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Handling a Crisis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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No matter how much you differ with the Sudanese regime’s politics, you cannot dismiss its ability to detect early danger and consequently its ability to maneuver and end the crisis with the least possible damage.

The Sudanese regime was able to dig itself out of a hole when it signed the peace agreement with the southern separatists. The regime further played soft politics with the Americans, co-opted many northern opposition figures and deliberately marginalized some of its supporters thus winning some extra time for its survival. Nobody should ever think that such changes were easy to make, to the contrary, they were very dangerous especially when they are reversals from previous stances and the abandoning of major interests.

The Iranian regime too is characterized by a reasonable degree of flexibility, which may not give much but nevertheless able to adequately absorb shocks to fend off imminent danger without causing real change. The closest example is the Iranian management of the nuclear reactors and the uranium enrichment project crisis, and how Tehran first denied the presence of anything, then approved some facts. It rejected any inspection request to its nuclear facilities, and then quietly consented to the inspection without stopping its publicized campaign of denial. After the inspectors found enough evidence in its reactors and labs to exert pressure on Iran, it backed down and announced its readiness for cooperation. It then provided enough concessions to silence those meeting in Vienna for another month.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and the Europeans returned to complain about suspicions that may confirm the Iranian enrichment project, and requested the inspection of military installments. Despite, announced rejection, Tehran agreed on inspection. Nevertheless, it delayed the visit. The case is still pending between threats and retreats from both sides. Meanwhile, Tehran is successfully preventing the crisis from either approaching confrontation at the Security Council, or reaching the stage of a military face off.

Perhaps Tehran wants to get a new economic or political price before offering all the pledges required in preventing the construction of its nuclear bomb. Without wavering locally which may present it in an image of subordination before its own citizens, Tehran has proven that it is more cautious than implicating itself in unfavorable confrontations. This is what Tehran did during the visit by the Syrian Prime Minister the day before yesterday. As the Syrian Prime Minister spoke in Tehran about establishing a “front” to confront the USA, Tehran hosted him and granted him the propaganda he wants. However, after the meeting with the Prime Minister was over, the Iranian foreign minister deliberately held a press conference to clarify that his country has no intention of establishing a “front” with Syria nor does it intend to establish a coalition; only a general cooperation. Thus Tehran wanted to remain as far as possible from its neighbor’s problem leaving Damascus in charge of plucking out its own thorns with its own hands. This could be explained in either of two ways: that Iran realizes the grave price it could pay for siding with Syria; or that Iran knows that it may attain a better price from either Syria or the USA in exchange for a future deal by which it would change its policy.

Translator: Hazem salem

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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