Dr. Al-Nasser Dreid
Since the collapse of the former Iraqi regime in 2003, US (The state that overthrew the regime and occupied the country with a promise to establish a new regime there) accepted a kind of secret partnership in running the country (paradoxically) with its first enemy in the Middle East namely the Iranian Regime. It is well known that this regime’s declared ties with US were cut since the detention of US embassy members in Tehran in 1979 (there are some offices, in the Swiss embassies of the two countries, working in the interest of both of them). This relation turned into a kind of declared enmity between both sides since then. However, both sides managed to avoid direct military confrontation during the 1980s with Iraqi Iranian confrontation in the First Gulf war (with the exception of the small confrontation between US and Iranian naval forces in the Gulf in April 1988 as a result of the collide of US frigate Samuel B Roberts with Iranian mine field. US forces decided to launch an attack, in return, four days later which destroyed Sasan oil platform, two F4 Iranian planes, Siri oil platform and some quick boats near Abu Musa peninsula. This operation was called Operation Praying Mantis following the Operation Nimble Archer in October 1987; when Iran launched missiles on the Kuwaiti oil tanker MV Sea Isle City. In return, US naval forces launched missiles on Iranian oil platforms in Rustom field that were used for military objectives by the Revolutionary Guard Corps. This operation followed an unsuccessful Operation Eagle Claw known in Iran by “Tabas” to save US embassy hostages in April 1980. All these operations were carried out under military control and never developed into wide-ranging clashes).
We shouldn’t forget the painful attacks launched by Iran’s arms in the region (ex Hezbollah’s attack on US embassy in Beirut in 1983 in which 17 Americans were killed and the 23rd of October of the same year’s attack on the multi-national peace keeping force building in Beirut where 241Americans ,58 French, 8 Lebanese including the attackers were killed. In addition to Saudi Al-khobar towers’, headquarters of the Coalition forces, attack in 1996 where 19 Americans were killed and 500 of different nationalities were injured. The attacks were carried out by Hezbollah Al-Hejaz). However both sides had to cooperate in more than one field. Afghanistan and Iraq cases are good examples of this cooperation (both sides cooperate to cause the Afghanistan Taliban Regime, mutual enemy of both of them, to collapse. Iran also supported Heart uprising against Taliban in 2001 with US and Britain). Iranian regime was classified by former President George W Bush in 2002 as one of the Axis of Evil. However he couldn’t avoid working with it especially in Iraq. Iran, to the surprise of many, expected a US serious step after September 11th, and knew that Iraq would be the next direction of US leadership in Afghanistan, a direction that aimed at turning the Middle East upside down. Tehran may be the third direction after Kabul and Baghdad if the matters go as Washington wishes. Tehran got ready early to deal with the new reality. Participation of the Supreme council of the Iranian Revolution (the main arm of the Iranian regime in Iraq before 2003) in London Conference in December 2002 is a clear indicator of obvious changes in Tehran(The council refused to participate in previous conferences in Vienna and New York because they were under US auspices!!) but in May 2003 (after one month of US occupation of Iraq), the Swiss government sent a one-page memorandum to US Ministry of State in which Swiss Diplomat Tim Guldimann put a road map to restart US –Iranian relations asserting Iran’s readiness to carry out the following
First: to agree on the Two-state solution in the Palestinian Israeli confrontation
Second: To stop supporting the Palestinian opposition organizations
Third: to put pressure on Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to turn into a civilian party
Fourth: to support the political stability and the establishment of democratic institutions in Iraq
Fifth: to take a decisive attitude towards terrorism everywhere especially in Iran itself (an indicator of the presence of Al-Qaeda organizations in Iran)
Sixth: to cooperate thoroughly with the International Atomic Energy Agency in order not to possess nuclear weapons in future.
In return, US agrees to start a mutual conversation, stop its efforts to overthrow the Iranian regime, lift sanctions on Iran, take steps to stop the support of the Iranian opposition, admit the legitimacy of the Iranian regional interests and Iran’s rights of peaceful use of nuclear, Bio and chemical energies. Guldimann asserted that this memorandum was prepared in cooperation with Sadegh Kharazi (former Iranian Ambassador in Paris) and the Murshid (Ali Khamenei) himself agreed on despite the absence of any formal declaration!! We will try to know the future of US Iranian relations in Iraq next week.