India Intelligence Report

US & Iran Talk Iraq But Fight Over Nuclear Program


Even as hard-line US Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton demanded strong action by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Iranian nuclear program, the US sought Iran’s help to resolve the situation in Iraq. The US has apparently asked its Ambassador in Iraq Zalmay Khalilzhad to initiate conversations with Iran on finding a permanent solution to the ground situation in Iraq. Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said that the US has been approaching his country for a while seeking its opinion on the issue. As the only Shia country in the world, Iran could have a major influence on the situation in Iraq, which has a majority Shia population.

The involvement of Iran is seen as a major departure of US position since 1979 to isolate Iran diplomatically and economically when an Islamic revolution uprooted a US puppet regime in that country. The revolutionists also captured the American Embassy holding the employees hostage for several years. The US attempted a major rescue mission, which was botched within the first few minutes into the operation when two helicopters collided and alerting populations about a US invasion. Losing the surprise advantage, the US military called off the operation. Many former diplomats who were hostages in Tehran say that the current Iranian President Ahmadinejad led the takeover and was a prominent member of the Revolutionary Guard; a charge that Tehran denies.


Even if the countries should talk, it will be narrowly focused only on Iraq and the US said it would not negotiate the nuclear issue. The stability of Iraq is of paramount importance to both countries. For the US, a stable Iraq means that it can keep its schedule of withdrawing its forces in November as planned. Iran is very concerned that the sectarian strife in Iraq could easily spill over into its borders and destabilize its tottering economy. The US has frequently criticized and accused Iran of sponsoring terrorism and contributing to the destabilization of Iraq; a charge that Iran assiduously denies.

Although political and military analysts do not rule out American and Israeli air and missile attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities, many see this as an opportunity where the two estranged countries could begin a conversation and cooperate. Some even hope that once conversations on Iraq begin, other topics such as Iran’s nuclear program may be brought to the table. While the US public position may be not to discuss non-Iraq issues, it may be inevitable that it does discuss others issues with Iran. After all, Iran is the only country that can give Americans hope to leave Iraq peacefully. It commands the respect of the Muslim world, albeit grudgingly from the Whhabbi Sunni world, principled in its positions, and historically more peaceful than a closet-terror nation like Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, since a Shia Iran is at odds with a Whhabbi Sunni al Qaeda and can act as a major buffer between the US and a radical Islamic movement. In a closer engagement with Iran, the US may find it less radical than silent terrorist-supporting policies of Saudi Arabia.

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