'Soft power will strike hardest at Teheran’s nuke program'

Iranian-born analyst urges the West to combine sanctions with human rights activism to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

By OREN KESSLER
February 10, 2011 02:04
1 minute read.
The members of the U.N. Security Council vote on s

Iran sanctions 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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A US-based Iranian journalist and analyst speaking at the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday urged the West to combine sanctions with human rights activism to curb Teheran’s nuclear ambitions.

Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said during a debate on Iran sanctions that the Islamic Republic’s drive toward nuclear weapons could best be slowed by the application of soft power.

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The West can best exert its influence in the country, Khalaji said, by providing Iranians with media outlets and the means to connect. “It is a nightmare for the regime for people to connect with each other,” he said. “The Iranian public needs to know they are being cared for beyond the nuclear arena.”

Khalaji is a Shi’ite theologian by training – his father is an ayatollah linked to the ruling clique – and an expert in Islamic and Western philosophy.

Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian- Israeli author and founder of the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company, said Israel must rearrange its priorities if it hopes to divert Teheran from its course. “I call on Netanyahu to put the settlements aside and focus on a nuclear Iran, because this cannot wait,” he said Iran’s economy is based on the energy trade, and by harming that industry, the West can do to it “what the rise in bread prices did to Egypt,” Javedanfar said.

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Washington based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said Israel must refuse to do any business whatsoever with entities that trade with Iran.

Israel “needs to be more Catholic than the pope,” he said.



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