Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Khatami is coming to Melbourne

It has been a while since my last post. I have been busy preparing for the first semester of the year 2009. However, now that the preparation is done and the units are up and running, I would like to write about an event which - I believe - is a matter of importance to us all. Mohammad Khatami - former Iranian president - is due to come to Australia on 26 March.

He has been invited to the La Trobe University in Melbourne by professor Joseph Camilleri - a senior lecturer on International Relation Studies. He will be talking about the importance of dialogue between the world political rivals for the purpose of finding solutions for their differences.

Attendance is open to the members of public with a very reasonable entrance fee of $5. I will be there.

You can find the relevant details here!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Khatami is back into the presidential election-race again

After months of speculation, Mohammad Khatami, the former Iranian president, is back into the next presidential election-race in Iran, and for a good reason.

He has already been in office for two terms between 1998-2006, later in 2005-6, he has been succeeded by the current infamous Iranian president - Ahmadi Nejad. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq by the US came right in the middle of his terms in office. At the time of the Iraq's invasion, his government had offered its cooperation to the US and also its readiness to talk with the then Bush's administration over their differences. However, it has been suggested that Mr. Cheney, the US Vice President at the time, had thrown his government's offering letter into the rubbish bin - not a wise move at all. However, the Cheney's unwise move has been matched by Tehran when it produced the current president Ahmadi Nejad to handle the unwise people in the White-House; and ever since the Bush-Cheney's team had met their match.

It took more than 3 years and lots of effort by Tehran to turn the tide against the White-House - and it did it well. Since the acquisition of the presidential office, Ahmadi Nejad and his government - read it Tehran - has constantly been in business of creating more headaches for the US than the both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq together.

Now, however, the election of Mr. Obama as the new tenure of the White-House for the next four years has such significant effect on the Tehran-Washington relation which Tehran can not possibly afford to ignore. This has made Tehran cautious in its responses to the White-House's signals over the past three weeks.

And this latest news out of Iran - the Khatami's candidacy - is a proper response to the Obama's comment days ago in which he had emphasized that "now, it is Tehran's turn". After 30 years of mistrust between the two countries, I am sure both American people and the Iranian young generation would like to see the mistrust fade away.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Mr. President, there is no need for rush

The Obama’s administration has been beaming encouraging signals toward Tehran this week.

However, one would safely expect their studies and planning stages on how to engage Iran take a little bit longer just to see through the Iranian presidential-election first.

It all started in an interview with the Al-Arabia TV Network in which president Obama asked Iran to unclench its fist in order to make it possible to shake hands. He wants Iran to show its interest in a meaningful way. However, the meaningful-way is open to the interpretation, it encompasses a wide range of activities on the Iran's part. For instance, the Iran's nuclear ambition and its stand on the Arab-Israeli predicaments are the prominent ones.

A day prior to the Mr. Obama's interview, Ms. Susan Rice, the new US’ delegate to the United Nation, has been quoted as saying that the US will enter a ‘vigorous diplomacy’ with Iran. Hillary Clinton, the new Secretary of States, was playing the same tune since she has been appointed to her position.

Nonetheless, the Obama’s stand against Iran was clear through out the US election-campaign - he had explicitly expressed his willingness to talk to Tehran directly and without any preconditions. That was a step in the right direction; however, it is important not to send a wrong message to Tehran. Tehran should not be under such perceived illusion that the Tehran-Washington game is over in its favour. Washington and Tehran should both be pragmatic and realistic – I am confident that they are – they both are aware of their own national interests and their security’s concerns.

Nevertheless, the Obama’s administration is just two-weeks old whereas the Ahmadi Nejad’s government has less than 3 months in office and it is facing an election. For Mr. Obama, it would be unwise to approach a government which may well be out of office soon. He and his advisers can surely do more studies and planning to be well prepared just in time to then engage a new and more stable administration in Tehran.