Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Post #124 -- ...or Is It Just Me?

As recently as 2007, Afghan President Mohammad Karzai affirmed that regional cooperation continued, with Iranian support of Afghanistan's development and in combating terrorism and the rampant narcotics trade:

Wolf Blitzer (in a live interview on CNN):

Presidents Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama
President Karzai, is Iran now more helping or hurting? Is it a problem, or a solution?
Karzai: We consider Iran to be a helper, part of the solution.

He reiterated this in late January, 2008: "We have had a particularly good relationship with Iran for the past six years. It's a relationship that I hope will continue. We have opened our doors to them. They have been helping us in Afghanistan."

Indeed, the Iraqi president has echoed this same sentiment, despite the fact that his government has been dependent on our own for its day-to-day survival. Indian defense minister A. K. Antony, too, said, "India has very friendly relations with Iran. It will continue to do so. India's friendship will not come in the way of good relations with any other country [in an obvious reference to our own government]." In fall of 2007, at a meeting of the five countries that border the Caspian Sea (Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran), there was agreement that a military attack on Iran should be opposed. None of the Caspian nations, said Vladimir Putin, should allow themselves to be used as staging areas for "aggressive or military operations against another Caspian State." (As reported in the Washington Post of October 16 of that year).

Blogger (and retired Army sergeant) Timothy Gatto has pointed out that the people of the neighboring countries Pakistan, Turkey Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – though not on good terms with Iran – do not favor a military solution, as “the blowback from an attack on Iran would be devastating.” The Chinese, too, have urged "strategic patience" in dealing with Iran; according to Zbigniew Brzezinski they favor a focus on "jointly negotiating a formula" that avoids the weapons option, without challenging Iran's honor. Late in 2007, Iranian senior officials met with leaders from the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and Ahmadinezhad became the first Iranian president to be invited to visit Mecca as a pilgrim for the haj. According to a Christian Science Monitor report, "Arab League chief Amr Moussa bluntly state that there was no point in Arabs treating Iran as an enemy." Though concerned about both human rights abuses and nuclear programs, the parliament of the European Union, in January 2008, passed a resolution calling on the United States "to renounce all rhetoric on military options and regime change policies against Iran," and "participate directly in negotiations with Iran along with the EU" (according to the EU's United Nations delegation website). Moreover, the head of the nuclear watchdog agency, IAEA, said in February 2008 that they were making "good progress" in resolving the outstanding issues with Iran and "confidence-building can only be achieved with direct negotiations." President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said in January 2008 (in an interview with Italy's La Repubblica), "This is not the time for resorting to threats or to the use of force. That would serve solely to set the Gulf, the Middle East, and the whole world on fire. What is needed, rather, are dialogue and diplomacy." Is there any reason to think that the leaders who succeeded him will think any differently?

Hisham Kazem
Apparently, it is largely the United States that finds communication and cooperation with Iran anathema, even if we risk war. And what have we gained with our reticence? Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian journalist who was awarded a National Endowment for Democracy award from President Bush in 2007, said a few months later, "America's neither feared nor loved. It's [not] feared by the [Middle Eastern] regimes anymore, and it's hated by the people of the Middle East...That's the Bush legacy."

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