Stephen Fidler has, in his new article in Financial Times, has discusses recent report of Council of Foreign Relations taskforce in which it has been suggested that "the US should work with Iraqi government to disband Mojahedin-e khqlq."
July 19 2004
The US should abandon its policy of shunning Iran, stop talking about regime change and begin a dialogue with Tehran, according to a report from a Council of Foreign Relations taskforce published today.
The team from the prestigious New York-based policy group was chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, and Robert Gates, director of central intelligence under former president George Bush.
More than 25 years after the Iranian revolution, US-Iranian relations are trapped by the legacies of the past and the very real differences of the present, the report says. Yet US military intervention on Iran's borders in Afghanistan and Iraq has changed the geopolitical landscape in the region and may offer new incentives for dialogue.
The report says the lack of sustained engagement with Iran harms US interests and it recommends, among other things, that the US should stop trying to prevent Iranian engagement with international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. "US policies toward Tehran should make use of incentives as well as punitive measures," the report says, arguing that the prospect of commercial relations with the US could be a powerful lure for Iran.
However, Iranian exile groups, which the panel suggests have little influence inside or outside the country, strongly criticised the report.
"Dialogue can only embolden the mullahs, damage the goodwill that exists between most Iranians and America, and set back the cause of liberty," said a statement issued in Washington from three groups including the National Union for Democracy in Iran.
The council report also recommends the US lift its objections to Iran's civilian nuclear programme, as long as it is kept under stringent international safeguards, and give Tehran guarantees that it could purchase nuclear fuel at reasonable market rates. But in return Tehran should renounce permanently all uranium enrichment and plutonium producing capabilities.
The US should insist that Iran does not foment violence against the new Iraqi and Afghan governments or against coalition forces in those countries.
But it says Washington should work with the new Iraqi government to disband the Mujahidin-e Khalq organisation, a militia in Iraq that is intent on regime change in
Iran. About 4,000 MEK fighters have been detained by US-led forces in Iraq.
The taskforce says it is unrealistic to expect a "grand bargain" that would settle all outstanding conflicts between the two countries.
Instead, an approach of selective engagement on differences should be pursued on the pattern of US relations with China, or formerly with the Soviet Union.
On regional issues, the panel recommends a resumption of the talks in Geneva that were conducted for 18 months after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001.
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