolated or ignored, since its influence extends into all the interconnected conflicts in the area.
Today, there is a glaring contrast between Obama's words of conciliation addressed to Tehran and the continued attempts by U.S. Treasury officials - Stuart Levey prominent among them - to broaden financial sanctions against Iran, starve its foreign trade of finance, and force international banks to suspend all business with Iranian banks. As recently as this month, the U.S. blacklisted 11 companies linked to Iran's Bank Melli. In addition, Dennis Ross, the recently appointed Obama administration's point-man on Iran, has long been closely associated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think-tank dedicated to influencing America's Middle East policy in a pro-Israeli direction. WINEP continues to campaign stridently for sanctions against Iran, and for military action if sanctions fail. ..
Obama will need to resolve these contradictions if he is to be heard in Tehran, and if the dialogue he is seeking is not to be sabotaged by officials and special interests in his own government..."

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