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A U-Turn Toward Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Over a week ago, Britain sent its intelligence chief, accompanied by one of its government’s advisers, to Syria. The news was an object of controversy, especially since the visit came amid reports that they wanted to bargain over the relationship between the Palestinian Hamas organization and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which are “administratively” linked to Damascus.

Alarms rang out in some Arab countries when British Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that the issue is bigger than he had previously thought and that the goal is to change the policy in dealing with Syria and Iran. Are we witnessing an actual reversal of positions, especially given the important developments in the US government, now that the Rumsfeld team has been permanently defeated and replaced with strategists who are very much different from the conservative right-wing?

Have Washington and London changed their strategies and given up the idea of antagonizing the Tehran axis by adopting a policy of alliance with the other side? Suggesting that will give the other side wrong and extremely serious signals, as happened in the invasion of Iraq, which gave the wrong signal that America was about to change the regimes in the region, something that provoked these regimes, which helped to foil the US enterprise and made America’s life hell.

An old saying goes: If you want to send your enemy to Hell, make sure you do so. Washington did not send anyone to Hell. It rather wants to get out of Iraq at any cost. There are numerous questions about the new British inclination. Does the departure from Iraq have guaranteed consequences? Can the Iranian guarantees be trusted? Is the cost Iran’s reversal of its nuclear arms project or the United States relinquishing its opposition to it? In my opinion, the most important question is: Is there in Iran a one, unified leadership, whose decision can be guaranteed to be final and reliable?

We will give the British mediator the award of the century if he indeed can defuse the crisis by ending hostility with Iran and Syria and guaranteeing the stability of Iraq, the withdrawal of the US troops, the disarming of Hezbollah, an end to Syria’s interference in Lebanon, and the acceptance by Hamas of negotiations to end the Israeli occupation.

Believing that there is a practical solution that is acceptable to everyone — an Iranian nuclear bomb, the independence of the two regimes in Iraq and Lebanon, and peace in Palestine — is almost like an animated movie.

This is what we hope. We hope to see an Iran that is not under siege, to see the Americans out of Iraq, to see Hezbollah raise the Lebanese flag over Shab’a, see Hamas accept and declare a liberated Palestinian state; and see a Syria secure from international pursuit. These are indeed caricatures that exist only in our imagination, because the politicians here are very far from realism.

If the British negotiators manage to solve some of these complexes without creating crises because of them, they will deserve the gratitude of us all. We hope they will not run after the mirage to overcome the bloody reality of Iraq, because our region deals with signals more than it deals with frankness. What can be understood here is that the new negotiations are a declaration of defeat and readiness for withdrawal at any cheap cost and the resulting price will be high, namely, increased frequency of violence in new areas.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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