Sunday November 07, 2010
President Obama was elected with an agenda that included dialogue with the clerics in Tehran. That agenda backfired with the Islamic Republic’s unwillingness to engage in a dialogue, and an unexpected Iranian national uprising in June 2009 disputing the rigged elections results and the theocratic regime as a whole.
Since then, the Obama Administration has had to feel its way around the sensitive and very relevant issue of an “Islamic” versus a “secular” Iran – a key country for balance of power in the region.
This week’s sweeping victory of the grassroots and conservative movements in U.S. put a screeching halt to many of President Obama’s radical plans for America. The U.S. election results were not only significant for the American people, but also for citizens of many other countries whose livelihood is directly or indirectly affected by American politics.
In that regard, it is not only the Americans, who are anxious to see what will happen with their recent political “firing and hiring” results as Washington is now posed to alter its course. U.S. allies and foes alike are also wondering what will this mean on an international level. Further, putting aside governments, many peoples across the world such as the majority of Iranians fighting for their civil rights, who regard America as a source of inspiration, are wondering what now?
The recent U.S. elections were clearly based on the American peoples’ frustrations and concerns with domestic issues, but domestic issues and financial burdens on Americans were greatly affected by terrorist acts not only on American soil, but across the world. Let’s not forget that supporting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are very costly and burdensome, and the best strategists always advise that wars should come to a favorable conclusion as soon as possible.
The results of the recent elections reflect the failures of the Obama Administration in both domestic and international arenas. For example, in its handling of Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China, the Administration has not made any progress. The President’s approach to terrorism has failed and the Administration could go back to the policies during the Bush era.
Even the European allies and world opinion, in general, have lost their zeal for this Administration’s vision. A leader, who is deemed weak domestically, is also taken less seriously with respect to international matters.
The Republicans have enough strength now to block the President despite his veto power. President Obama will not be able to continue pressuring Israel. It is assumed President Obama will move to the center-right in order for any laws to pass, or to have any hopes in retaining some Democratic power in 2012. At this juncture, the President can focus on an important international issue such as Iran since historically when leaders have problems with domestic policies they turn their attention to foreign affairs.
Given that Islamist terrorists have stepped up their activities in recent weeks and the clerics in Tehran continue their pursuit of nuclear weapons and support of the radicals, how will the recent elections affect the U.S.-Iran relation? Will it help the strong and unified Iranian national uprising against an Islamic regime, or much to the detriment of world peace, will the regime be somehow contained or attacked for short-term goals?
Dr. Assad Homayoun, a former Iranian diplomat and President of Azadegan Foundation, says there are many options for U.S. regarding Iran. Dialogue can be pursued, but it will be useless. Sanctions have been important in weakening the regime in Tehran and increasing unrest among the people, but U.S. rivals such as China and Russia even Turkey are willing to make deals with the clerics in power. As an unwelcome and rejected option by Iranians and opposition groups, war continues to be on the table.
President Obama will note that the majority of U.S. allies, the American people, and the new conservative Congress are supportive of a military strike, Homayoun observed. In his recent remarks at the Halifax International Security forum, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham stated that the U.S. should “neuter” the regime in Tehran, if there is to be a military strike to stop its nuclear program aspirations. Specifically, Senator Graham listed the air force, navy, and Revolutionary Guards as main targets for a decisive blow to ensure the regime’s inability to function. Unfortunately for Iran, any military strike against its reckless and suicidal regime will put the country and its people in danger. Further, a strike against Iran may “balkanize” the region, a situation best avoided given its long-term ramifications.
Iran also has options, Homayoun said. The most ideal is for Iranian people to gather around a strong, acceptable, patriotic and truly nationalist leader, who can also gain credibility with international community in overthrowing the Islamic regime. In the absence of such a charismatic and capable individual, Iranians still have a way to save their country from devastation – the Armed Forces option.
Homayoun said the Revolutionary Guards, who control all aspects of Iran and are the center of power, can rise up against the dictatorial regime and in support of their people and country. Although the Revolutionary Guards are the shield of the despised regime, its members are from among the Iranian people. Many of them have not participated in the crimes and human rights violations committed against their fellow countrymen and women by outside forces brought in by the regime.
Dr. Homayoun also emphasized that during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the Revolutionary Guards played an important role in defending the nation against Saddam Hussein’s brutal invasion. There are many patriots among their ranks. Further, the Revolutionary Guards will note any military attack on Iran which likely will first target them. The Revolutionary Guards should not be robots for the hated regime. If they do not support their people in changing the power equation in Iran, they will have a similar fate as those special armed forces, who protected the dictatorships in Romania and Iraq. Therefore, to save their country from disintegration and potential civil war as well as self-preservation, they can and should rise in support of their nation’s culture, history and people. With one heroic act, the Revolutionary Guards can change their own destiny, gain respect, and shift the direction of international affairs.
Given the importance of a secular, balanced Iran in a volatile region, it is hoped that President Obama and the new conservative Congress will invest their energy and time in seriously promoting the Iranian people, so the country is posed to either rally behind a nationalist and secular leader from within or in exile, or the Revolutionary Guards whose primary goal should be the safety and survival of their country. In this regard, it will be the most effective and logical solution for U.S. resulting in major domestic improvements the American people have clearly listed as their primary concern.
Sheda Vasseghi is on the Board of Azadegan Foundation and is a regular contributor to WorldTribune.com
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