The return of prominent US diplomat Dennis Ross to the region is not a surprising move; however the surprise lies in his appointment as special adviser to Hilary Clinton for the Gulf region and Southwest Asia, which includes Iran.
Ross has long been associated with the Palestinian/Israeli peace negotiations, particularly during former President Bill Clinton’s administration. However Mr. Ross returns to the region today to deal with the issue of Iran, this time carrying the title of Adviser, rather than that of Special Envoy.
An Arab diplomat explained this saying that it indicates a lack of maturity in the American vision towards Iran in that Washington will wait for Iranian elections, and their results [before taking action].
A US State Department spokesman said following Ross’s appointment that “This is a region in which America is fighting two wars and facing challenges of ongoing conflict ,terror proliferation, access to energy, economic development and strengthening democracy and the rule of law.”
The country most alluded to in this statement is Iran, whether it is [by way of their influence] in Iraq or Afghanistan which are the two regions where America is embroiled in war, as well as the reference to weapons proliferation, terrorism, and other points.
Ross believes that the time has come to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear project, and he believes that putting further pressure on Tehran may achieve this, and is calling for intelligent sanctions to be used to force the Mullahs to alter their behavior.
This is no secret, indeed Ross wrote an article on Iran that was published in Newsweek in December 2008, in which he criticized Iran and wrote about the dangers that it represents to the region. In this article Ross wrote “Wherever you look in the Middle East you find Iranian threats to political stability and American interests.” He also revealed that in 2004, during the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iran made advances of mutual cooperation towards America.
Ross’s appointment as an adviser also indicates that Washington is taking Israel into account, especially since the Zionist state appears more eager than America to take military action against Iran, and had attempted to persuade former President Bush to do so. Ross, naturally, enjoys the confidence of Israel.
Ross’s selection to this position is in view of Iran more than anything else, especially since Washington has already appointed George Mitchell as Special Envoy to the Middle East, and Richard Holbrooke as Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Ross, who will not take a soft position on Iran, believes in the need for international cooperation outside of the United Nations to deal with Tehran, by way of Europe, China, Japan, and the Gulf states.
And so now, after the bride and groom have met, as they say, it is important to monitor Iran’s reaction to Ross’s appointment, especially since Tehran is involved in all issues relating to the region.