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« Een nieuwe lente en een nieuw geluid: ... 19.3.07 [NL] | Main | And If an Iranian Nuclear Bomb Were Good for Peace? »

Iran: US lost in contradictions

Seymour Hersh' revelations about the war preparations against Iran by the White House and the Pentagon, correct as they certainly were, refer to a former stage in the desperate housewives' story of how US foreign and security policy under George W. Bush is being made.

The ousting of Rumsfeld, the marginalization of Cheney and his cabal, gave an opening to the State Department to make a North Korea deal. Cheney pestered against it, but apparently cannot make it undone. He is touring the Middle East at this moment, trying to align Sunni guerrillas against the Iraq (and Iran) Shiites, with Saudi help.

A disastrous policy, inspired by the success of the Taliban against the Russians in Afghanistan, when they were supported by the CIA and the Pakistani ISI. We all know what came out of that: Terrorism, Bin Laden, and an unwinnable civil war in South East Afghanistan, where NATO is engaged at this moment.

This is the background against which a Washington melodrama unfolded this week. An Iraqi Government initiative, to bring together regional and global players in Baghdad (10 March and somewhere in April) in order to discuss stability in the Iraq region, will bring together the US and Iran at one table for the first time since 2003. The State Department, Wednesday, suggested strongly, that bilateral talks were not excluded. A détente? - No! The day after, the White House stated that (Financial Times of London, 1.3.07):

"There will not be bilateral talks between the United States and Iran or the United States and Syria, within the context of these meetings," said Tony Snow, the White House spokesman. The US precondition re-mained unchanged, he said, that Iran first suspend its uranium enrichment programme as called for by the United Nations Security Council.

"We want to make sure those waters don't get muddied," he said.

Engaging Syria and Iran in stabilizing the region, was one of the main conclusions of the Iraq Study Group last November. I guess that Rice has been a little bit too fast in applying her North Korean recipe to the more sensible Iraq imbroglio. Bush needs time to turn his Iraq catastrophe into something less ugly. That is what most observers think (FT):

Some analysts interpreted the mixed signals as evidence that the Bush administration was more interested in using the appearance of diplomacy to appease domestic critics and get its supplemental Iraq war budget through Congress, rather than adopt one of the key findings of the Iraq Study Group, which was to engage Iran and Syria directly. However, other analysts believed that Ms Rice was in fact trying to shift the US position in the direction of engagement with Iran, as has happened in recent weeks with North Korea, culminating with the nuclear freeze agreement reached in Beijing last month.

"It creates confusion, and when the Iranians are confused they are paralysed," commented Ray Takeyh, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank who believes Ms Rice is anxious to engage Iran in talks.

I believe that the new American attempt to become an arbitrator (again) in Iraq by reinforcing the Sunnis, if necessary by having sent in Salafist terrorists, comes too late. The growing internal and international pressure to abandon the damaging US refusal to engage in diplomatic exchanges with key players in a region where they have invested so much (and where they stand to loose so much), will gain the upper hand, before eventually Cheney's terrorists will be able to turn Iraq into an anti-Iranian American stooge like it was in the eighties under Saddam Hussein.

Cheney will soon come to regret the ousting of his old buddy Saddam!

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