Guidelines for Approaching Iran

Policy Outlook Carnegie Endowment
Summary
need for engagement with Iran is often cited as a major step in easing Middle East tensions and a matter of necessity to contend with Iran’s nuclear ambitions—yet remains a very difficult approach to implement.
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While the historic May 29 talks between the United States and Iran in Baghdad hinted at the possibility of renewed dialogue, the search for an effective foreign policy toward Iran has proven elusive for both U.S. and European administrations. The need for engagement with Iran is often cited as a major step in easing Middle East tensions and a matter of necessity to contend with Iran’s nuclear ambitions—yet remains a very difficult approach to implement. 

In this Carnegie Policy Outlook, Guidelines for Approaching Iran, Carnegie Endowment Associate Karim Sadjadpour points to current realities in Iran and existing difficulties that should guide any attempts to engage Iran and influence its policies.

Key conclusions:

• Given that Iran is integral to several issues of critical importance to U.S. and EU foreign policy—namely Iraq, nonproliferation, energy security, terrorism, and Arab-Israeli peace—avoiding dialogue with Iran is not an option and confronting it militarily would only worsen what the West seeks to improve.

• Iran’s reintegration into the global economy and improved ties with the United States will provide more fertile ground for political reform and marginalizing hardliners—a fact well understood by the small but powerful clique of hardliners in Tehran who are determined to undermine attempts at reconciliation.

• The cooperation of the EU, Russia, China, and India is key to resolving the current tensions over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.  Iran is adept at identifying rifts in the international community, and diplomatic efforts will unravel if each country approaches Iran with a different redline.

• Despite current U.S. concerns about Iranian influence in Iraq, Iran arguably has more common interests with the United States in that country than any of Iraq’s other neighbors. Shared interests should lead both countries to look to Iraq as a forum to build confidence.

• Abrupt domestic change in Iran is unlikely in the near term and would not necessarily lead to an improvement of the status quo. The only groups that are both armed and organized at the moment are not liberal democrats but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Bassij militia.

• Threatening military force against Iran weakens the position of moderates and strengthens hardliners.  Washington must disabuse Iran’s leadership that it is intent on the removal of the Islamic regime.

• Any type of U.S. engagement with Iran should address concerns about human rights in that country, including the recent detention of four U.S.-Iranian dual nationals.

• The Iranian government ultimately must make a strategic decision to change its own policies. What the West can do is attempt to facilitate Iranian decision making by formulating an approach that is more united and more nuanced, one that makes it clearer to Tehran that “goodwill will begets goodwill,” and reaffirms that a defiant approach will gain little and cost more.

Click on the link above for the full text of this Carnegie publication.

This is a web-only publication.

About the Author
Karim Sadjadpour is an associate in the Middle East and Nonproliferation programs at the Carnegie Endowment.

End of document

About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.

 
 
Source http://carnegieendowment.org/2007/06/19/guidelines-for-approaching-iran/1l9f

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45%

of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.

30%

of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.

140

charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.

2.5–5

thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.

92%

of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.

$2.34

trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.

37%

of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.

72%

of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.

90%

of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.

13%

of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.

17

U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.

40%

of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.

120

million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.

60–70%

of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.

58%

of today’s oils

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67%

of the world's population

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50%

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18%

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81%

of Brazilian protesters

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32

million cases pending

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1 in 3

Syrians

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370

political parties

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70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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