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The Road To Tehran Does Not Go Through Baghdad

By Niki Akhavan


During the December 6th press conference with the members of the Iraq Study Group, a gum chewing, lip-balm applying James Baker was asked why Iranians would agree to come to a negotiation table to talk about Iraq if the nuclear question was not part of such discussions. “Why did they agree to come to the table and talk about Afghanistan without talking about the nuclear issue?”, Mr. Baker responded, “They did and they helped us, and it was important.”[1]


Indeed, the Iranians did provide support for the U.S. operations to overthrow the Taliban. As everyone knows, Iran was rewarded for its cooperation by being named as the third member of an “axis of evil”. Since then, the rhetoric and hostility against Iran has continued unabated. The U.S. administration has on various occasions openly pledged millions of dollars for supporting regime change in Iran. Self-styled Iranian student leaders are pampered and paraded before congress to deliver messages identical to that of the administration. Meanwhile, student activists in Iran working for independent change from inside the country, languish in prison and pay the price for the Bush agenda-driven interferences in Iran’s affairs.


The multi-pronged attack against Iran has not been limited to misguided interventions in the name of human rights and democracy. That Iran is being deliberately demonized is evident in the rush to connect Iran to every perceived evil in the world. For example, in spite of Iran’s long standing enmity with Al-Qaeda and its detention of a number of high ranking Al-Qaeda members, it has been accused of supporting and cultivating the organization in Iran, Iraq, and Somalia. Does anyone remember the ludicrous accusations that Iran was supporting Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi? Perhaps a better question is if anyone even remembers Al-Zarqawi.


In any case, if the U.S. administration and mainstream press have fickle memories when it comes to all things Middle East, one can be certain that the Iranian government does not. That is why Mr. Baker is probably correct in observing that Iran is not “chomping at the bit to come to the table with us to talk about Iraq[2]. Given what has followed since Iran’s assistance with the administration’s post 9/11 war plans, Iran has no basis for assuming that its cooperation on this issue will be met with anything other than the usual contempt. In fact, Iran’s participation in any such talks would most likely only be used to underline the accusation that Iran is involved in aggravating the bloodshed in Iraq. Only a masochistic and irrational regime would put itself in such a position, and the Iranian state is far too clever to step into the trap that has been set up for it.


In order for the U.S. government to engage Iran productively, it must agree to meet Iran about Iran. The Bush administration should save itself the million dollars and the nine months that may go towards an “Iran Study Group” and accept the idea that unconditional, direct negotiations with Iran are not only fundamental in resolving the manufactured conflict with that nation, but are also necessary for setting the foundations for a peaceful Middle East.


About the author:

Niki Akhavan is a board member of the U.S. chapter of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).





... Payvand News - 12/7/06 ... --

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