Iran – a Puzzle for Obama

The Iranian crisis also has a problematic appendage outside the borders, particularly in the United States. Barack Obama’s administration began with a change of strategy towards the dossier concerning Iran, compared to the previous one of George W. Bush, based exclusively on the exercise of increasing pressure and on the military threat. Iran was the favorite target of American neo-conservatives and for four years Bush found in the person of Ahmadinejad an opponent who exactly corresponded to the needs of his policy, transforming the Islamic Republic into the Enemy of the West: the nuclear race, the provocative threats against the existence of the Jewish state and a violent denial campaign with the questioning of the historical reality of the Holocaust,

Since the election campaign, Barack Obama overturns this approach, proposing dialogue as the most effective tool to remove the real or presumed dangers that Iran would represent for Middle Eastern and world stability. Then, from the very first moves as president, he makes it clear that his policy of dialogue with the Islamic world is not only a means to correct the errors of the past administration, to restore the image of the United States among Muslim countries, but it is above all a structural need from which we start to build the international relations of the future, to give the United States back its weight and place in world leadership and to restore balance in one of the most destabilizing areas in the world, the Middle East.

According to Itypeusa, Obama’s outstretched hand to Islam is unprecedented in American history. Never has a US president spent so much effort to emphasize that in Islam there is “recognition of our common humanity”. In the first five months of his arrival at the White House, Obama gives an interview to Al Arabiya television (January 26); on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, he sends a message of good wishes to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic (March 20); gives a speech to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara (April 6) and gives a lecture at the Al Azhar University in Cairo (June 4): everywhere a passionate and strong appeal to Muslims to join forces with those of the United States in a common path to the future. He speaks of the “new era”, he says that “Islam is part of America”, Ou-ba-ma, “Him with us”. Some excessive emphasis, some forcing of symbols and some rhetoric, but in Obama’s words it can be understood that the American president attributes a particular strategic value to the Islamic world. We understand that it takes into account the fact that that world is not only made up of fundamentalists and religious fanatics, but is also a huge market of over one and a half billion people, a gigantic reservoir of human resources and advanced technologies, of scientific skills., financial and economic awareness and millenary culture. Obama clearly states that Islam is not only terrorism, backwardness and obscurantism, but also includes Malaysia, Indonesia (the most populous country in the Islamic world), Singapore, all countries that fully enter the list of emerging powers in Asia. It is also Turkey, a member of NATO and frontier of the Islamic world with Europe, it is Abu Dhabi, now one of the nerve centers of world finance, it is Egypt, Morocco and it is Iran itself, another emerging political power capable of hegemonizing the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region.

In the message of greetings on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, addressing not only the people, but also the Iranian leaders, Obama establishes an absolute novelty in the approach of the White House: the real recipients of that message are the Iranian ayatollahs, and this, implicitly, makes it clear that the new American administration not only does not aim to overthrow the Islamic regime, as in the past, but aims at dialogue with that regime, overturning the policy practiced for 30 years by almost all previous presidents. Ahmadinejad responds to Obama’s invitation in a substantially positive way, while opening towards the United States remains one of the particularly problematic issues for leadership of the country. Iran asks for facts following the words, but awaits the electoral appointment on June 12 to define its position towards Obama.

Washington is also preparing to take concrete steps in the direction of Tehran and hopes to find a solid and reliable interlocutor at the end of the Iranian presidential elections to begin negotiations. But what happens in Iran in the aftermath of the presidential elections makes any American initiative difficult and the only viable decision seems to be not to decide. In fact, at the G8 in L’Aquila, the club of world powers hesitates in unequivocally condemning the progress of the Iranian elections, expresses disdain for the repression against the opposition, but does not close the door to dialogue. As for nuclear power, then, in the absence of serious negotiations on the part of Tehran,

However, Barack Obama’s caution towards Iran is not explained only by the new strategy adopted by the American administration. The Iranian question is part of a larger plan and includes at least three other factors: the exit of American troops from Iraq, the NATO offensive in Afghanistan against the advance of the Taliban and the security of the State of Israel.. In these three fields, the role and weight of the Islamic Republic cannot be overlooked and Obama’s America cannot afford withdrawal from Iraq, the war against the Koranic students in Afghanistan and the imposition of the two-state solution on Israel., one Israeli and the other Palestinian, without serious negotiations with Tehran. In 2009, the puzzle of Iran-US relations therefore reaches its most tangled and most complex moment. The Iranian policy of the White House is closely linked both to the evolution of the internal crisis of the Islamic Republic and to the developments of the crisis in the Middle East region, including that of Afghanistan. But this also applies to the leadership Iranian, which can no longer justify its radicalism in foreign policy with the absence of an interlocutor in the West, with the presence of a warmongering president in the White House, with Washington’s aggressive policy towards itself, with threats of intervention military from the Pentagon and with plans by the State Department and the CIA to overthrow the regime in Iran. More than once during the electoral crisis in Iran Ahmadinejad and Khamenei try to bring up Obama and attribute the same intentions to him as Bush towards Iran: “Obama is equal to Bush”, they say, but their accusations this time are not they find no confirmation in the reality of the facts; the Obama administration strictly refuses to intervene in the ongoing political conflict in the Islamic Republic, showing a rigid equidistance between conservatives and reformists, and continues to argue that for the United States the negotiation and diplomatic option to resolve the nuclear dossier and remove all the obstacles that have prevented the normalization of relations between the two countries remains valid. But one wonders if the advent of a pro-Islamic president, inclined to dialogue, has somehow urged the Iranian masses to revolt, if the green movement in Iran has recognized itself in Obama’s strategy. If Bush had hoped to overthrow the Iranian regime with threats, is Obama one step away from achieving the same result by offering dialogue? Probably the answer to these questions is negative, even if the prospect of a negotiation process with the United States nonetheless ignites a tough debate within the ruling class of the Islamic Republic and the American president, unlike his predecessors, enjoys a certain sympathy with public opinion. The plan to reconfirm Ahmadinejad as president and win a second term was ready long before Obama’s candidacy for the presidency of the United States. Since 2008 there has been talk in Iran of the constitution of a virtual party, the ‘Padegani Party’, the military party in charge of presiding over the land in view of the elections of 12 June 2009. A large part of the Pasdaran and Basiji corps adhered to Padegani, but also some ultra-conservative ayatollahs and of course Ahmadinejad himself. The existence of that party, implicitly present at all levels of Iranian political life, it had been denounced several times by Khatami and Karrubi. The party had long ago mobilized hundreds of thousands of Basiji volunteers to prepare for Ahmadinejad’s success and the Pasdaran commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, had explicitly threatened to have his troops intervene if a reformist was appointed to the presidency of the Republic: “In today’s Islamic Republic there is the possibility that those who come to govern do not have the authority to carry out that role,” said General Jafari on December 26, 2008 at the headquarters of the former American embassy in Tehran, occupied 28 years earlier by the students following the line of Imam Khomeini. “In that case – he had threatened – once again the role of young people will be decisive, their mobilization and their clarifying function. If necessary we will organize another 13 aban ”, that is another sensational blow like that of November 4, 1979, which was decisive in overthrowing the government of Mahdi Bazargan, the first established in the Islamic Republic upon the return of Ayatollah Khomeni to Teheran.

Iran - a Puzzle for Obama

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