Iranian election provides golden opportunity for peacemaking
June 27, 2013
Foreign Affairs Branch
The recent election of Hassan Rouhani to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the President of Iran bodes well for improved relations between the United States and Tehran. Rouhani is the most moderate of all the candidates and was something of a surprise winner in a contest that by all accounts was open and above board—not like the rigged 2009 election which incited massive protests and a draconian governmental response of arrests and violence.Rouhani has promised to release members of the Green Movement arrested in the post-2009 election clamp down, and also offering an olive branch to the U.S. government by calling the standoff between the U.S. and Iran a “old wound that needs to be healed” and promised that, on the nuclear program, Iran is “ready to show more transparency and make it clear for the whole world that measures of the Islamic Republic of Iran are fully in the international frames.”
Rouhani’s experience as a nuclear negotiator lends credence to his calls for a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue, and the fact that he was elected decisively is a strong signal that the Iranian people are supporting change, moderation, and diplomacy.
The United States would be foolish to ignore these overtures and this opening for a change in relationship with Iran’s leadership. The election of Rouhani is a golden opportunity for that shouldn’t be squandered. The economic sanctions that the U.S. and its allies have imposed should be lifted immediately to give Rouhani some political cache, yet there are several hawkish Congressmen like Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) who are pushing for legislation that would bar the U.S. from lifting the sanctions. If the U.S. continues with its heavy-handed tactics, it will only feed the extremist factions of Iran who will have seen no benefit from electing a moderate.
On the other hand, Iran’s decision to send 4000 Revolutionary Guard troops to support Assad’s army in Syria (apparently made before the elections) shows that the real power in Iran’s foreign policy lies with the Supreme Leader Khamenei. The recent decisions of Russia to provide anti-aircraft weapons to Syria, the U.S. positioning of thousands of troops in Jordan, combined with Obama’s decision to provide arms to the rebels, Israel’s bombing of Syrian assets, and Iran’s decision to send in troops are all very dangerous signals that portend an expansion of hostilities, and give one the feeling that it is going to get much, much worse before it gets better.
The Green Shadow Cabinet calls on all parties to cease providing weapons, advisors, and troops to the Syrian government and rebel forces. It is imperative that the global community takes steps to deescalate the Syrian civil war, a conflict which threatens to erupt into a regional or world war if current White House policies continue.