Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where is Iran Headed?

We know that the Islamic Republic and the Bush Administration have agreed to hold talks on Iraq's security and stability. There are two possible outcomes. Either:
A) The talks succed;


B) The talks fail.

A) If the talks on Iraq succeed, and there is some sort of stability and security in Iraq, then it is very likely that the nuclear issue would be resolved as well. In other words, if Iran puts the winning card on the table (security in Iraq), then the United States has a strong incentive to compromise with Iran over the nuclear issue as well.

This viewpoint is built on several assumptions:

i. That Iran can provide the winning card in establishing security and stability in Iraq. Iraq is already on the brink of a full-fledged civil war, and it is highly probable that adding Iran to the picture could even worsen the situation. Adding Iran can intensify the Sunni involvement in supporting the insurgency. A "Cold War" could errupt between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Iraq. In that scenario, the Shii'tes would garner support from Iran & Syria, and the Sunnis from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and even the Occupied Territories.

ii. That Iran is also willing to provide the winning card in Iraq. The Islamic Republic fully comprehends that as long as the United States is bogged down in Iraq it cannot direct a military threat towards Iran. Why would then Iran help the United States to stabilize Iraq so it can then focus its entire energy on challenging Iran? And this brings us to the third, most important, and most problematic assumption behing this possible outcome:

iii. That the United States is willing to finally recognize the Islamic Republic, at least as a semi-legitimate government. The United States asked Iran to help it stablize Iraq. If Iran does this succesfully, its geopolitical position would be significantly enhanced. Is the US ready for this? This brings us to outcome B).

B) The talks on Iraq fail. In that case, Iran would have absolutely nothing in its arsenal. It was given a chance to work with the EU over its nuclear ambitions, and those talks failed; it had a chance to struck a deal with Russia, and it failed; it had a chance to work with the United States over Iraq's security, and it failed again. By then, most of the world would be united against Iran and her ambitions to join the nuclear club.

This view is built on several assumptions as well:

i. That Iran is too weak or incapable to stabilize Iraq. The situtation could have already passed a point of no return. In Iraq, the Sunni's have been ruling over the Shii'tes for the past 1,400 years. Now, for the first time in history, a Shii'te majority is ruling over an Arab country. Add Kurds to the picture, and then ask yourself: how peaceful can one expect this historic transition to be?

ii. That the US is trying to trap Iran. Maybe this is all a US ploy to further isolate Iran internationally. The US backed the EU Big Three's negotiations with Iran knowing fully well that the Big Three could not offer Iran the security garauntees that it needed (not from the EU but from the US). Then the US backed Russia in its negotiations with Iran, also knowing that Iran could not get what it wanted from Russia. In this sense, the US offer to talk to Iran directly can be seen as a 3rd act in isolating Iran. When the talks fail, and Iraq descends into civil war, then the US could come out and say, "look, we gave Iran so many chances, but they're just not willing to work with us. The ruling establishment MUST THEREFORE GO!!!"

Which outcome is more likely in your opinion? And why?
- Ali

wow fabulous blog
i have alot of questions but want to read your article again
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