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from the September 24, 2001 edition

US and Iran must work together against

By R. K. Ramazani
Editor's Pick Photos Politics
Iran and America must put aside their serious differences for now to work on a mutual goal: stamping out the
When the
threat of Osama bin Laden's Taliban-harbored terrorist networks centered in Afghanistan.
Berlin Wall
came down
Iran's concerns with the Taliban are deep-rooted, and exceed those of any other regional power. Twenty years
Iran already hosts 1-1/2 million unwanted Afghan refugees, and has now closed its 580-mile border later, the rest of
the world is a
with Afghanistan. It nearly went to war with Afghanistan in 1998 in response to the Taliban soldiers' different place
murder of 10 Iranian diplomats and a journalist. It has supported the Northern Alliance's struggle because of that
against the Taliban forces.

Photos of the
Iran has lost some 3,000 troops in its war against Afghan drug smugglers.
And the Taliban regime has severed the flow of the Hirmand River, in
violation of an old Afghan-Iran agreement, turning Iran's largest fresh- E-mail this story
water body of water, Lake Hamoun, into a desert. Write a letter to
the Editor

Iran's sympathetic response to the American tragedy has been Printer-friendly

exceptional for a country under US economic siege for two decades. Only
hours after the Sept. 11 attack, President Muhammad Khatami
condemned it, as did Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other [ What is this? ]
officials have sent sympathetic messages, including one from the mayor digg
[ What is this? ]
of Tehran to the mayor of New York - the first public official contact POLITICS
between Iran and the US since the 1979 Iranian revolution. Iran has also Patchwork
sent a message through Canada that it will not oppose US military
The American voter
retaliation. beyond red and

More important, 60,000 spectators observed a minute of silence during a

Click here for full
soccer match in Iran's Azadi Stadium, and hundreds of young Iranians coverage.
held a candle-lit vigil in Tehran.
Daily podcast
Given the unprecedented convergence of American-Iranian interests in the fight against bin Laden- Monitor Reports
led terrorism, Tehran and Washington must find a creative way to work together. Richard Haass, Discussions with Monitor reporters from around the world

State Department director of policy planning, has floated the idea of a role for Iran in creating a US- by at 11/14/2009 8:33:16 PM
led coalition, but has not indicated how to make room for such a role. Today

I suggest three options: First, the administration may wish to explore how to link a US-led NATO The British PM says NATO can send more
troops to Afghanistan.
coalition with an anti-Taliban coalition including China, Russia, Iran, and India. This grouping was
formed long before Sept. 11. All its members share deep concerns over the threat of Taliban
support for exporting Islamic extremism. China regards "Islamic terrorism" as a threat not only to Subscribe in iTunes | RSS feed | All Audio
the vast northwest region of Xinjian, but also to China's "national unity." Russia blames its conflict
in Chechnya on Islamic terrorism, and also fears the spread of Islamic fundamentalism to Central

India's hostility toward Pakistan's pampering of the Taliban regime intertwines with the festering
dispute over Kashmir, as well as India and Pakistan's longstanding hostility. And Iran's concerns
with the Taliban regime mentioned above were reflected - during talks in April with Indian Prime
Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee - in Ayatollah Khamenei's call for greater cooperation among the
coalition members. After the attacks on America, senior coalition diplomats met in Tajikistan on
Sept. 13.

A second option may be to intensify cooperation with Iran within the existing United Nations "6 + 2
Group" of nations concerned with Afghanistan, of which Iran and the US are active members. For
example, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi MOST VIEWED
participated in a meeting of this group on Sept. 15, 2000, in which both Iran and the US were
1. 1080p YouTube videos? Um, sure.
represented. Ms. Albright stated at the meeting that she was encouraged by the similarity of views
2. Fort Hood review may challenge
between Washington and Tehran over the problems of Afghanistan, including human rights, political correctness up the ranks
terrorism, and narco-trafficking. 3. '2012' – movie review
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Finally, the best option may be for the US to fully support Britain's unprecedented discussion with
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Iran. Prime Minister Tony Blair revealed that he had a "remarkable conversation" with President released
Khatami on Sept. 20. Mr. Blair sent Foreign Minister Jack Straw to Tehran in a groundbreaking visit 6. China bans 'Obamao' shirt, fearing
offense to Obama
as part of efforts to bring Iran into an international coalition against terrorism, the first visit by a
7. Video: Bugatti Veyron for sale,
British foreign minister to Iran since the 1979 revolution. slightly damp
8. Fort Hood: If Nidal Malik Hasan talks,
will he live?
America recognizes that the antiterrorist campaign will be protracted, and that President Bush will
9. Holder in the dock as critics focus on
need to lead a coalition even greater than his father's against Iraq a decade ago. Considering that New York 9/11 terror trial
bin Laden terrorist networks spread throughout the Middle East, and that no other state in the 10. Who are Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
and the other accused terrorists?
region is as strategically prominent as Iran, the country's intelligence and logistical prowess is

During the Gulf War, then-Secretary of State James Baker III praised Iran's observance of UN
What happens when ordinary people decide
resolutions and recognized Iran's importance in any postwar security arrangements. t o p a y i t f o r w a r d ? E x t r a o r d i n a r y c h a n g e . See
how individuals are making a difference,
finding solutions, overcoming adversity, and
Today, the importance of that role is tenfold, and the need for Iran's cooperation, at least regarding giving back globally.

exchange of information and border collaborations, is that much greater. In fact, Iran has already
ruled out Mr. bin Laden's entry onto its soil if he leaves Afghanistan. Given the well-known US-Iran
differences, neither country should couple its broader concerns with the immediate task of
preparing for military action against the Taliban regime.

Conceivably, even indirect US-Iran cooperation at this extraordinary strategic moment could ease To address South
Africa's huge
the current impasse in their relations, and may well lead, in the long run, to the necessary education gap, José
Bright helps students
government-to-government talks between them. achieve, one by one.
Melanie Stetson
• R.K. Ramazani is the Edward R. Stettinius Professor Emeritus of Government and Foreign
Educating South Africa's kids, one by one
Affairs at the University of Virginia, and co-editor (with John L. Esposito) of 'Iran at the José Bright flew in as a consultant, but decided
to stay and become a real force for change.
Crossroads," (Palgrave, 2001). Learn More | All Stores

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• A Road Map for US-Iran Relations American-Iranian Council
• Closing Remarks by R.K. Ramazani, The U.S. Congress
and Iran: Twenty Years After the Revolution Middle East
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