POTENTIAL FOR tourism, cultural exchange, and business awaits in Iran, as long as countries can get over conflict impasse, argues the author..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It’s in Washington’s best interest to end impasse with Tehran • By RAMON COLLADO Iran’s recent missile tests have baffled the West, indicating that the economic sanctions imposed on this country are not deterring its geopolitical maneuvering. Sensationalism in media, however, has made matters worse: it has contributed tremendously to Iran’s economic isolation and rogue reputation.
In Iran, paradoxically, the general consensus is that Iranians don’t want war. In fact, Iran maintains an anti-West rhetoric because it is concerned it will wind up like Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan where economic interests, political and religious disagreements and the intrusion of the United States set the stage for armed conflicts and constant turmoil.
The mistrust between Tehran and Washington is well founded.
The CIA’s orchestrated coup d’état against Iranian democratically elected president Mohammad Mossaddegh in 1953 and the 1979-1981 diplomatic crisis in which eight American diplomats were killed at the US embassy in Tehran have left a negative mark on US-Iran diplomatic relations that is still relevant today.
Iran showcases its military might to demonstrate to the Western powers that it is a defense-endowed nation. Notwithstanding Iran’s show of defiance, the US must not be hesitant to approach this nation.
The US must reignite diplomatic relations with this country because it is in its best interest to regain leadership in the Middle East; this is also beneficial for the US because the camaraderie that will emerge from healthy diplomatic relations represents the end of the tensions between both countries.
The recent nuclear deal signed between Iran and the Western powers – Iran now has $100 billion in unfrozen assets in exchange for halting its nuclear program – has proven that these countries can work multilaterally.
On the other hand, there are issues that Iran and the US must address: anti-Israel rhetoric, human rights abuses and Hezbollah funding.
This is possible if both parties sit at the negotiation table and work on finding common ground.
Iran’s recent behavior is deplorable.
Dangerous, authoritarian Russia, however, invaded Georgia in 2008, annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and constantly violates the airspace of neighboring countries. Nevertheless, apart from the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, Washington has maintained diplomatic relations with the Kremlin. By comparison, amending diplomatic relations with Iran seems like a walk in the park.
There is great potential for trade, tourism, business and economic development for the US and Iran.
The US must not make the same mistake it made with the 55-year Cuban embargo – many scholars refer to the Cuban embargo as senseless. The amendment of diplomatic relations between Iran and the US would be extremely beneficial; a long-term rivalry would not.
Iran is a foreigners’ haven, a family- oriented nation in which people’s unmeasurable altruism, hospitality and humility can only be compared to the interest Americans show for Persian culture. Interacting with locals in Iran taught me that Iranians long for interdependence with the US, but want to manage their national affairs without the intrusion of any foreign power – I think most nations would agree.
At this contentious point of geopolitical maneuvering, a strong US presence in the Middle East is pivotal.
The US is aware that Russia is enhancing its military might – “Russia’s strategic game has shifted from geopolitics to putting its military might in play,” said defense specialist Ricardo Nieves. Iran, on the other hand, is timidly opening to the world community seeking to achieve economic development.
Therefore, Washington must use this juncture to end the post-Cold War dilemma with Tehran thus gaining leverage over Moscow in the Middle East.
One must not confuse the anti- West rhetoric Iran’s government maintains with the general population’s sentiment. When one walks down the streets of Tehran, Iranians almost always make an effort to say a few words in English, and these words usually are: “We love Americans! Welcome to Iran, you are my guest!”