Iranian rulers don’t want dialogue with the US

It remains difficult to imagine a time when Iran's “Rahbar” might pick up the phone to the west

Will Ali Khameini pick up the phone to the west?
Wahied Wahdat-Hagh
On 17 December 2012 15:53

Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, believes a dialogue with the U.S. Government is possible -– as reported in the Iranian media on December 11th. What is more, according to Mehmanparast, any willingness on behalf of the U.S. Government to talk with Iran would be a clear sign that the U.S. government "recognizes the realities in a better way now."

Mehmanparast speaks also of such a "recognition" on the Iranian side, although he stresses that there is no official offer for a dialogue. A significant question therefore is what the “Rahbar”, the supreme Iranian leader, thinks of the prospect of an Iranian-US dialogue. The answer, in a nutshell, is very little.

“Islam is not a servant of the dollar”, or so they say. Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, who would be pivotal in setting any date on which a dialogue between the “Great Satan” and the Iranian dictatorship might take place, has, until now at least, clearly signaled against any convergence with his declared archenemy.

Speaking recently, Khamenei was vociferous against the U.S. Government: "The enemies are afraid of the Islamic awakening…They are not worried about an Islam which is a slave of dollars, which decays in aristocratic life, which has no supporters among the people. But they are afraid of an Islam of actions. They are afraid of an Islam of the masses." (As reported by Farsnews, December 11th)

In fact, Iranian politicians demand the capitulation of the United States towards the Islamic dictatorship – something clearly at odds with Khamenei’s current interpretation of US foreign policy when he observes: "America always tries to destroy Islam and the Islamists, while smiling."

The Iranian leader spoke about the revolutions in the Arab world too: "We are not saying that they shall go directly in to a war against the world of arrogance [US and Europe]. But if they, at least, don’t keep away from them, the enemies will wipe them out. "

Khamenei’s stance is hardly designed as a means of confidence building; he knows that such statements don’t provide any basis for trust and dialogue. And it’s a policy which should not be tolerated in the West.

Iranian Air Force General Amirali Hajizadeh has recently glorified the weapons available to Lebanese Hezbollah. The Fajr-5 rockets, he says, "have a range of 75 km" and would be a "hundred times" more dangerous than the weapons used by the Palestinians in Gaza in the eight-day war against Israel.

And he’s not alone in his appraisal of terrorist arsenals. Khamenei himself has praised the weapons of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, thanking the extremist Islamist groups and expressing his regret that the Islamic world would not help the Shia opposition in Bahrain which wishes to expel American forces from the country.  Khamenei has also continued his defence of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, accusing the Syrian opposition of responsibility for the victims of the civil war.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Iran's Islamist pseudo-Parliament, Ali Larijani, spoke on December 5th 2012 of a “compass of change in the Middle East." This compass is determined by the rules of an Islamic triangle -- “The Iranian diamond, Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance” -- and is considered by Larijani to be the "axis of anti-colonial resistance in the last decade."

But what is important to remember is that this so-called "axis of resistance" is supported financially and militarily by Iran. The political objectives of the Iranian government are mainly about stabilizing its own power structures and pillars.

Ultimately, Iran's leaders see themselves as the vanguard of the ‘anti-colonial’ (read anti-American) struggle and in this context, it is difficult to envisage Khamenei endeavouring to open communication channels.

As well as its political and economic muscle, Iran’s leadership also seems intent on using its geographical assets to its advantage in its stand-off with the west.

Reflecting this stance, Admiral Alireza Tangsiri, deputy head of the Iranian Navy, said: "the ships of the Arabic Gulf states are forced to approach these [Persian] islands", adding that he believes Iran’s geopolitical situation to be "God-given".

Admiral Tangsiri knows that the straits of Persian Gulf are amongst the "most strategic regions of the world." Whoever owns and controls the 19 small islands therein has a "stable and non-submersible Aircraft carrier," he said.

According to Tangsiri, Iran intends to control all vessels passing through the Persian Gulf. It wishes to discover whom the vessels belong to and what they are really transporting. Iran has hinted that it would even use Revolutionary Guards' speedboats to guarantee controls.

Tangsiri has also warned Arab governments: "Today the foreign warships in the Persian Gulf ensure the existing conflicts. They disturb our security. Our neighbors must understand this.” It is an historical fact that the Iranian rulers incite the Arab governments to pursue anti-American and anti-Western policies.

The weight of evidence continues to show that Iran uses its geopolitical power to fulfill a regional leadership role in what it perceives to be an ‘anti-colonial’ struggle. It therefore remains difficult to imagine a time when the “Rahbar” might pick up the phone to the west.

Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) in Brussels

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