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Congress should be encouraging negotiations with Iran, not aping Israeli hawks

Middle EastUS Politics
on 7 Comments

Two weeks after 131 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a bipartisan letter calling for the Obama administration to advance a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear dispute with Iran, the House passed a new bill that imposes further sanctions on Iranian financial sectors and certain individuals. The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 (H.R.850) also cuts off Iran’s already sluggish oil trade. This quandary in the Congress came amid a softer tone from the White House towards the newly elected Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, that congratulated the Iranian people and saw the inauguration of Rouhani as an opportunity for Tehran to engage with the West. Together with the hawkish tone from the congress, this approach sends a perplexing and mixed signal to the Iranian officials.

The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act is contradictory by stating that “the United States should support freedom, human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law in Iran” while at the same time restricting Iranian people from dollars and euros to import necessary medicine, medical devices, and agricultural commodities. It also limits foreign financial institutions from facilitating transactions with Iranian banks regardless of the nature of the transaction.

Right after the provocative pro-sanction act of H.R.850 was passed, 16 Representatives signed a letter to House leadership expressing concern with the timing of the bill and recommending that “the House of Representatives should not preempt a potential opportunity” to secure a deal with Iranians through another set of sanctions. This sensible recommendation was followed by 76 senators signing another letter to President Obama, pushing for more sanctions. Without allowing time to observe the course taken by Rouhani, the letter strikes a hostile tone by calling for military options, saying the U.S. must reinforce “the credibility of our option to use military force at the same time as we fully explores a diplomatic solution to our dispute with Iran.”

Getting ready to deal with a suffering economy inherited from his pugnacious predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Iranian president commenting on the passage of the new Act said progress “should not be through the language of sanctions” but “through the language of discourse and respect.” Rouhani has called U.S.–Iranian relationship an “old wound that needs to be healed.”  

Although, at first blush, Rouhani seems to be a conservative and has never called himself a reformist, it’s too soon for Congress to judge him. After all, he has nominated a technocratic cabinet to the parliament and has spoken of political moderation in relation with the West and more transparency regarding Iran’s nuclear program. If the Obama administration and Congress are trying to work out a deal on the Iranian nuclear program and mid-east relations that extends to Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, they should avoid provocative actions and steer clear of the language that Israeli officials have used since the Iranian presidential election in June 2013. The path to peace in the middle east will be found by encouraging Rouhani’s eagerness to negotiate with the U.S. and its allies.

Aboozar Hadavand
About Aboozar Hadavand

Aboozar Hadavand is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the Graduate Center of City University of New York, and an instructor at Brooklyn College. Hadavand is interested in politics and socio-economic issues and has written for the policy blog PolicyMic.

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7 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 12, 2013, 10:36 am

    The GOP neocons and Democratic PEPs are determined to attack Iran. Everything they do is geared to force the issue, both here, and from the Iranian side. And they are doing this despite the American public’s war weariness, on-going economic Depression, and austerity, sequestration, etc. AIPAC does not seem to be worried about its high profile in this matter in post-Mearsheimer & Walt America. It seems the dice have already been rolled, or at least left the roller hand.

  2. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka
    August 12, 2013, 12:45 pm

    “Congress should be encouraging negotiations with Iran, not aping Israeli hawks”

    Well, but you must understand that Congress is not an independant organization with the USA’s best interest at heart. They’ve sold themselves to agents of an alien state and take order and do the bidding of that state.

  3. James Canning
    James Canning
    August 12, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Bravo. Sadly, Aipac in effect demanded the US Congress wreck any improvement in relations between the US and Iran, in wake of election of Rouhani.

  4. Mike_Konrad
    Mike_Konrad
    August 12, 2013, 3:21 pm

    Iran is a menace. Something has to be done.

    Israel is desperate. Were you smart, you could trade for Arabs getting building permits in exchange for the US giving military support to Israel.

  5. just
    just
    August 12, 2013, 4:37 pm

    We should normalize relations with Iran and behave properly wrt justice. Our national security needs to be foremost– normalization of relations with Iran is to our benefit…………

    Currently we seem to be sadly lacking in concern for humanity & justice in general, and only demonize others. Rouhani is completely correct:

    “Getting ready to deal with a suffering economy inherited from his pugnacious predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Iranian president commenting on the passage of the new Act said progress “should not be through the language of sanctions” but “through the language of discourse and respect.” Rouhani has called U.S.–Iranian relationship an “old wound that needs to be healed.””

    We are completely wrong– AGAIN and again. It’s insanity.

  6. James Canning
    James Canning
    August 12, 2013, 6:01 pm

    Yes, US should reopen Tehran embassy. Long overdue.

  7. Citizen
    Citizen
    August 13, 2013, 5:37 am

    The PNAC mentality is a wide-spread cancer in our Tweedldee-Tweedledum government. Symptoms are its very selective interventions. We all know the pattern.
    Chemotherapy needs to be directed at the Zionist head, AIPAC.

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