Foreign minister Javad Zarif of Iran, an unknown Russian representative, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond of the UK, and Secretary of State John Kerry of the USA at the announcement of the JCPOA in 2015 (Photo: U.S. Department of State. Source: Wikicommons)
The Globe Post
With each passing day demonizing Iran for terrorism, interference in other countries, and human rights violations, it becomes increasingly more difficult to persuade Americans of the need for reconciliation and better relations with Iran. And with each passing day of harsh sanctions on Iran without acceptable justification, the Iranian people’s support for the regime in Tehran increases while anti-American and anti-Saudi sentiments grow.
Time is not on the side of better Iran-U.S. relations. Distrust of the U.S. has ballooned among leaders in Tehran after the U.S. tore up the nuclear deal and exited the agreement. War, or an accidental war, is much more likely today than reconciliation and fruitful relations.
The productive way forward is not a series of timid confidence-building steps but a bold, comprehensive approach to simultaneously address Iranian as well as international concerns. Partial solutions will only result in an unraveling when an unaddressed issue comes to the fore.
A first step in the process of reconciliation should be for each side to agree to a format for meetings designed to settle all grievances. A brief meeting here and there between the two presidents, although affording historic photo-ops, will help little and could even be counterproductive.
To reach a meaningful solution to the many issues dividing Iran and the U.S., these meetings would take many months. Each side should carefully choose a group of specialists (representing all areas of contention, such as security, military, economic, and human rights) who harbor no personal agenda and have a deep understanding of the other side.
This should be followed by a presentation of a laundry list of each side’s grievances, real or imagined, to develop a mutually acceptable agenda.
Lists of Grievances
For Iran, the critical items on the list would likely include: the immediate removal of all sanctions, a timetable for a significant, if not total, withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Persian Gulf region, no interference in Iran’s internal affairs, the elimination of all covert operations in the area, and the prohibition of the sale of weapons to every country in the Middle East…
Read Part I of this article: Why Are US-Iran Relations So Tainted?
Read Part II of this article: US Isolation of Iran and a Regional War Nobody Wants
Author Hossein Askari is an Emeritus Iran Professor of International Business and International Affairs at the George Washington University. In 1991, he was asked by the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia to mediate and restore their diplomatic relations and by the government of Kuwait to improve relations with Iran
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