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Will Obama Bring a Thaw in US-Iran Ties? Too Early to Say: Expert

Asma Hamid
Filed on January 11, 2009

ABU DHABI - Although it is too early to predict what approach the Obama administration will take towards the resolution of the United States’ longstanding disputes with Iran, it is evident that the policy of avoiding direct diplomacy with Iran adopted by the Bush administration has fallen by the wayside according to an expert.


Nonetheless, it is still difficult to determine whether the Iranian leadership will give the Obama administration a very sympathetic hearing, according to Dr Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University in the United States.

Speaking on the US-Iran relations at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in the capital on Wednesday, Dr Monshipouri said that Iran is in fact desperate to normalise its relationship with Washington, but it is still unclear what type of relationship will form during the next American administration.

“The Obama administration’s preference for direct negotiation with Iran may revolve around three options. The first is to continue a policy of carrot and stick by pushing for further sanctions on the Iranian economy in general and its leaders assets in particular, while at the same time offering Iran rewards of strategic significance.”

The second option is to engage in a “grand bargain” with Iran, in which all regional issues will be the subject of negotiation. The third option is to approach the negotiation, issue by issue in order to build mutual confidence through the process, while paving the way for further negotiations on high-profile issues,” said Dr Monshipouri.

Dr Monshipouri stressed that for both countries, there is no more prudent option rather direct talks and negotiations, adding that ideological competition between Iran and the GCC countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, are politically unsettling and costly for both the region and for US interests in the region.

“I know how vital trade with Iran is for the UAE, and thus the UAE should engage in direct negotiations to resolve the issue of the three islands, which is not a key issue to Teheran politicians. They want to be recognized as a regional power”, he said.

Dr Monshipouri also said that although US military intervention is always an option, he said that it is very unlikely.

“If all efforts come to a halt regarding Iran’s nuclear energy programme, it would be disastrous. Obama could put more economic sanctions, but military intervention is extremely a dicey business”, he said.

asmahamid@khaleejtimes.com





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