Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hardliners In Tehran and Washington Play Ping Pong

Arash Mottamed, Rooz Online:
Bush’s threatening words against Iran last week, and the harsh response of some of Iranian political and military officials has heightened the tensions between the two countries and aligns the two countries at a dangerous confrontation. Even the use of different Persian words for terrorism, did not lower the tensions. READ MORE

While G.W. Bush’s confrontational words have surprised many analysts here, as he called the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran a rogue, despotic and terrorist system. In a related news, according to news agencies Bush has also said that God wanted him to attack Iraq and Afghanistan and to free these nations from the two despots. Bush implicitly made presented a similar outcome for Iran. “God has even spoken to me about the Middle East,” Bush said “and asked me to change it so that there would be no room for terrorist there.”

In his recent speech on terrorism, Bush made three direct references to Iran and accused it of supporting terrorism and attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

Following his speech, the US State Department supported recent British claims that Iran has had a hand in the recent bombing events in Iraq. According to Arabic Sharq al Awsat DOS (Adam Eveli) spokesperson outlined US strategy against Iran to either convince them to stop their nuclear enrichment or to face international isolation.

Iran’s response has varied.

Dr Ibrahim Yazdi from the Iran Freedom Movement said the following: Mr. Bush said these words so that in view of the psychology of Iranian and Syrian leaders, they would respond in harsher terms so that tensions between these states grow. Mr. Bush is after increasing the tension in this regard.”

The Islamic Republic’s first response was the use of an unconventional term for terrorism in Persian. It used a word that is interpreted to be softer than “terrorism.” Following that, Dr Ali Larijani, the secretary of the National Security Council said “The US does not have the courage to attack Iran.”

But a response, to the liking of Mr. Bush in the words of Yazdi, came from the Passdaran Revolutionary Guards. General Seyed Masoud Jazayeri said “The US and its allies should be aware that any strike against us will be reciprocated against them.” He emphasized that “a new chapter and atmosphere should be created internationally against the US, Germany, France and Britain.” The Passdaran spokesman also said, “passivity against Western aggression carries greater dangers than the dangers that may ensue if our nuclear file goes to the UN Security Council. If the latter happens, while there will be some damage inflicted on us, if managed properly it can even bring us some good, as did the imposed war with Iraq.”

One university professor commented that the “Passdaran is not the organ to respond to US threats. Constitutionally, this is the prerogative of the National Security Council. Such remarks not only have no effect on the policies, they actually push the situation towards further confrontation.”

A veteran Iranian journalist has also said that the intensification of the atmosphere between the US and Iran is in the final analysis not in Iran’s interest. Political observers in Iran have interpreted the deterioration of the atmosphere between Britain and Iran first and now between Iran and the US to be indicative of the new alignments regarding Iran’s nuclear policy issue. In this regard the words of Iran’s Foreign Minister on his return from the five Persian Gulf states that he just visited demonstrate that Iran has remained in its call for a change in the terms of the IAEA resolution, with the goal of continuing its enrichment activities. The US on the other hand, continues to call for a complete halt of all Iranian nuclear activities. Europe continues to call for the resumption of talks with Iran. These differing views will come to a conclusion in about two months when the IAEA will meet again to make a decision on the issue. Iran wants to maintain the fuel cycle. Iranian military officials have said that they are prepared to stick to their guns if Iran is taken to the UN Security Council. This direction seems to be to the liking of the US as well.

While Ibrahim Yazdi believes that “If Iran’s case goes to the UN Security Council, it will definitely not be good for us,” a Passdaran spokesman believes that being taken there may “even have some benefits for the country.”