IRAN: by Joseph PoprzecznyNews Weekly
US conciliatory approach to Tehran backfires
, June 27, 2009
Iran's disputed election outcome represents a major foreign policy setback for the Obama Administration, which has adopted a conciliatory approach towards the hard-line 30-year-old Islamic republic, reports Joseph Poprzeczny.The foreign media and Western leaders have been preoccupied with the question of whether or not Iran's recent election was fraudulent. But Iranian elections are essentially farcical events since, irrespective of who is declared victor, the real power always remains with the chief Ayatollah (Supreme Leader) - currently Ali Khamenei - and his 12-mullah member Council of the Guardians.
Teheran's hard-line mullahs and the security-military establishment allied to incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not willing to give up power.Rejection
Gregory Copley AM, director of the Perth-based think-tank, Future Directions International (FDI), says the decision to declare Ahmadinejad and his backers the victors means that Tehran has overwhelmingly rejected the Obama Administration's attempt "to create a new US relationship with Iran".
He writes: "Not only did President Obama support the losing candidate, former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, who served as the fifth and last Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1981 to 1989, he sought a dialogue which President Ahmadinejad had rejected.
"Significantly, although the Western media construed President Obama's direct appeal to the Iranian public in his Cairo speech to the Muslim world, on June 4, as an opening from Washington to Tehran, it may well have had the opposite effect: it may have appeared as a sign of US weakness; that the US no longer could effectively threaten and cajole.
"More than that, President Obama spoke of 'the Gulf', code for appeasing language to appeal to the Saudi Arabians who refuse to use the historical geographical term, the 'Persian Gulf,' instead often referring to the water as 'the Arabian Gulf'. This certainly won no friends for Washington in Iran."
Copley says that the Khamenei-led ruling clerical establishment now felt invigorated and willing to more firmly confront the West in general, and the United States in particular, on issues such as nuclear weapons development and consolidation of Iranian political and military penetration of Israel's northern and southern neighbours, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
America will consequently continue being seen as a "paper tiger", a world power that's unable to grapple with Middle Eastern realities.
During the entire George W. Bush and Richard Cheney years, Ahmadinejad regularly claimed they were atypical American leaders and that those succeeding them would revert to Jimmy Carter-style appeasement, due in large part to difficulties the US encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Last year, Copley wrote in the Washington-based International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA)'s monthly journal, Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis
(November 7, 2008): "The warmth of the global reception to the election of Senator Barack Obama to the Presidency in the polls of November 4, 2008, does not augur a new era of close cooperation between the world's lesser powers and the United States of America. Rather, the reverse.
"The US is now an economic power, but its power - already in decline in real terms for the past two dozen years - can now be ignored in many respects. The states of the world are going their own way; they will play with the US when it suits them. They will look Washington in the eye, and turn away when they wish."
Several other complications have also arisen. Saudi Arabia is presently being targeted both covertly and overtly by the Iranian Government's various military and ideological agencies. This includes backing for the so-called "Republic of Eastern Arabia".
According to Copley, Saudi sources have confirmed that, since the announcement of the "Republic of Eastern Arabia" in May, significant levels of capital have flown out of Saudi Arabia to "safe" destinations in Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the Middle East.
He observes, "Many Saudi élite have made contingency plans for new lives abroad.
"The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will feel more empowered to act without the support of the US in finding its [Israel's] own mechanisms for dealing with what it feels is an existential threat from Iran. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was, by June 13, 2009, already in Moscow meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, rebuilding the Russian-Israeli alliance. ...
"Russia, albeit tenuously, holds the most sway of any foreign power in Iran, and controls the regional (Central Asia-Caucasus-Black Sea) energy distribution pattern. Israel recognises this, and, as with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and others, understands the need to shift some priorities in relationships from Washington to Moscow.
"More indirectly, the impotence of America, which Iran has forced into the public glare, will impact on its influence globally."