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Less Iran-Bashing And More Dialogue, Please

The alternative spells bad news.

18/07/2017 8:33 AM IST | Updated 18/07/2017 8:33 AM IST
Carlos Barria / Reuters
Image used for representational purposes only.

The anti-Iran rhetoric employed by self-serving politicians in the US, mostly aims to cash in on years of built up anti-Iranian sentiments amongst their general public. There is no question that the Islamic regime bears a great deal of responsibility for this precarious situation due to more than three decades of provocative and at times militant behaviour. Nonetheless, it is generally accepted that this situation has been seriously reversed since the departure of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the advent of the Rouhani presidency in 2013.

While many senior world leaders have embraced Iran's new disposition, the same cannot be said of the US, where "Iran bashing" continues to remain a choice option for enhancing one's domestic popularity.

The resulting change in Iran's demeanor has already reduced a major source of international tension as well as Iran's isolation in the aftermath of the nuclear agreement that was concluded with the '5+1' in July 2015. While many senior world leaders have since embraced Iran's new disposition, the same cannot be said of the US, where "Iran bashing"—under whatever circumstance—continues to remain a choice option for enhancing one's domestic popularity.

This kind of disingenuous behaviour on the part of many leading American politicians continues despite "known" realities such as the fact that neither Iran nor any Shiites have ever been involved in any fatal terror attacks carried out in America or Europe. At the same time, these leaders remain solemnly silent about the fact that thousands of American and European citizens in the past two decades have been murdered at the hands of Sunni radicals from "friendly" American "partners" in the Middle East.

Apart from failing to promote better Iran-US ties, the inability on the part of leading US policymakers to shrug off their "Iran-phobic" tendencies—much to the delight of President Rouhani's hardline opponents in Iran—has not only dangerously increased regional tensions but it has also led to new schisms within the Arab world following the ostracising of Qatar and the possible dismantlement of the GCC by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt. Apart from hosting the only Arab media outlet not directly or indirectly controlled by the Saudis, thereby airing "radical views" in support of the "Muslim Brotherhood", Qatar's other alleged main folly has been its failure to adopt a hostile posture towards Iran.

[T]heir "Iran-phobic" tendencies—much to the delight of President Rouhani's hardline opponents in Iran—has not only dangerously increased regional tensions but it has also led to new schisms within the Arab world...

This sorry state of affairs descends to the ridiculous when a number of leading US political figures such as Senator John McCain, Mayor Rudi Giuliani and Ambassador John Bolton accept dubious speaking engagements and openly call for the overthrow of the Iranian regime, expressing their unswerving support for a much-despised cult organisation (the Mojahedin Khalq or MEK). It is interesting to note that while these people keep blasting Iran for being the foremost "state sponsor of terrorism"—at a time when everyone acknowledges that non-state actors such as ISIS and Al Qaeda present the main international threat from terrorism—they are somehow "induced" to overlook the past history of their generous hosts who until recently were on the US (and EU) list of terrorist organisations and bear direct responsibility for murdering Americans in Iran.

Today, the priority must surely lie in trying to defuse the dangerous crisis confronting the Middle East from North Africa to Syria, Yemen and the Persian Gulf. Only through dialogue and compromise—to start with between Iran and Saudi Arabia—can the escalation of the current crisis and the dangerous "war of words" in the Persian Gulf region and the Middle East be contained. At a time when the Iranians have repeatedly indicated their desire for such talks, it would be a mistake for "Iran-phobic" politicians in the US to jeopardise regional peace and stability by tacitly supporting intransigent Arabs and Israelis, bent on demonising and punishing Iran at any cost.

"[P]ost-revolution, evolutionary Iran" (i.e. with radicalism on the wane and political reform on the rise) is much more on the right side of history than most others in the region...

The West, in particular the US, also needs to show greater appreciation for the fact that "post-revolution, evolutionary Iran" (i.e. with radicalism on the wane and political reform on the rise) is much more on the right side of history than most others in the region—irrespective of how many arms they buy. Also the failure of democracy following the "Arab Spring" is not a justification for perpetuating autocracy. Hence, it is highly important for all in the West to encourage and promote regional dialogue while keeping a balanced position between the quarreling sides that is cognizant of their legitimate interests.

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