Monday, March 20, 2006

Iran: The Moment of Truth

Iran: The Moment of Truth
Ali-Asghar Kazemi
March 17, 2006

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When one is guided by mere force of dogma or instinct and not reason, and the survival is at stake, everything is permissible, since ends justify means. This is to say that principles can be sacrificed when the issue reduces to this simple question: To be or not to be?

Twenty seven years after the coming into power of a regime which started its religious reign with the hostage taking of the American diplomats for 444 days, the revolutionary Iran is now facing the crude realities of the rules of the game in world politics. Iran’s nuclear case has been referred to the U.N. Security Council and is awaiting a crucial decision which will eventually decide the fate of a theological regime in the 21st century.

During the past decades Iran was somehow able to escape the long awaited chastisement for its controversial deeds in international scene, either through smart maneuvers or by taking advantage of its God-given riches to buy support or to fuel hatred and disturbances in the region. Indeed, to overcome multiple threats and complots, Iran had to pay a very high price. But, it is not quite sure whether it will be able to bear the consequences of appalling political and diplomatic blunders during the past six months.

Iran-Iraq conflict was a war by proxy conducted by those who wanted to diminish to nil the two controversial destabilizing regimes in the region. The “Dual Containment Strategy” only worked until the end of the bipolar world and then changed the course without the expected results. More than a million perished in this futile war and the two feuding powers managed to come safe out of the bloody mess.

Aggression on Kuwait by a frustrated powerful Iraq provided the opportunity to Iran to pose as an innocent party to the conflict blaming its neighbor for aggressive intentions in the region. The case temporarily ended up through the first American military intervention in Iraq, choosing not to remove the “butcher of Baghdad” fearing Iran’s ascendance to regional power. The mission was finally accomplished through a second U.S. intervention whose outcome was the collapse of Baath regime as Iran’s perennial hostile and archenemy. All of these developments occurred in absolute favor of the Islamic regime in Iran.

The fall of Saddam Hussein and the consequent turmoil in Iraq was indeed a miracle that only could be achieved through hands of the Almighty God. Miraculously, these hands came out of the sleeves of the Great Satan. In fact, U.S. President is regarded as the savior angel for revolutionary Iran; since every thing he has done so far is in the direction of achieving its interests. Furthermore, as long as the American forces are entangled in Iraq’s havoc, Iranian rulers feel secure from any harsh action that would endanger their existence.

During the two previous governments, formed by the pragmatic Rafsanjani and the self-styled reformist Khatami, Iranian leaders managed to avoid a direct confrontation with the U.S. A couple of times they preferred to settle their disputes (including the hostage, Airbus and Oil-platform cases) through the International Court of Justice (ICJ). This meant that Islamic regime’s overall propensity to engage in a conflict with a superpower has been very low. On the other hand, Americans too did not wish to entertain active hostility with Iran for the reasons beyond the scope of this short essay. This was despite all the rhetoric and verbal challenges made against Americans during the past decades.

Only six months after the coming into power of the new conservative hard-line president, the situation changed and on U.S. persistence Iran’s nuclear case was referred to the U.N. Security Council. This means paving the way for sanctions, military intervention and ultimately toppling an unwanted regime which has been listed on the “axis of evil” for quite sometimes. This was prompted by a number of unwise statements made by the inexperienced president, who out of na├»ve political beliefs or pure religious zeal, provided a fertile ground for the international community to reach a consensus against Iran’s danger for world peace and security.

This whole development is exposing a new face of the Islamic regime which never before appeared on the scene. Some people argue that there is nothing new in this outlook; since Mr. Ahmadinejad truly represents the soul of the religious Shiite enigma, and a revolutionary regime that pledges to guide the whole world to the path of salvation. Curiously enough, this regime is striving to acquire nuclear technology and claimed to be ready to pay the price for its contested venture. Who in the world of politics is ready to deal confidently with such a controversial government?

Unfortunately, the moment of truth is approaching with all of its bitterness and glumness. Now that the seriousness of the situation is felt by the intransigent hard-liners, they are declaring their readiness to sit and negotiate with the Great Satan. It does not really matter whether it is on Iraq’s situation, nuclear issue, human rights or terrorism. They just want to convey the message that finally we were not so much serious about what we said before. Surely, they can launch their propaganda apparatus in order to justify their new position for public. In fact, not only people will not object to the matter but also will be much grateful with such broken covenant, provided it would insure that there would be no foreign intervention in their homeland. To many, these direct talks should have taken place many years ago before it could inflict so much material and human damages to this country. But, as I argued elsewhere, only hard-liners could dare to raise the issue and achieve this task.

Americans however have said that this is not really a negotiating process but some kind of warning to Iran about the continued violence in Iraq and the necessity that the neighboring state should abstain from meddling in its internal affairs. The Islamic regime wishes that once ices are broken they can benefit the opportunity of the new environment to de-escalate the crisis condition. This may in turn help to redirect the nuclear case from the Security Council to the IAEA Governing Council for further negotiations.

To be or not to be, this is the question. We shall wait and see whether this maneuver can do any good to attenuate the grave situation.

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