Hasan Rouhani was sworn in as president of Iran and immediately launched a more moderate and less strident approach to USA and Israel than former president Ahmadinejad.
He appealed for the end of sanctions and stated that the "only way to interact with Iran is through dialogue on equal footing, confidence-building , mutual respect, as well as mutual reducing of antagonism and aggression". " If you want the right response", he continued, " it should not be through the language of sanctions, it should be through the language of respect". The Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei , the Supreme Leader, said he approved of Rouhani's approach. " We need to take action wisely and prudently", he said.
Rouhani, further signaled his intention, by naming US-educated former UN ambassador Mohammad Javad Zarif as foreign minister. He is well known to top-level officials in the Obama administration. This bodes well, so long as the Americans are willing to take Rouhani at his word. One thing that should reassure them is that Rouhani, not only did not condemn Israel, but he, instead sent a message that Iran does not wish " to change the demarcations and borders" of any country in the Middle East. He insisted that Iran "pursues peace in the region" and that " the political structure of each country relies on the will of the people in that country". This refers of course to Israel as well as Syria,Egypt etc. of course. " Iran has never wanted to fight anyone in the world. Our policies will be focused on bringing the warmongers under control".
This is the new voice from Iran. There is an opening which must be seized but the immediate response from Netanyahu was to seize on a misquote from Rouhani " about Israel being a wound on the body of the Arab world". Netanyahu runs the risk of being overlooked, if he continues with his belligerent attitude as he did when he stated that while the president of Iran has been replaced, the "goal of the regime has not been replaced, it remains as it was.......develop nuclear weapons to destroy the state of Israel". Netanyahu the politician, has to be replaced by Netahyahu the statesman, who wants what is best for his country and not himself clinging to political power with the help of the colonists/settlers and the religious right, whose vote props him up. Can he change? I doubt it. He will procrastinate and throw up obstacles,while pretending to be interested.
What about Obama? Well he has a great opportunity to re-connect with the statements he made in the first year of his presidency, about being willing to talk with Iran. Maybe, he will be thinking about his place in history. Being a peacemaker, ending over 30 years of enmity and suspicion between Iran and the USA, will appeal to him. So Yes. I think that there will be probes, a bit hesitant at first to test the waters, and to see whether Rouhani and his more moderate cabinet and its policies are indeed the new approach. He also has a weakened Netanyahu to contend with. We may be moving to period of change, for if Iran is engaged, then events in Syria, Iraq ( more than 60% of the population is Shia) and with Hizballah , will also be moderated.
You can feel the changing mood already. Hope.
Rouhani has made some moves that the Americans cannot ignore......sending new year's greeting to Israel; freeing political prisoners and forcefully re-stating that Iran will not pursue the building of nuclear weapons. ....19/9/13
Sept.28, 2013....Rouhani continue to distance himself from the past...no nuclear weapon, phone call with Obama, first since 1979. The Sanctions are devastating, much suffering.
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(Fig 2a) The Death of Innocents
Ishwar R. Prashad recently retired from over 47 years of teaching.