Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to negotiate with Iran

We last heard from Isam Naaman, Lebanese lawyer and former cabinet minister, when he summarized some of the interesting points that Lebanese think-tank types were hearing from the recent US delegations led by Pelosi and others (including the AlQaeda/false-flag plan among others).

Today he has an op-ed piece in Al-Quds al-Arabi on the coming US-Iran talks, called "America facing two AlQaedas, one Sunni and one Shiite?" He says it isn't realistic to think these talks will be limited to Iraq, in fact, watching Fox news so we don't have to, Naaman notes that Cheney himself appears to be casting a wide net, insisting that Iran not only interferes in Iraq, but also in Lebanon and Syria, adding that he (Cheney) is confident high-level AlQaeda leaders have been in Iran since 2003, and in short: his whole recent trip to the region centered on the position of Iran, and this is not unconnected with its nuclear ambitions. Given this view of Iran, it isn't conceivable that the coming talks will be limited to Iraq. Rather they will have to take up the place of Iran in the whole regional picture. The respective positions taken as a whole seem irreconcilable: Washington wants the Iranian influence in the region to disappear; and Iran wants the US to withdraw fully and completely from Iraq, end its support for the Palestinian occupation, and so on. Naaman breaks the positions down as follows:
If the first priority of George Bush is a face-saving withdrawal from the Iraq, then it will be difficult for president Ahmedinejad to help him in that, unless his adversary concedes to him the right which Iran considers its first priority for the time being, namely the right to enrigh uranium without reservations or threats...
And vice versa, it would be difficult for Bush to concede on Iran's priority without getting his priority. So this would seem to be a puzzle-crisis without a possible solution. Naaman has a suggestion:
However [he writes going back to the Cheney TV interview], the coded remark by Cheney about the presence of AlQaeda in Iran since 2003 adumbrates a future possible solution to the crisis. How? By bringing the two sides back to an agreement that AlQaeda constitutes a serious, clear, and present threat to both of them. Because Iran was pleased with the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 [because it considered the AlQaeda-related Taliban a threat, and it was pleased with the American invasion of Iraq because of the removal of Saddam, another enemy]. Then there were two important developments. The first was that the American administration stumbled in Iraq and was unable to put down the resistance, and the second was that in spite of US and European pressure, Iran not only continued with its nuclear program, but also started supporting the Iraqi resistance. And accompanying these developments was the spread of AlQaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq, and its extensions into Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in a direct way, and more indirectly into Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Somalia.

These developments gave rise to a specific anxiety in Washington: namely whether Tehran might not form an alliance with AlQaeda on a regional level, either as a way of deterring a possible US military attack, or else as strategic preparation for waging a fierce war once an American attack was under way.

There's no doubt America is suffering from the the Sunni AlQaeda. How would it be it they were joined by a Shiite AlQaeda?
Putting the matter globally, Naaman says America is at war with the Arab world and with parts of the broader non-Arab Islamic world. An attack on Iran would enlarge this and make it a war of American against the entire Arab and Islamic world. The idea that an attack on Iran would do anything but that is a figment of America's imagination.
This will become a complete and comprehensive war against muslims throughout the Islamic world, in fact throughout the world as a whole, if the Bush administration gives in to his whim and attacks Iran, thinking that the Sunni Islam will stand idly by as an observer as he tries to destroy the seat of Shiite Islam. It is true that fitna is a present danger between some Sunni and Shiite groups. But that is a corrupt and hateful option, moreover one that won't survive once the ummah discovers that it is all muslims, of all sects and persuasions, that are the object of this attack by the American-Zionist empire.
There are two ideas here: First that an attack on Iran would be a mistake of incalculable importance, based on the idiotic premise that Sunni muslims wouldn't mind seeing America try and destroy the seat of Shia Islam. That is an idea that has occurred to many. But Naaman's more specific idea in this piece is that if the American administration were to be able to bring itself to think clearly about what has happened so far, it would see that there is a potentially important area of common ground with Iran, namely the threat that AlQaeda poses to both of them. Naaman doesn't develop this idea in a negotiating context. Rather, he ends his piece with a call for solution to the crisis by complete and unequivocal US withdrawal, "whether early or delayed, whether forced of voluntary..."


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