Iran, Syria, and John Kerry

[This is the substance of my recent interview with Mohsin Bayat of on current foreign affairs. ]

Q. What do you think about US approach against Iran?

A.  Everyday Americans take the hostility between Iran the U.S. as a given because the one and only attack by Iran on American soil, the seizure of the embassy in Tehran, coincided with the birth of the Islamic Republic. This is unfortunate. While the attack should never have occurred and Ayatollah Khomeini’s post-facto support for the hostage holding is just cause for American resentment, there is a context of a history of American hostile intervention in Iranian affairs, symbolized by the overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister Mossadeq, of which most Americans are ignorant, and need to be understood. Since that event, Iran has not attacked American interests, and indeed was the most sympathetic nation in the Muslim world when a handful of violent Muslims attacked the World Trade Center in 2001. I do not hesitate to say that there many flaws in the current implementation of republicanism in Iran, but I firmly believe that Americans could have a more benign influence if our advice for improvements to the system were decoupled from any demand that Iran abandon its rights to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and its condemnation of Israeli apartheid and aggression.

Q. What is best way for Resolving US-Iran disputes about Iran Nuclear program?

A. I believe the best way to resolve American concerns about the production of nuclear weaponry by the Iranian state is for the U.S. to offer Iran support for its rights under the non-proliferation treaty to develop nuclear energy and medicine in return for Iran’s complete and effective cooperation with IAEA’s efforts to assure that Iran is in full compliance with that treaty.

Q.  What are the results of  supporting Syrian opposition by sending arms?

A. I believe those regimes which have armed the Syrian opposition have harmed the cause of liberating Syria from the oppression of the Assad regime. The peaceful demonstrations against Assad held promise of alienating Assad’s army from the regime (as the peaceful demonstrations against the Shah alienated the Iranian army form his despotism). Changing the opposition movement from a peaceful one to a civil war has made the inevitable fall of Assad much bloodier and more protracted, and guarantees that the aftermath will be all the more difficult and divisive and less likely to improve the situation of the Iraqi people.

Q. Do you think John Kerry can make changes in U.S foreign policy?

A. It is not the job of the Secretary of State to set foreign policy, but to implement it. I hope that Mr. Kerry’s war experience will preserve him from making the mistakes of the “chicken hawks” who have held or influenced this position in the past. We must remember that it is the President who is in the driver’s seat, and Colin Powell’s military experience and general good sense did not save him from being used as the tool of warmongers with no military experience in the Bush administration in facilitating the invasion of Iraq.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

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