July 23, 2008

Just Ahmadinejad can do it


by: Sadegh Zibakalam

I do firmly believe that Iran-US relations' most significant transition which is to emerge is due to the presidency of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Truth is that having diplomatic relations with US is more of a taboo in Iran which may only get broken by a tradition-minded, conservative figure. No one may come to bring about a state of détente, negotiate with US and normalize Iran-US relations, save Ahmadinejad himself. We have not yet forgotten McFarlane event (when Imam was alive) and Mr. Hashemi's efforts to revive Iran-US relations; however, conservatives' powerful hands impeded those efforts and McFarlane event came to standstill. In the period of Mr. Hashemi's presidency, Mohajerani (then advisor to Mr. Hashemi) published a column in Ettela'at daily regarding Iran-US relations, which was much more diluted compare to current expressions of Mr. Ahmadinejad; but conservatives' reaction was so tough that he got forced to publicly apologize. Even when Mr. Khatami, in an interview with Christian Amanpour (CNN correspondent), said some relatively fine things about US, psychological pressures of conservatives forced him to utter some harsh words regarding US just few days later in Imam Khomeini's mausoleum. I think that Ahmadinejad is the only person who may bring about a state of détente. During his presidency, this potential vision has evolved into a practical one. He easily speaks of taking photos with an American commander and his deputy in Iraq, and more easily states that 'if we receive any formal request regarding opening US consulate in Tehran, we will consider it seriously', and such stances do not lead to any reaction from either media or others. I believe that Mr. Ahmadinejad's powerful proponents in the regime make him bold enough to freely speak of having relations with US and even march toward bringing about a state of détente and normalizing the relations. Other side of the coin is US. Current evidences suggest that Barack Obama may win presidential elections. However, I doubt it, for I think that 'Silent Majority' of US voters, who constitute 20-30 percent of voters, have not decided to vote for whom and will decide just few nights before final elections, and they are more likely to vote for McCain only to avoid an African-American finding his way to White House. I hope this is not going to happen. After all, if Obama is to become next US president, vision of normalizing relations with US will be much brighter than ever.


Sadegh Zibakalam is a leading reformist author and professor of political sciences in Tehran University. This paper was published last week in Shahrvande Emrooz (today citizen), leading reformist weekly.

1 comment:

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