Sunday, July 11, 2004

The Daily Star - Washington must start coping with Iran's rising power

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Washington must start coping with Iran's rising power: "Whoever wins this November's presidential elections, the United States faces an urgent question that the Bush administration has not resolved: What is America's strategy for coping with the rising power of Iran?
Washington and Tehran have engaged in extensive secret contacts since September 11, 2001 - premised on their shared goal of destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taleban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq. But despite many meetings, nothing has come of the contacts - partly because the Bush administration, not for the first time, was internally divided over the right strategic course to pursue.
What's poignant about these wary US-Iranian feelers is that just over a year ago, they yielded a plan for an 'anti-terrorist' deal that both countries should have loved: Iran would hand over some senior Al-Qaeda operatives in its custody, and the United States would transfer to Iran some prisoners it was holding from the Iraqi-backed Mujahideen Khalq organization, a group America has officially branded as terrorist.
The State Department is said to have favored such a deal, but the Pentagon balked - arguing that the Mujahideen might be useful in fomenting regime change in Tehran. Sadly, this internal dispute between administration pragmatists and ideologues over Iran is similar to the feuds that have obstructed policy on North Korea and Iraq."

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