Friday, December 15, 2006

"Unprecedented secret letter to the White House"

Scott Peterson, of the Christian Science Monitor, addresses the potential help Iran could provide in Iraq. Not the change in tone identified with a secret letter in 2003. I had never heard of this correspondence (my emphasis):
Earlier this year, both Washington and Tehran approved Iraq-specific talks between their officials in Baghdad, though none are known to have occurred. More recently, Bush has spoken disparagingly of bringing Iran into the Iraq equation.

"Fundamentally, the Bush administration refuses to have comprehensive talks with the Iranians," says a Western diplomat, noting that US officials continue to say that Iran is a top state sponsor of terrorism and that its nuclear-power program is a cover to build atomic weapons. Iran rejects those charges. "[But] even if you plan to get in some sort of contact, it makes sense to say 'never,' " as an initial bargaining stance, says the diplomat.

The White House has wanted to limit any dialogue with Iran to Iraq, or, in a separate offer last June, to the nuclear file. But as Iraq has deteriorated, and the demand for talks with Iran has intensified, Iran feels increasingly that it can demand much in exchange.

James Baker, co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, which met with Javad Zarif, Iran's ambassador to the UN, has downplayed the likelihood of Iran's assistance.

"We're not naive enough to think that in this case [Iran] may want to help. They probably don't," Mr. Baker testified to Congress last week. "The president authorized me to approach the Iranian government. I did so. And they in effect said ... we would not be inclined to help you this time around."

Iran's price, analysts here say, could be a broader package that would, at the least, include ending action by the UN Security Council to draft a sanctions resolution over Iran's nuclear issue.

Iran may expect the US to accept its determination to continue enriching uranium, something the White House says must be suspended before talks. Recognition of the regime, after 27 years of estrangement, and a guarantee that Iran will not be a military target, are top priorities as well.

"I have no doubt, that if there is a serious attempt by the US administration for a comprehensive resolution of the problems between Iran and the US, Iran would be more than ready to help," says Nasser Hadian-Jazy, a political scientist at Tehran University. "But it is not going to be just about Iraq. Iran would be much more willing to do more, if it knew there is going to be a comprehensive [deal] with the US."

This calculus in Tehran represents a dramatic turnaround from the spring of 2003, when Iran's clerical leadership worried that they were "next" after Iraq on the target list for regime change.

Feeling vulnerable, Iran sent an unprecedented secret letter to the White House, offering to talk about everything from its controversial nuclear program to support for Hizbullah and Hamas militants.

But the Bush team dismissed the offer, and even scolded the Swiss ambassador in Tehran at the time for passing the message on. Today, with the US bogged down in Iraq and looking for a facesaving way out, it is the Iranians who want to define the terms of any cooperation.

They often cite Afghanistan in 2001, when Iran helped the US defeat the Taliban and push out Al Qaeda with extensive intelligence and diplomatic aid, only to be labeled part of the "axis of evil" weeks later.

"It's a game. We think the US wants to use Iranian power to solve their problem in Iraq before the presidential election in 2008," says Mr. Mohebian. "After victory ... then it will be back to the old 'axis of evil.' "

A final Iranian decision will await more signals from the US, because "up to now, we hear only slogans," says Mohebian. "We don't want to look to the mouths of US leaders, but at their hands. After helping in Afghanistan, what was the result? It only helped the radicals in Iran."

Iran and the US share an interest in a stable Iraq that remains intact and is no longer a breeding ground for extremists, Iranian analysts say. But the Afghanistan case has made the regime uncertain.

"Now, if Iran helps the US contain the violence in Iraq, and [afterward the US] has a free hand, then 'OK, we're going to bomb you now. You are the next target,' " says Mr. Hadian-Jazy. "They should know which road they are putting a step in. They want to be sure."

Iran can't bring stability to Iraq, but it can use its influence - especially with fellow Shiites who run the embattled government - to ease the sectarian violence and help forge a unity government.

"The situation wouldn't be worse if Iran said it would help," says a European diplomat. "But the question is: How much better would it be?"

"[Iran] sees all this as pieces of a great big game, [and] the price will continue going up as the situation gets worse," says the diplomat. "The American request would include intelligence help - and this is very uncommon - [because Iranian] eyes and ears on the ground are the best in Iraq."


Blogger Chuck said...

It appears several Senators have decided they are better able to conduct foriegn policy than President Bush. Senators Nelson and Kerry are going to the middle east to vist the troops in Iraq and since they are there anyway to talk with Assad in Syria. Kerry said he would like to meet with Iran's president.

First congress puts together a committee of non experts to study the Iraq issue and submit a report full of platitudes and superflous recommendations, now we have senators freelancing in foriegn policy. The last time I looked, the president is the one who conducts foriegn affairs.

I sincerely hope the senators will be snubbed by the troops and if they go to Iran, are taken hostage. Kerry most of all. I think he should have been tried for treason long ago.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Publia said...

The Democrats are lusting over the White House because they can't wait to cozy up to their new best-friends in Israel-hating Middle East.

We are back on the track of those English who, prior to World War II, thought the Nazis jolly good. Plenty of Third Reichers must have gotten out and gone to the Mideast where they continued their rhetoric of hate. Can there be any other explanation?

It's been popular to hate the Jews throughout history, and I guess this is no exception but I am agape at who is leading the charge. There is a pious and serious penumbra. Of course, no one does pious and serious better than Kerry, but the number of Democrats who can't wait to make friends quickly with anyone in the Mideast who will have 'em, is incomprehensible to me.

What I simply cannot understand is the number of Jews who think all of this is jolly good. Are they trendies? Just a few years ago the watch-word was "never again." They convinced me. But for the long term, they must not have convinced themselves.

Strategy aside, a very evil situation is developing. But I suppose your pal, Sun Tzu would speak of the Dao if he were here. That is something that states like Iran simply don't have, despite the fact they think they are on a mission from God, so all may not be lost.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“Earlier this year, both Washington and Tehran approved Iraq-specific talks between their officials in Baghdad, though none are known to have occurred. More recently, Bush has spoken disparagingly of bringing Iran into the Iraq equation.”

More Neocon faux news passing for sensational scoop

The truth is that 70% of the members of the current “pro-Western” Iraqi government were raised and schooled in Teheran and Qom, and are card-carrying members of The Daawah Party (the party of Islamist Predication and Combat) or SCIRI (The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq), two overtly pro-Iranian terrorist grouped that President Reagan rightly viewed as enemies of America.

After toppling Saddam’s secular Baath party (led by US-educated Christians and Sunnis), the Neocon chose to bring to power notoriously pro-Iranian Islamic fundamentalists: to prepare for that fateful “democratic” transition from Saddam’s Westernized Iraqi government to a Barbarian Islamist regime, some “secret” envoys of Rumsfeld and Cheney had even gone to Teheran as early as 2001 to meet with Iraqi opposition leaders and their Iranian handlers and to gather “proofs” on Saddam’s imaginary WMD programs …etc.

These guys having talking, scheming, and holding “Iraq-specific talks” for more than five years!

6:26 AM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

“Doc, I really appreciated that comment on the Iran parties in control of the Eastern parts of Iraq.

Thanks for the compliment senor C.E.!

Like in the good old days of last summer when I had more time for blogging, I took my inspiration from your enlightened post itself…

One remark though- or two or three actually:

- The pro Iranian thugs now in control of all of the East and South of Iraq, as well as half of the capital Bagdad, plus two thirds of the key ministries including Defense, Finance and Interior/Police

- This rise of the radical Shiite terrorist group actually happened before the very eyes (some might say under the guidance of) Rumsfeld, Cheney, Hadley and their Israeli civilian “advisers” (some would say handlers…but treason has ceased to be a crime in Bush’s America)

- Over the past 3 years, Iraq’s US-educated Sunni and Christian (think Tareq Aziz) civil servants and military officers were systematically jailed and persecuted by Tommy Franks, Paul Bremmer and other hapless agents of Zion obsessed with “De-Baathification” as if 21st Baghdad was Berlin circa 1945

Now we have to pay the price for their follies as the most secular/Westernized players in the Sunni world (a fifth of mankind) are marginalized and disenfranchised, while the most anti-Western elements in the Sunni-Arab world (the Saudi royal family and its Lebanese puppets, the Pakistani military-industrial complex, Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza, Egypt’s Islamic Brotherhood, Somalia’s warring “judges”) call the shots

The world is rapidly turning into a boiling cauldron while our President keeps on doing “a heck of a job”: truly we live in sinister times my dear C.E.

7:32 PM  

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