Friday, February 11, 2011

New political developments in the Middle East and Iran's nuclear issue


Western media report that US and European officials are considering tougher sanctions against Iran. In a related development, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has reportedly called on Saudi Arabia to support stronger sanctions against Iran. In a belated reaction to the unsuccessful nuclear talks between Iran and the P-5+1 countries in Istanbul last month Fillon has reportedly stated that "In Istanbul, in January, Iran opposed our renewed proposal for serious dialogue over its nuclear program," and "To convince Iran to return to the negotiating table, we'll have to strengthen sanctions,".

Anonymous Western diplomats are also reported to have spoken of further non-UN sanctions against Iran in the near future. The AFP quotes an unidentified Western diplomat as saying “For the immediate future, one thing we will be doing with our partners is look at the scope for strengthening sanctions. We’re not talking about the UN here,”. “We’re talking more about coordinating national measures. We’re at the early stages of that. But the obvious areas are in the financial sanctions area, number one, and number two, in the oil and gas sector”, the diplomat is reported to have added.

These reports indicate that the Western powers have failed to take lessons from their past experience dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue. Western politicians seem to fail to note that they are pressing wrong-headedly on a dead-end path and that they have adopted a self-defeating strategy dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue. Western politicians need to be reminded that their hardened stance on Iran’s nuclear issue and tougher sanctions against Iran over the past several months have only further strengthened Iran’s resolve in pursuing and expanding its nuclear enrichment program and becoming more self-sufficient in the area of nuclear technology. The past experience also shows that their current strategy is only likely to kill off the remaining opportunities for cooperation between Iran and the West and will make no contribution to resolving the current stand-off between Iran and the West .

Further harsh measures against Iran will be born dead as other major world powers are not going to go along with these new measures, thus rendering them ineffective . As I have explained before, Russia is strongly opposed to imposing crippling sanctions against Iran, especially if they are taken outside the framework of the UN Security Council, where Russia will have no influence over policy outcomes. The same would also apply to China, which is more extensively involved in economic projects with Iran.

These belated reactions to the failure of the nuclear talks between Iran and the P-5+1 countries ,held in Istanbul last month ,cannot fail to reveal the impact of the recent political developments in Tunisia and Egypt on Western countries’ calculations for dealing with Iran. Western powers have realized that Iran and its regional allies are emerging as winners of the recent political developments in the region. The prospect of an independent-leaning Egypt in the aftermath of the fall of the Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the prospect of other Western-backed dictatorships crumbling down in the region seem to have put the Western politicians on the defensive and have made them disguise their new vulnerability by taking a more offensive approach to dealing with Iran’s nuclear issue.


 

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