[Reprinted with the author’s permission. Reformatted for Antiwar.com.]
Iran’s newly elected president will take office on August 3, and negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program are expected to begin in early September. In the interim, intense and possibly important debates are taking place within the US policy-making elite about whether developments in Syria and Iran should prompt the United States to make more positive and creative diplomatic approaches toward Tehran.
Among the most important efforts for a more positive diplomatic effort by the United States is a statement urging such an approach signed by (as of today) 131 members of the House of Representatives, the largest number of signatories ever received by a “pro-Iran-negotiations” congressional effort. Among the 131 signers were a majority of the House Democrats. Also, on July 15 a letter signed by 29 “former policymakers, diplomats, military officials, and experts” called on President Obama to recognize the opportunities for diplomacy signaled by Rouhani’s victory in Iran’s presidential election. Both of these documents, along with some discussion, are linked below.
Needless to say, the “bomb Iran” crowd hasn’t taken this lying down. Their most significant effort came in an appearance by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” which the New York Times echo chamber immediately characterized as “Israel Increases Pressure on U.S. to Act on Iran” (the statement by a majority of the governing party was not characterized by The Times as putting pressure on anybody). I’ve linked several good/useful analyses of Israel’s post-(Iran) election dilemmas below.
I’ve also linked several good/useful articles on essays on Iran’s election (free and fair?); the significance of the election for Iranian politics, and what we might expect/hope for from a Rouhani presidency in terms of relations with the United States.
Along with Iran’s president election, the other event that may pressure the United States and its allies toward a nuclear accommodation with Iran is the apparently unstoppable disaster in Syria. Again this week we learned of further disarray among the Syrian armed opposition, with the United States and the United Kingdom now hesitating to act on their stated intentions to send arms to the opposition, uncertain how to navigate among the more than 1,000 armed groups now active in Syria.
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