A New US Regional Policy

24 July 2013 | 18:26 Code : 1919015 Review General category
An essay by Dr. Ebrahim Mottaghi, Director of the Political Science Department at Tehran University
A New US Regional Policy

The trends of US foreign policy always take form based on different patterns and should have the necessary capacity to respond to part of the existing view in the underground structures and layers of policy-making in this country. The policy of power and security has a multi-dimensional nature, thus, any group or inclination can pursue part of the signs of power-making and find solutions for its implementation.

On this basis, on July 19th, 2013, 131 representatives of the US Congress, including 17 Republicans and 114 Democrats, issued a statement reiterating the necessity of using models based on compromise and multilateral cooperation with Iran. The main issue of this statement is related to gradual change in Iran’s nuclear policy. In this letter, it is stressed that there is the possibility that the new administration would pursue a process which would not lead to the production of nuclear weapons, and that it would rather create the grounds for international confidence-building and transparency. It must not be forgotten that in this letter, there is no talk of the US accepting Iran’s nuclear capabilities. In the literature related to the nuclear issue, the concept of capability has its own special status. Whenever this term is used, it refers to the necessary substructures for enrichment which prepare the necessary grounds for using nuclear energy in medical services and radiotherapy.

Furthermore, beside the absence of any reference to this issue in the letter, the communication situation between Iran and the US has not been referred to either. But the congressmen have warned the Obama administration in their letter that it should not miss the opportunity to interact with Iran’s new administration. They have mentioned that Iran, in this new era and following the election of the moderate government of Dr. Rohani, would view the issue of interaction with the world differently. Since the view of the new government with regard to international policy will be more constructive, thus, the necessary opportunity will be provided regarding the issue of cooperation with Iran.

In my opinion, this statement is prepared under the influence of four main members of the cabinet meaning Barack Obama, the president, Joe Biden, the vice-president, Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, and John Kerry, the Secretary of State. These four members are the principal members of the US National Security Council. In the US National Security Council, decisions must be made with consensus. These four individuals are those who, a decade ago, were members of the Senate and worked as colleagues who defined parts of the US’ strategic policies. Therefore, a process is forming in US foreign policy and in the main decision-making institutions of this country which is indicative of flexible signals. I consider Obama’s approach with regard to Iran and the recent statement of the 131 Congress representatives, with a bipartisan nature, as a sign of cooperation with Iran. These signals are considered as the first steps on the path of showing changes in the US’ policies with regard to Iran. Whenever processes which are based on fundamental change in US policies are formed, very clear signs manifest in a limited atmosphere.  Therefore, the issue which took form in the House of Representatives on July 19th and the letter that was published must be considered among a collection of signals which form part of the policy-making process in the field of national security in the US.

Nevertheless, in parallel with this positive and constructive measure, we witnessed that a few days ago, new sanctions were adopted n the Congress against Iran. At the same time, on July 1st, a letter was published with the signatures of 43 members of the US Congress who warned White House officials that they should not reduce sanction-based pressures against Iran with the excuse of Rohani’s election. Hence, it seems that two parallel atmospheres are moving together within the decision-making institutions of the US. The Arab and Israeli lobbies attempt to destroy the new atmosphere which has been created following Iran’s election. They make efforts to expand confrontation with Iran within the policy-making atmosphere of the US and direct these contradictions towards Iran’s regional policies so that they can gain their interests in the region.

Therefore, the movement made by more than one fourth of the Congress representatives to interact with Iran must be considered as the beginning of a new move which could have a cooperative nature. But if this move does not lead to desirable results, it would create serious threats for Iran-US relations at the regional and international level. Therefore, in order to bypass the present tense atmosphere, these signals must be transformed into a practical policy. Now the first step has been taken. The next step must be a change in the atmosphere of politics and executive processes in policy-making so that the interests of both countries could be pursued.

Besides this process, John Kerry’s sixth visit to the region since becoming Secretary of State to revive the Middle East peace process must also be considered. Last Friday, he visited Ramallah for the third time in a week and met with Mahmood Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority. It seems that the US’ flexibility with regard to the issue of sanctions against Iran and Iran’s nuclear activities must have a regional purpose. The Americans state that a new regional policy must be on the agenda so that the roadmap process which would lead to the establishment of two states could be obtained. Even messages that were exchanged between Netanyahu and Mahmood Abbas must be considered as signs that the Palestinian government considered under the influence of the US approach with regard to two states and peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Therefore, the US is reviewing its regional policies based on the developments in Syria, Egypt, Iran, and Israel. Meanwhile, the progress made in peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis can be the beginning of this new policy. More signs of this new regional policy will be expected in the near future.

tags: nuclear iran congress kerry rohani abbas obama israel hagel biden syria egypt