|Iran not negotiating from a position of weakness: NY Times||
TEHRAN – The United States would be naive to assume that Iran is negotiating from a position of weakness and negotiations between the two cannot be based on threatening Iran into submission, according to an article published on the website of the New York Times on Wednesday.
Following are excerpts of the text of the article entitled ‘America Mustn’t Be Naive About Iran’, written by Vali R. Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:
Last week’s charm offensive by Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, and his seeming show of flexibility augurs well for a diplomatic resolution.
But America would be naive to assume that Iran is negotiating from a position of weakness. To the contrary, Iran has come out of the Arab Spring better positioned than any of its regional rivals, and the turmoil in Syria, its ally, has paradoxically strengthened it further. Witness Mr. Rouhani’s statements that distinguished Iran from its Arab neighbors and asserted that it was uniquely positioned to broker a resolution.
Over the past five years America has thought that only an Iran weakened by economic sanctions would agree to a nuclear deal.
Iran’s diplomatic flexibility is serious, but should not be mistaken for willingness to surrender.
Iran does not see itself as vanquished. Its political system is still the most steadfast and resilient in the region. It is reveling in a newfound stability on the back of a surprisingly smooth presidential election.
Arab anger notwithstanding, there is agreement across the region that Iranian support for Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has been effective. That consensus buttresses Iran’s claim to regional power and influence.
Hope that Turkey and America’s Arab allies would form an alliance that would isolate Iran has not come to pass. Those allies have been divided over what to do with Egypt, and now Syria. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are bickering over whom to support in Syria. Saudi support for Egypt’s generals, who ousted the democratically elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, has alienated Turkey, which supported Mr. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, now outlawed. For decades the Persian Gulf monarchies bought the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. Now the Islamists and the (Persian) Gulf rulers are competing for support of the Sunni Arab world. This gives Iran a strategic opportunity to exploit its role as a regional power broker.
…as America approaches talks with Iran over its nuclear program, it must not assume that Iran is ready to surrender.
America will be going to the negotiating table without the credible threat of war, facing an Iran basking in newfound domestic stability and benefiting from its pivotal role in Syria. Negotiations between the two, for the first time, cannot be based on threatening Iran into submission, but on persuading it to compromise. That demands of America an approach to match the “heroic flexibility” that (Iran’s Supreme Leader) Ayatollah (Ali) Khamenei has called for.
Expect no grand bargain with Iran in the short run, but rather, the lifting of specific sanctions in exchange for concrete steps to slow down Iran’s nuclear program… That would be an important first step, which could build bilateral trust and give diplomacy the impetus it needs to succeed.
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