Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Is the IAEA a Political Mediator? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Negotiations between the G5 + 1 countries and Iran in Vienna have gone back to square one, after Teheran retracted its pledge of enriching uranium outside of its soil.

However, what was eye-catching is the highly political tone of the statements made by Mohamed el-Baradei, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) in the interview he gave to the French L’Express magazine.

El-Baradei was quoted saying that he is “full of hope” that Iran will agree on the proposal to enrich uranium outside of its soil, especially after his meeting with Ahmadinejad 15 days ago, which made el-Baradei think that the political dimension of this agreement will be “considerable.” “If we made that agreement, everything would be possible. After all, Iran can have a positive impact on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian lands”, el-Baradei said.

Of course, there is no intention of subduing Mr. el-Baradei’s political opinions, however, what is worrisome about his comments is the implied acknowledgement of Iran’s right to interfere in the region’s affairs, which is unjustifiable. Iran has no boarders with all of the countries mentioned by Mr. el-Baradei, yet despite the fact that geographical distance does not entitle it to interfere, Iran continues to exploit the regions issues in order to make selfish gains.

Iran does not share boarders with the Palestinian lands, nor does it work to help achieve Palestinian unity, in fact it is a major contributing factor to the current Palestinian division, and evidence of this can be seen in Hamas’s inflexibility in the Egypt-sponsored Palestinian reconciliation talks. Iran also has no boarders with Lebanon, but only interference to back one side against the other, meaning Hezbollah, which has been proven to be the party frustrating the formation of the Lebanese government today, and in the process prolonging the Lebanese people’s crisis, while pulling Lebanon towards the glooms of the unknown.

Regarding Iraq, all that remains to be done is to declare Iran as America’s partner in the occupation; this situation has a lot depending on it, but it does not include leniency or concessions towards Tehran. The same applies to the situation in Afghanistan, as the Iranian role has no positive impact at all, but is rather complicating matters. Of course, what remains is Iran’s support of the Houthis in Yemen, which is a story set in the present and its signs are witnessed on a daily basis.

As for Syria, el-Baradei’s statement seems odd; does he mean that Iran may, for example, help in changing Syria’s positions in Lebanon? Or in the peace process? I doubt it. Syria has demonstrated flexibility regarding the Lebanese government’s formation with the agreement of the Lebanese people, whereas Hezbollah is hindering the process. Besides, Damascus has gone ahead with indirect negotiations with Israel via Turkey, a step that was not approved by Iran. Moreover, Syrian-American relations are in constant mutual approach. And let’s not forget that we did not see a positive position from Iran regarding the tensions between Syria and Iraq; rather it was Turkey that sought to calm the situation.

Therefore, what is problematical about the political tone of el-Baradei’s statements is that it suggests implied acknowledgement of Iran’s role in the region, which might lead it to be less flexible and in the process demand more concessions from the international community.