Term Paper: Iran: A Path Towards Rapprochement

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[. . .] By shifting the Jews out of Europe, a certain amount of religious conflict was avoided in Europe, and the Jews felt happy that they had got their own land for the first time after the great Exodus, yet the people disposed of their land was the Arabs. This is the fundamental reason for the conflict which does not seem to get solved. The war that took place between Iraq and Iran in September 1980 also clearly showed that oil is under attack when a conflict takes place in that region. Both the sides led the attacks against the tankers from the other country as well as the refineries, and then to stop the other country by stopping its oil, led to attacks on neutral shipping as well. (13)

This led to a situation by 1987 where Kuwait sought the resistance of the U.S. In sending her tankers and the U.S. took up the task. This caused conflict between U.S. And Iran. Ultimately the tragic shooting down of an Iranian airliner took place by USS Vincennes in July 1988. (14) Luckily the war did not last much longer and calm was restored. The policy is being followed for quite some time now and there have been different reactions. The policy had protected some of the American friendly countries from Iraqi attacks and this includes countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. The view of the United States is however lop-sided and it views the Islamic revolution now being concentrated only in Iran. At the same time, it is not trying to solve the problems of marginalization of many socio-economic groups in the Gulf. This is pushing these groups to the radical Islamists as being the only solution to the present pro-Western states. They are beginning to feel that the West is not taking care of their troubles. (15)

The difficulties with Iran had started from the time the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979 and in spite of the best efforts; United States has not found a solution to establish a proper relationship with it. Part of the reason is the general distrust that this republic has of America due to the history of dealings that America had with the Shah. America had made commitments to the Shah and tried to help him even when he was forced into exile, but was not capable of facing up to the crisis that existed in Iran at that time. As a result, the U.S. diplomats unfortunate enough to be in Iran at that time were held up for 444 days. The Americans also helped the Iraqis under Saddam Hussein during the eight-year war between the two countries, and it is possible that America's encouragement only made Saddam Hussein attack Iran. The shipping in the Gulf under American control was shifted to other countries and took up a lot of banning efforts.(16)

One of that was the sale of arms to Iran. America also spent a lot of efforts in freeing some hostages held by the Iranian supported Hezbollah factions in Lebanon. The situation was so bad that America was actively trying to set up different leaders in Iran with whom it could deal, and failed badly. After a rather face-losing failure on the efforts made through direct efforts, America tried to employ economic methods. America wanted Iran to be isolated till it stopped support for international terrorism, stopped opposing the so-called peace process in the Middle-East and stopped all its efforts in acquiring weapons of the modern grade. (17)On the other hand, Iran wanted the evacuation of American military from the Gulf, repayment of the dues owed to the country from the times before the Islamic revolution and disputed by Iran at The Hague, and stop trying to dislodge the Iranian government. Of course, Iran being a much smaller and poorer country probably knew that there was little chance of its grievances being redressed. The situation continued till the election of Khatami as president in 1997. (18)

The problems with regard to a rapprochement exist not only in the U.S. But also in Iran. This is due to the mistrust of the United States in Iran, especially about the motives and methods. Many incidents have taken place in the past to build this sort of a relationship and that includes the old Mossadeqh affair, the relationship of the U.S. To the Shah, and the U.S. commitments to Iran. It is felt by many that the United States does not want the progress of Iran in any respect. This sort of a feeling has lasted many years, and though it has come down somewhat now, they still affect the relationship. It is felt that the U.S. can do nothing right for Iran. One of the latest such case was in the assistance of Kosover Muslims by NATO. This was felt to be of great value, except for the fact that the effort originated from Washington. There are some conflicts even among Iranians regarding this issue and they feel that the people should be helped, but not by Washington. (19)

This sort of a contradiction arises because of the differences in the systems of the two countries and their culture, and of course, the long history of distrust. There are further problems in this for President Khatami. He is a keen observer of the systems in the U.S. And understands the U.S. intentions quite well, but he also does not have total control of all the political systems in Iran. He is relatively moderate, but his opponents use his views to cause him trouble. This forces him to talk occasionally about United States in a different manner so that his opponents cannot take further advantage of the situation. This is also probably a part of the character of the Islamic Republic. The connection to the religion comes out in very peculiar ways, and that is difficult for Westerners to understand. Recently, Khatami made a trip to Italy, and he succeeded in meeting the Pope. This was his part of the dialogue of civilizations effort, and it was considered a great success. (20)

This was considered to be even a diplomatic triumph for Iran. Yet a trip to France at the same time could not be completed. The reason for this was probably unique. Khatami could not permit himself to be photographed with the bottles of wine on the table, or even at dinner tables where the wine bottles would be visible. France on its side refused to adjust and stop serving alcohol at the table! This was a conflict between the abstemious compulsions of the head of an Islamic country, and the rather humorous attempt by France to maintain its own culture. The result was that an important state visit could not take place. (21)


While the victory in Iraq has helped America in solving its problem in Iraq, the attitude of the Iranians to Americans has changed considerably. From the beginning of the fight against terror that was launched by America after the events of 11th September, the leaders in Iran have viewed some regimes as being their worst enemies. These were listed as being the Baathist rulers of Baghdad led by Saddam Hussein, the then existing Taliban in Kabul and then only the growing numbers of American soldiers in the Persian gulf and the nuclear armed Israel. They had begun to feel that they were then totally surrounded by their enemies of Iraq, Afghanistan and the U.S. soldiers in the gulf. They also had strategic competition very near them through Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Azerbaijan. (22)

They felt that they had only two partners in Russia and Armenia and they were also not very reliable. This was the main reason why they felt that they must have access to nuclear technology and advanced forms of weapons. The justification given by the leaders of Iran was both self-defense and self-reliance. They now feel that they are totally surrounded by the troops of United States and they are viewed as the worst enemy of Iran. (23) They also consider Pakistan to be a threat, yet they have purchased their nuclear technology from Pakistan. Part of the reason why they purchased nuclear technology was to build up an image of a leader in the nearby area and to gather support within the people of the country through development of a national pride. The Iranians are aware that they cannot win in a fight with the United States, but are trying to build up a position from where they could develop a high enough threat of potential damage to United States. (24)

This is expected to be unacceptable to the American people and thus help Iran in being coerced by the Americans with any force. Another problem that has come up with Iran is the settlement of the Iraqi shias and the way their political future is settled will decide this matter. It… [END OF PREVIEW]

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