December 21, 2012

An Opportunity for a U.S.–Iran Paradigm Shift - Winter 2013

Read, "An Opportunity for a U.S.–Iran Paradigm Shift - Winter 2013," by By Hossein Mousavian.

Source - Center for Strategic and International Studies and The Washington Quarterly:
The former Iranian ambassador argues that the Arab Awakenings have opened an opportunity for Washington and Tehran to seek common interests, but warns that mutual perceptions that the other is weakening could once again lead that opportunity to be missed.
An excerpt from the paper:
"The Arab region today is drenched in chaos and instability: Palestine is bleeding, Iraq burning, Syria erupting, Persian Gulf oil countries are trembling, Lebanon simmering, Afghanistan devastated, and Iran under adversarial focus. An array of unaddressed historical grievances and unresolved disputes add to this chaos. Starting with Tunisia last year, the Arab Street has virtually been under popular siege to break away from long-/brewing political morbidity and authoritarian culture.

America as a superpower has had a longstanding interest in the Middle East, and thus is no stranger to the region. Unfortunately, the continuing U.S. domination in the Middle East /with its flawed policies /is creating strategic imbalances in the region and fueling intra-/regional tensions with serious implications for the overall peace and security of the region. The flawed U.S. polices in the Middle East are already leading to its total alienation from the region’s people. A recent poll /the first of its kind in the region, conducted in twelve Arab countries covering 84 percent of the population of the Arab world /shows 93.75 percent of the people look at the Unites States and Israel as the major threat to their interests.1 Growing anti-/Americanism in the Arab world is no secret.

One historic lesson that the United States must not ‘‘unlearn’’ is that its excessive reliance on undemocratic regimes and authoritarian dictators of the Arab world will not serve its long-/term interests nor promote regional and global stability. The political and social changes now taking shape in the Arab world are an opportunity for the United States to re-/examine its policies and build a new approach toward the region, including Iran. To ensure a successful strategy, Washington needs to divert its investments from the ‘‘palaces’’ to the ‘‘streets’’ of the Middle East. Washington’s paradigm shift would require establishing new relations with ‘‘moderate Islamists’’ within Muslim countries who would facilitate sustainable democracy and a regional security structure. Dialogue and engagement is the only way to build bridges toward a path of peace and tranquility.

The current upheavals in the region, if not managed properly, could erupt into regional chaos of unforeseen proportions and throw the area into perpetual instability. To avert such a scenario, it is essential for the United States and Iran, as the major powerbrokers in the region, to play a constructive role through mutual engagement and cooperation. This will not only serve the respective national interests of both nations but also ameliorate the regional environment. To realize this objective, Washington needs to recognize the legitimate role and interests of Iran in the region. This step would facilitate the United States and Iran to engage in a broader strategy which would address each other’s security objectives and concerns. That would, in turn, ultimately result in a higher probability for Iran and the United States to reach a ‘‘big deal’’ on outstanding bilateral issues, including the nuclear question."