By A Khokar
A year ago, Iranian policy-makers found themselves in the uncomfortable position of being literally surrounded militarily by the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan, while at the same time facing threats from former President George W. Bush that American air sorties would be soon engaging the military targets in Iran . Though the Iranians are still uncomfortably close to US military bases, the threat of a military attack has subsided, but they now find themselves surrounded on all sides by America’s most recently deployed force: diplomats.
Middle East envoy George Mitchell and point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke have already begun their work in the regions to the east and West of Iran. The most recent addition to the US team of diplomats, Dennis Ross, was on Monday appointed special adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the Gulf and southwest Asia, including Iran.
Denis Ross’ appointment has naturally raised suspicions in Iran, given his past affiliation and collaboration with groups such as the pro-Israel ‘ Institute for Near East Policy’, the hawkish American Enterprise Institute and the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, three organizations which advocated Bush’s military adventures in the Middle East. Moreover Ross’ preferred strategy on Iran is already known to be similar to the one that has been employed for the last eight years: In his most recent article in Newsweek, the newly appointed envoy argued for implementing a now-familiar policy of “appetizing carrots” and “sharp sticks.”
Just as the news must come as discomforting to Iran, Arab states in the Gulf region are probably relieved that Washington will not be making any U-turns on its policy toward Tehran. While these countries have always publicly opposed a military strike on Iran, they have quietly agreed with the US that Iran has worrisome ambitions.
A key point for all sides to remember, though, is that Ross is neither a soldier nor a key decision-maker, but rather a diplomat. However, the Iranians will need to stoop low and prepare themselves for war – not with missiles and bombs, but rather with carefully crafted arguments, working agendas and lists of priorities. They need to wage counter-diplomacy on all of the same fronts that Ross will enter in his effort to pressure Iran.
Where as Iran may be all out to repair the prevalent misunderstanding between Iran and the West, as well as with the Gulf States; as a concession United States may be looking forward to avail a right of passage through Iran, from Iranian Sea port of Chabahar (situated adjacent to Newly built all season deep water Gawader Sea port of Pakistan) and use the Indian built 600 kilometre long motor way connecting Chabahar to Herat in Afghanistan, as a future War, US- NATO forces supply route.
Source: Daily Star-Lebanon