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Iran and Obama's First Lesson - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Under intense pressure, North Korea abandoned its stubbornness. It opened its nuclear facilities for inspection and destroyed one of them in return for a small amount of financial assistance and an end to the economic sanctions imposed upon it. This took place in the days of former US President George W. Bush, who had insisted on besieging North Korea but agreed to suspend the sanctions by letting Japan supply the financial aid. For some time, North Korea complied but it soon reverted to its old habit when it saw Bush on his way out.

President Barack Obama is now facing two challenges: The first is North Korea’s old behavior and the second is Iran’s new behavior. Both regimes believe that he will not wage war or engage in a confrontation. Iran has embarrassed Obama on the world level after aborting the international consensus on the need to impose harsh sanctions on it by promising to hand over most of its cache of uranium. This was a reasonable offer by Iran, but it was hard to believe. In fact, it turned out to be sheer procrastination to gain time and divide the international ranks. In my opinion, Iran may succeed in buying a few more weeks and in winning over some Western countries. However, the danger lies within the circle of international conflict; it cannot disappear through boredom or the passage of time. This is exactly what Saddam Hussein failed to understand and led to his end in the deferred clash. The region is saturated with weapons, warships, oil, and terrorism. Iran’s nuclear arms schemes will not pass the way North Korea’s did due to the many differences that exist between the two countries and due to the importance of the oil region to the world. That is what French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner meant when he said that the region is sitting on a powder keg and that Iran’s attempts to fabricate a battle specifically with France will fail to divide international ranks. Iran is deliberately fabricating a dispute with France because it is the only country that can carry out the agreement to move the enrichment of uranium abroad and treating it to become suitable for medical purposes.

Iran has made US President Barack Obama the laughing stock of his adversaries that disagreed with him on Iran. These adversaries believe that Iran did not intend at all to cooperate in its nuclear scheme and that delaying the imposition of sanctions on it is a wrong policy. The events of the day before yesterday proved the soundness of this stand. Iran sold to the international community the idea of transporting most of its uranium reserve abroad to complete the enrichment process. At the last minute, however, Iran backtracked and said that it will keep its uranium and instead wishes to buy a fresh reserve of enriched uranium! If the second date passes without the Iranian Government demonstrating that it is serious in its nuclear reconciliation, Obama’s position will be extremely embarrassing for him. He will not be able to justify his policy that many experts inside and outside his government oppose. I will not be exposing a secret when I say that the failure of the negotiations in Vienna has pleased the foes of Iran. One of them told me: We thought that the Iranian Government would “drag its feet” in implementing the original plan for enrichment abroad. However, “we were surprised at hearing Iran expose its own lies by making the new offer.”This hastened the anger against Iran and exposed Iran’s cards. This was Obama’s lesson that would hopefully educate him about the realities in our region.

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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