Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Change Of Views In Iran

Iran-Israel Relations

Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī of Iran [1919-1980], U.S. President Kennedy, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.at the White House, Cabinet Room, April 13, 1962.
During his tenure as leader, Mohammad Reza established good relations with both Israel and the United States; he ruled as a monarch from 1941 until 1979, when he was forced to leave when the Islamic Revolution gained power. His rule was a modernizing influence, although he crushed dissent, notably from Islamists and Communists. His achievements included modernizing the nation by nationalizing certain industries and granting women suffrage. His legacy has undergone transformation in the last few years, notably among Iranian expatriates, who now view him as a needed moderating influence.
Photo Credit: JFK Library, 1962
Source: Wikipedia

AAP article, by Nasser Karim, published in The Huffington Post says that potential presidential candidate Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has stated that Iran is not at war with Israel, despite previous statements to the contrary made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Karim writes:
Iran’s influential former president says his country is not at war with archenemy Israel, the media reported Monday, in the latest departure by a high-profile politician from the strident anti-Israel line traditionally taken by many senior Iranian leaders. The remarks by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani follows calls from figures across the political spectrum to repair the damage to Iran’s international reputation they said had been caused by outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who called Israel a doomed state and questioned the extent of the Holocaust.
Several of them, including Rafsanjani, are considered possible contenders in June elections to replace Ahmadinejad as president. “We are not at war with Israel,” said the ex-president, quoted by several Iranian newspapers including the pro-reform Shargh daily. He said Iran would not initiate war against Israel, but “if Arab nations wage a war, then we would help.” Comments on Iran’s policies on Israel must tread a fine line. While it’s possible to question Ahmadinejad's remarks, it’s dangerous to be seen as contradicting Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has called Israel a “cancer” in the region.
The remarks are unable to herald any significant changes in Iranian policy, but may indicate the assessment of politicians that Ahmadinejad's particular brand of strident anti-Israel rhetoric may hurt him with many voters. Rafsanjani is considered a political centrist, attractive to some reformists but not a candidate who would challenge the dominance of the clerical establishment. He has not ruled out a run at the presidency himself, but is more likely to throw his considerable influence behind a center candidate and may be burnishing his moderate credentials.
Clerical conservatives, who once backed Ahmadinejad but turned on him after he challenged the authority Khamenei in 2011, also want to distance themselves from the president.
I disagree with this writer’s analysis that “the remarks are unable to herald any significant changes in Iranian policy.“ In a nation like Iran, airing such views does indeed send a signal to the international community that Iran wants to change its previous ill-advised course, and possibly establish some sort of (initially perhaps low-level) diplomatic relations with Israel. Such would be good news, both for the peoples of Iran and Israel, who I sense long for good diplomatic relations, increased trade with the west and better economic fortunes. There were diplomatic and trade relations between Israel and Iran from Israel's founding in 1948 until 1979, when Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī, the shah (or king) was ousted in the Iranian Revolution.

In addition, and it now sounds far-fetched, this might be a start of Iran eventually establishing some sort of relations with the United States, which broke off after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage crisis. There have been no official diplomatic relations between the two nations since April 7, 1980, when President Ronald Reagan signed an executive order. That is recent history, leading to 33 years of hostility between the two nations; but what happened before the situation escalated to what it has become today:

In an article (“The Dilemma of U.S.–Iran Relations”; Fall 2012) in The University of Virginia Magazine,  R.K. Ramazani, an Iranian by birth, writes in a first-person account of the long and deep ties between the two nations:
To resist imperialist pressures, the Iranian government established diplomatic relations with the U.S. in 1883, and the Iranian parliament hired an American financial expert, Morgan Shuster, in 1911, to reform the foreign-dominated finances of the country. British and Russian machinations, however, compelled him to leave Iran. He wrote about his bitter experience in his 1912 book, The Strangling of Persia.
The situation could be reversed, the situation could be normalized, if the political will is present and doubts and fears can be overcome, no easy task to be sure. Even so, stranger things have happened, leaving all the political experts caught without an explanation for the significant and important change in views (think the collapse of the Soviet Union a little more than 20 years ago). Truly, this might be a harbinger of things to come.

You can read the rest of the article at [The Huffington Post]