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The Russians and the French vs. Iran - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Russian press has hopped on the anti-Iran bandwagon after accusing Iran of adding fuel to the fire and heading in the direction of war. However, the unexpected surprise that preceded this and which also caused Iran some confusion was the outcome of the French elections. The Iranians rejoiced when Chirac left office and prayed for the victory of Nicholas Sarkozy because he is strong and independent.

Jacques Chirac, who has long been accused of hostility towards Iran and subordination to Washington, left the French presidential palace making way for Sarkozy to adopt a more stringent policy towards the US.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown was appointed the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom last June, and his lack of progress or developments [in the Iranian situation] has ended up as hostility towards Iran. The German position advocated a firmer approach in dealing with Iran.

Thus, for the first time ever since the Iranian revolution, we are witnessing a semi-unanimous position against Tehran on an international scale: America, Britain, France and Russia. Additionally, there is a political unanimity that sends out a clear message that the situation cannot be resolved in the way that the zealous Ahmadinejad seeks, which entails conceding to allow Iran to resume its nuclear project.

Russia is invariably accustomed to justifying its strategic interests by standing by Iran as a key ally in the Gulf region, while Iran adopts a carrot-and-stick approach with Russia, tempting it with economic projects. When Iran loses Russia, it means that it has entered the danger zone politically.

As for the internal situation in Iran, there are hushed but influential voices belonging to figures such as Sheikh Hashemi Rafsanjani warning Ahmadinejad of pushing the confrontation too far, as it would only serve the enemy better and give reason to go to battle  if that is what Iran wanted.

But the situation has deteriorated even further, which prompted French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to say that tensions had escalated in Iran to a point that could lead to war.

In fact, it is a conclusion that many have drawn; the likelihood of war is inevitable. The conviction that a war will erupt leads to war, since both parties prepare for it in every way. There is talk of minor military clashes in the Gulf waters, however reports remain unannounced and there are no sources to confirm of deny them.

The White House is no longer the indicator with which to gauge the position towards Iran, because what is being said in Moscow, Paris and Berlin has become quite similar. This never happened with Iraq, even at the height of the political mobilization against the late President Saddam Hussein before the war in 2003. The former Iraqi president was deceived by the inherent contradictions and the multiple positions adopted: Washington was issuing threats, France was voicing assurances, and Germany was adopting an apathetic approach, while Russia was promising alliance.

Contrastingly, in the case of Iran, there is a near unanimous conviction that it is playing with fire in its insistence to continue uranium enrichment and its advancement towards developing a nuclear weapon, not to mention the expansion of its military activities in the region.

Meanwhile; in return, all what the Iranian officials have done was give reasons [for their actions] to France’s new President Sarkozy just as they did with his predecessor Chirac.

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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