Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Will Iran Become the Next Switzerland? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

American President Barack Obama initiated the US policy of “soft power” regarding Iran with an important televised speech that indicated the beginning of a new stage; in short, Washington hopes to engage in dialogue with Iran. Let us assume that Washington can change the way that it deals with Iran; can the Mullahs change their approach towards the “Great Satan” that is America?

Not only did Obama address the Iranian leadership in his speech, he also focused on the Iranian nation, which, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, lit candles in a vigil for the victims of terrorism in America. This is where the importance of the features of the “soft power” policy, which was announced by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, becomes clear.

Some elements of the “soft power” policy that Washington is using appeared in Obama’s speech in which he referred to the bright aspects of Iranian civilization, music and art as well quoting the Persian poet Saadi. However, it was impressive to the Iranians who yearn for the past, not to the revolutionary regime of the Mullahs!

The reaction from Iran came as expected; Tehran demanded an apology from America for the past. An apology in this sense means compensation etc. But the question here is: what does Washington want from Iran? What Obama alluded to in his speech was very little but important.

In his speech, Obama spoke about Iran taking its rightful place in the international community but away from terrorism and military wings. In other words, Tehran must stop interfering in Iraq and threatening its stability, and must stop supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

Moreover, Iran must end its occupation of the UAE islands and must stop hindering the peace process in the region, especially as we might soon witness the launch of Syrian-Israeli peace negotiations and the completion of inter-Palestinian dialogue.

In addition, Iran must also stop threatening regional states and of course, America wants Iran to stop threatening Israel. Finally, and above all, Iran must abandon its nuclear program.

Will the Mullahs of Iran do all of that?

If Tehran were to do everything that it is asked to do then nobody would have any problem with it whatsoever. In fact, it would become the new Switzerland of the region as it would become a peaceful state and a source of regional stability and prosperity. However, that simply means that the Islamic Republic would have to abandon the most important pillar of security for the Mullah regime, which is the principle of the Islamic Republic. In this case, Iran would be the one to start a new revolution, not Washington, and this would be difficult to achieve unless Obama is willing to abandon many things, and most importantly, unless America is willing to hand over regional security, which is not its own to give, to Iran, which does not deserve it. In this case, we really would be faced with another Balfour Declaration.

Iran’s problem is not that those around it pose a threat to it and want to destroy it; the problem is that it is Tehran that pursues regional states in all fields whether politics, security, or sectarianism.

It is Iran that is present in Iraq, Lebanon, and the Gulf, not the other way round. It is Iran that is exporting the revolution and planting its spies in the region, not the other way round. It is Iran that raises threatening slogans in the region, and not the other way round. Therefore, we are now faced with a new stage in the conflict with Tehran; the stage of the policy of “soft power”.

Does Iran have the capability to change? Can it abandon the idea of exporting the revolution? That is the question.