What now?

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Iran Focus: To end the current impasse, the West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the ultimate winning strategy.

Iran Focus

Editorial

 

The failure of the latest round of negotiations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program was not exactly a bolt from the blue. It was clearly expected on the basis of a reasonable and sound analysis. The real surprise, however, was the West’s inexplicable eagerness to continue on the current unreasonable tack without the slightest inclination to re-examine a strategy that is clearly not delivering.

After the talks ended over the weekend, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, who represents the big powers during the negotiations with Iran, said the two sides “remain far apart on the substance.”

Every negotiation (near 40 in the past decade) has followed the same script. They all start and end with varying degrees of optimism, but the differences on “substance” remain constant.

The only party that benefits from open-ended discussions is the Iranian regime. Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, characterized the latest talks as “good.”

He also appeared emboldened enough to lecture the world on its perceived commitments to the regime. “It is now up to the P5-plus-1,” he said, “to demonstrate its willingness and sincerity to take appropriate confidence building steps in the future.”

This is indeed an audacious statement, made by a regime that has lied its way towards the bomb since the outset. But that is to be expected of a murderous ogre that terrorizes its own population and threatens regional peace and stability and beyond as a fixed foreign policy objective. Yet, after all the regime’s infractions and defiance of Security Council resolutions, western powers continue to compromise and give more time to the regime to get closer to the bomb. This has made a mockery of UN Security Council resolutions while severely constraining the West’s strategic alternatives.

What is even more intriguing is that the West continues to adopt a soft policy even at a time when Tehran is increasingly weakened by growing factional bickering, international isolation, a botched economy, and mounting public discontent gradually maturing into mass protests.

To end the current impasse, the West must drop the dangerous pretence that talking to a regime not interested in listening constitutes the ultimate winning strategy. It should adopt a policy more aligned to the realities on the ground. As the presidential elections near in Iran, the Iranian people are preparing to use every opportunity to protest against the entire clerical regime, regardless of the various regime chieftains vying for more power.

Western governments should stand with the Iranian people in their desire to be free. In addition to placing more sanctions on a regime that jails, tortures and kills its people, western policy should pay closer attention to the regime’s real vulnerability: fundamental change spearheaded by organized opposition groups that seek a democratic, secular and a non-nuclear Iran.

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