The detail discussions regarding Issues in ME. Iran.

US policy.. in ME Institute

Read it Ior yourselI about how OIIicials and thinktanks think about the above issues in absence oI Iranians. OI
course there is no deIense Irom Iranian side. no one to show their side oI story. But it is inIormative enough to show
how dirty they play the game. at the same time they expect others to play it clean. As a matter oI Iact since they
believe in 'Ends iustiIies the Means¨. they teach others how to play dirty in politics. And that is a SHAME on
humanity.!!?
The content below. has been copied Irom MEI site completely.

Introduction:
MEI President Wendy Chamberlin: Good morning and welcome. On behalI oI the Middle East Institute I would
like to extend a very warm welcome to the diplomatic corps who has ioined us today. all oI the Iriends oI MEI who
are our special guests today. A very special welcome to our expert guests who have Ilown in Irom the region and
will be participating on the panels throughout the day.
As a word oI introduction. the Middle East Institute has a long tradition extending over 60 years as a nonproIit
organization dedicated to promoting knowledge and understanding between the people oI the Middle East and the
United States. The conIerence today. 'Iran on the Horizon.¨ is organized by MEI in the MEI spirit oI non-partisan.
non-advocacy discussion that results in better understanding. That is our obiective: better understanding.
Iran has been a topic in the news over the past several months and I am sure today`s conIerence will raise questions
about how the United States deals with the serious challenges that are beIore us. Much has been said and written.
Iran has been labeled as part oI the 'axis oI evil.¨ a threat to regional stability. a potential nuclear proliIerator. The
recent National Intelligence Estimate now indicates Iran`s nuclear threat may not be so imminent. and that
contradicts the administration`s earlier prediction. Or does it? In many ways the new twist in our analysis raises
more questions than answers. What are Iran`s intentions? Who really speaks Ior Iran? Is isolating Tehran the right
approach? What advice do Iran`s neighbors have Ior us to diminish the perceived threat to stability in the region?
Has the apparent threat oI a US attack on Iranian nuclear sites actually begun to undermine Ahmadineiad`s
popularity? Has it opened up the possibility oI a maior shiIt in Iran`s domestic politics in next month`s elections or
the contrary?
To understand these questions and much more. the Middle East Institute believes we need to listen and engage with
the people oI the region. MEI is pleased to host leading scholars on Iran and GulI security. We have invited experts
Irom the United Arab Emirates. Kuwait. Saudi Arabia and Lebanon who can add a Iresh voice to the debate. They
provide a valuable perspective Irom the very region that is most aIIected by the threat and policies we pursue to deal
with them.
The panelists will make remarks and then open to your questions. Again. MEI is delighted to host all oI you today. I
would like to take a minute to especially thank our corporate donors. Dyncorp and to all oI the many government
oIIicials who have helped us. including State INR and others who have cooperated. oIIered us advice as we put
together this panel and been very supportive.
Finally. the Middle East Institute oIIers today`s program as a unique opportunity Ior discourse. II you value what
you hear and see today. you might want to express your appreciation by making a tax-deductible contribution to the
Middle East Institute which would enable us to put on programs like this in the Iuture. Now. to our Iirst panel.
looking at Iran`s intentions and its internal power centers.
Ken Pollack: It is wonderIul to be back here at MEI. It is wonderIul to be here on this panel. I have an interesting
role on this panel. I have been asked to serve as both moderator. to keep the pace moving. and also to be one oI the
speakers. So I am going to try very hard to perIorm both.
I am delighted to be associated with this panel because the truth oI the matter is it is all about intentions when it
comes to Iran. Yes. we spend a lot oI time debating capabilities. But the simple Iact oI the matter is that the reason
we spend all this time debating capabilities is because we are so concerned about Iran`s intentions. Think back. Ior
those oI you in this room who can do so. to 20 to 25 years ago when Pakistan was at a similar stage in its pursuit oI a
nuclear capability. I remember at least one book. 'The Islamic Bomb.¨ that tried to raise alarm about what this
might mean Ior Israel and the United States but there certainly was not the overIlowing bookshelves that we have
today oI people warning oI the dire consequences oI Iran`s acquisition oI this capability. And that is because oI our
Iears oI Iranian intentions.
OI course it is easy to take counsel oI your Iears when it comes to Iranian intentions because we know so little about
them. The Iranian regime is both labyrinthine and badly opaque. We have a terriIic panel today who I think is going
to do as well as any in trying to pierce the veil that surrounds Iranian decision-making but I think all oI us would
start out by saying that you need to take everything that we say with a grain oI salt. This is a very. very diIIicult
regime to understand. I have always believed that iI we could somehow get Ali Akbar Hashemi RaIsaniani. the most
establishment Iigure oI Iran iI we could tie him up to a chair sitting right there and pump him Iull oI sodium
pentothal and get him to speak Ior 12 hours about the Iranian regime. he could not tell us exactly what was going on.
The simple Iact is that it is a very complex set oI interactions that guides Iranian decision-making. It is very hard
even Ior insiders to Iully grasp all oI its complexities. let alone to be able to predict what this regime is likely to do
next.
I am ioined by a wonderIul group who I am delighted to be here with. I am going to give some very brieI
introductions and then launch into a very quick talk oI my own. Immediately to my right is Gary Sick. who is
currently Senior Research Scholar at SIPA`s Middle East Institute at Columbia University. I think Gary is well
known to all oI you. He was at the National Security Council under Presidents Ford. Carter and Reagan. Among his
many other achievements he wrote the superb book 'All Fall Down.¨ which iust a Iew years ago I had the
opportunity to re-read. All I can tell you and I have no reason to say this. I could iust as easily have skipped over it
it is such a remarkable achievement. For those oI you who have not read it or have not read it recently. it is worth
going back and reading through that to get a sense oI what was going on at the time both here and in Tehran.
To Gary`s leIt is Hooshang Amirahmadi. Hooshang is Iounder and president oI the American-Iranian Council. He is
also a proIessor at Rutgers University`s Bloustein School oI Planning and Public Policy. He has served as Director
oI Rutgers` Center Ior Middle East Studies and he is also an extremely well-known and well-regarded commentator
on Iranian aIIairs.
Finally is John Limbert. John is currently at the US Naval Academy but John was our ambassador to Mauritania as a
capstone oI a long career in the Foreign Service. which included most Iamously a 14-month posting to Tehran as a
guest oI the Islamic Republic oI Iran.
Finally there is me. I am Ken Pollack. I am Director oI Research at the Saban Center Ior Middle East Policy. I guess
my greatest achievement is that eventually I succeeded Gary at the National Security Council.
With those brieI introductory remarks. let me say a little bit about my own thoughts about Iranian intentions. Again.
we have a very broad writ on this panel and I welcome my panelists to talk about any aspect oI Iranian intentions
they want to. I thought I would actually talk a little bit about Iran in Iraq. I would do that both because it is an
important topic and I do not know how much we are going to get into it today and I think it is important on the table.
But Ior me it is also a very nice little case study oI Iranian intentions that I think is worth thinking about. and
thinking about what it may mean about Iran`s broader intentions towards the United States. towards the region.
towards its own Iuture.
BeIore the invasion oI Iraq. it is worth remembering. the Bush administration and the Iranian government had a very
extensive back channel relationship. It was developed aIter 9/11 as a result oI the AIghan war. in which the Iranians
were extremely helpIul to the US government extremely helpIul in providing intelligence and assistance beIore the
war; extremely helpIul during the war itselI. Prior to the invasion oI Iraq. in particular prior to the 'axis oI evil¨
speech. the Iranians gave every indication that they saw that the United States was now turning its attention to Iraq.
that we were thinking hard about an invasion oI Iraq and the Iranians indicated that iI we were going to do that they
wanted to help with that as well.
Obviously the people who were working with our own Iolks it is not entirely clear what writ they had Irom
Tehran. how much they were pushing the edge oI the envelope. and to what extent they were actually authorized to
make these suggestions to the Americans. But that is clearly what their American interlocutors took away Irom these
diIIerent meetings. The way that I might phrase it is that whatever the debate was in Tehran. and I think we can
assume that there was a rather rowdy debate in Tehran because there seems to be a rowdy debate in Tehran over
every issue under the sun. but at the very least it seems to have been the case that the Iranians were no more IearIul
oI a US conquest and the creation oI a democracy in Iraq than they were desirous oI Saddam`s removal. They were
in Iact more desirous oI Saddam`s removal than they were IearIul oI the execution oI American power. the
demonstration oI America`s ability to topple Middle Eastern regimes and install a democracy in Iraq. I am sure there
were Iranians who were aIraid oI that but they do not seem to have been winning out at that point in time.
That was also maniIested in the actual invasion and the early days oI the occupation oI Iraq. Early on during the
invasion itselI. the Iranians minded their Ps and Qs and did pretty much exactly what the Bush administration
wanted them to do. which was to sit on the sidelines. not make trouble which they certainly had a tremendous
capacity to do. both overtly and covertly. had they chosen to do so. And then beyond that. the Iranians actually were
quite helpIul to the United States. Again. I think it is worth keeping that in mind.
In early years oI the reconstruction there was a split pattern and I am going to talk about the other halI oI it in a
second but at the end oI the day a lot oI what Iran did in Iraq was actually very helpIul to the United States. OI
greatest importance. they seem to have told all oI their allies inside Iraq and I think that is the right way to think
about them; it is a mistake to think oI the various Shi`a groups as proxies or puppets oI Iran. These are independent
groups but they are allies oI Iran in some way. shape or Iorm. Even there. the closeness oI the ties varies greatly both
Irom group to group and even within groups. But it does seem very clear. all the inIormation we had at the time was
that the Iranians were telling their various allies inside Iraq: go along with what the Americans are doing. We have
no problem with what the Americans say they are going to do in Iraq the creation oI a democracy in Iraq. which
inevitably the Shi`a will dominate simply because oI their demographics. That was extremely important. That
brought key groups who we were very aIraid might not participate. who might in Iact oppose our eIIorts in Iraq that
brought them into the process as Iull partners. That was actually critical in making the progress that we made in
those early years. As bad as it was. it could have been inIinitely worse.
By the same token though. the Iranians were up to other things (as they typically are). In particular we saw the
Iranians immediately begin to build a very extensive intelligence network inside Iraq. Large numbers oI Iranian
intelligence oIIicials moved into Iraq and began setting up saIe houses. communications networks. arms conduits
and arms caches. buying agents oI inIluence. soliciting greater assistance Irom various Iraqi Iorces. making
overtures to more and more Iraqi groups doing everything that you would need to do to wage a covert war in Iraq
except actually pulling the trigger.
My read at the time was that this reIlected both a debate inside oI Tehran and probably a debate in the minds oI
many Iranian policymakers. and it probably also reIlected a desire on the part oI the Supreme Leader to placate what
were probably the two most likely sides oI the argument in Tehran. One group who was saying chaos is the greatest
threat in Iraq and we cannot allow Iraq to descend into chaos. And what`s more. iI the Americans do what they say
they are going to and build a democracy in Iraq. the Shi`a will inevitably be ascendant and whether or not they are
our best Iriends they certainly will not be our enemies. They certainly will not attack us the way Saddam Hussein
did and that is probably good enough. That is probably the best we can hope Ior in Iraq. There were oI course no
doubt others in Iran who were probably arguing Ior a much more aggressive policy: a much more aggressive policy
toward the Iraqi Sunni population. a much more aggressive policy to put their own people in charge and a much
more aggressive policy against the United States. arguing that the American presence in Iraq was what was the most
damaging and threatening to Iran. In my mind. this explained the split that you saw. On the one hand Khamenei was
saying: go along with the process. II the Americans do what they say they are going to we can live with that. But at
the same time giving a sop to the hardliners but also creating what I Ielt was Iran`s Plan B. In case the Americans
either do not do what they say they are going to do and launch some kind oI invasion or they are not up to the iob.
we have a Plan B. We can wage covert war in Iraq iI we need to do so.
In the Iall oI 2006 all oI that seemed to change. As Iraq descended into chaos. Iran`s involvement in Iraq greatly
escalated. In particular. Iran`s provision oI weaponry. oI EFPs (explosively Iorged proiectiles. which are nothing but
American-killers) skyrocketed. You saw a much more aggressive Iranian move and by and large the activation oI
this intelligence network which had been established starting in 2003 but which had lain dormant through most oI
2004 and 2005. When I was in Iraq in the summer oI 2007 I had a number oI people. as part oI this change in Iranian
strategy. who used this wonderIul phrase that the Iranians are 'putting money on every number on the roulette
wheel¨ in Iraq. They are supporting every single militant group in Iraq. They put more money on some numbers
than others but they are supporting every single number on the roulette wheel.
There were many things that happened at that time. There was the chaos in Iraq but this was also the time when
Ahmadineiad`s star seemed to be most on the ascent. There were any number oI events that occurred that seemed to
indicate that Ahmadineiad and the radicals were increasingly in control oI Iranian policy. not least the replacement
oI Ali Lariiani by Saeed Jalili. a much more hardline Iigure; stiIIing the international community on nuclear
negotiations and a series oI other things. So it is hard to know exactly what was going on because there were many
things going on.
In the Iall oI 2007 that seemed to change again. The last three or Iour months. the US military is reporting that
Iranian support Ior those same groups is diminishing iust as rapidly as it ascended in late 2006. Four things have
happened in the last six to eight months. all oI which may have contributed to that change.
First. you had the beginning oI US-Iranian talks in Baghdad over this issue oI the Iuture oI Iraq. Second. the US
military took much more aggressive measures to physically prevent the Iranians Irom providing these weapons and
other supplies to the various Iraqi groups. Third. there were a series oI threats by the Bush administration toward the
Iranians that iI they did not cease and desist in Iraq there would be bigger trouble. Fourth. there was a very important
shiIt in the conditions on the ground in Iraq. to a point where Iraq went Irom spiraling out oI control into utter chaos
to the point where at least halI the country has largely stabilized. There is reason to believe that it may actually be on
the upward ascent.
What that says to me is that what happened in 2006 probably was a combination oI all Iour oI these events. Again. it
is extremely diIIicult Ior us to know exactly what is going on in Tehran. Ior us to discern Iranian intentions. But as I
read it. I think the decision-makers in Tehran probably were inIluenced by all oI these things. That said. I would
argue that the last point I made was probably the most important and in my mind reinIorces this early perspective
that I had on Iranian involvement there. What happened in 2006 was not iust the rise oI the hardliners and thereIore
their greater ability to push their own program but also the Iact that there was a sense in Tehran. iust as there was a
sense in Washington and every other capital in the world that in 2006 Iraq was going down the tubes.
II Iraq was spiraling out oI control into utter chaos then there was no particular reason not to activate Plan B. to not
simply do whatever Iran needed to do to deIend its interests. II that meant coming into greater conIlict with the
Americans. so be it. We need to remember that while we talk a lot about Iran`s ability to positively inIluence things
in Iraq. and they certainly have some ability to do so. they have the greatest ability to do harm in Iraq something
that is true Ior all oI Iraq`s neighbors. a much greater ability to do harm than to do good. I think a lot oI what was
happening in 2006 was simply the Iranians trying desperately to buy inIluence with the diIIerent Iraqi groups to save
their own speciIic interests in the context oI a situation in Iraq that was spiraling out oI control. When we stabilized
the situation in 2007 that Iundamentally changed the context and that allowed some oI these other things that were
going on. in particular the combination oI threats and a greater willingness to bring Iran into the process. perhaps
gave those pragmatic elements in Tehran that we love to talk about a little greater purchase to be able to carry the
argument once again.
So to sum up. what do I take away Irom all this? II my read is correct. and all I can tell you is that I believe my read.
so what I take away Irom it is that Iran`s intentions are a work in progress. They change. like the intentions oI many
countries. based on the circumstances that they encounter. I do not think that Iran`s intentions are immutably Iixed
and it is incapable Ior the United States or some other actor to change them. I think the Iranians are opportunistic. I
think they are a bit paranoid. I think they are very concerned about protecting their interests. iust as we saw them do
in Iraq. But they are not irrationally aggressive. They calculate. make decisions. They have their own internal
politics to take into account. Last but not least. while it may be the case and I think that this is the case that the
United States is their greatest adversary. we may not necessarily be their greatest threat. Thank you.
Gary Sick: Thank you very much. Ken. It is a real pleasure to be here today. among other things. since I spend most
oI my time in New York. catching up with a lot oI old Iriends who I do not see that oIten. It is always wonderIul to
come back to the Middle East Institute. Although many oI you probably suspect that I am simply doing email up
here that`s what my students do in class and I am always suspicious oI them actually I am not doing email or
trying to keep up with GulI2000 or something.
What I want to talk about is what we can learn about Iranian intentions. and our own intentions to some degree. by
looking back and thinking about how we got here and what we have learned along the way. US policy since the
Iranian revolution has tended to regard Iran as a totally new creature and mysterious and unpredictable. In some
respects that has absolutely been true. Certainly Iran has changed dramatically since the days oI the Shah. But I
would argue. and I think many people are starting to realize. that maybe the radical change is not as radical as it
appeared at the beginning and we are beginning to see Iran moving back into a situation that it was in beIore.
Let me start by pointing out that Iran is in Iact emerging as the leading regional power in the GulI. The reason Ior
that is really quite simple it is us. 'We have met the enemy and it is us¨ Pogo`s Iamous line. In reality aIter 9/11
the United States quickly went into AIghanistan and took out the Taliban. which was Iran`s worst enemy to the east.
Then beIore that iob was even over we turned around and attacked Iraq and took out the Saddam Hussein
government. which was Iran`s worst enemy to the west. Then we were kind enough to oversee the establishment oI a
Shi`a government in Baghdad Ior the Iirst time in history. At the end oI that game Iran was a lot stronger than they
had been beIore. Although I agree completely with Ken that Iran had shown some willingness to cooperate with us
along the way. the reality is that we gave them that. That was our giIt to Iran and our problem since that time has
been trying to Iigure out what do we do about it now that we have created it.
That makes me think back. as someone who has been around this whole business longer than I probably should have
been I can actually think back that Iar. most oI you cannot the two-pillar policy that the United States had
adopted as the British were withdrawing Irom the Persian GulI. In that period the United States was actually
responsible Ior promoting Iran to a position oI primary. We called it the two-pillar policy but everybody who knew
the policy realized it was one pillar and a small pillar Ior Saudi Arabia on the other side. The Arabs remember very
well that we were the ones who actually promoted Iran as the regional hegemon. iI you like. They were the country
that was supposed to protect our interests in the region and we designated them as our supporter. The Arabs. as they
look at the present situation and see what we did aIter 9/11 and see Iran emerging once more with our assistance
directly. are perhaps entitled to wonder iI we are not up to our old tricks.
I think most oI the Arabs actually suspect that that is in Iact what is going on. that we are in Iact promoting Iran to a
position oI primary. We say we are out to take them down but then when you look at what we actually do it does not
seem to compute. They would think back. and I think all oI us would be wise to think back. to the Reagan
administration. which was also extremely anti-Iran. and the Iran-Contra aIIair. where we ended up suddenly
changing sides and selling them arms. cutting a secret deal behind the backs oI the Arabs and at the end oI the day
creating a new set oI circumstances on the ground. The Arabs certainly do remember that whether you remember it
or not.
So Irom the Arab perspective we simply could not stay away Irom Iran. We were attracted back to them in each
case.
What does Iran actually want? I am going to Iocus particularly in terms oI their nuclear strategy and also think back
a little bit Ior that point oI view.
First oI all. I think it is important to point out that although Iran is in Iact building a nuclear inIrastructure and
there is no question about that they have been remarkably slow in that process. Most countries that have attempted
to devise and build a covert nuclear capability. Irom the time they took the decision until they actually had some
kind oI a device in hand usually was Iive to six years. something in that neighborhood. Iran made its decision to go
Ior a nuclear inIrastructure in about 1985. Now it is 22 years and counting and what have they got? They have got
roughly 3.000 centriIuges turning. with a lot oI people in the room watching what they are doing. The point here is
not that they have not made progress; the point is that they have not been progressing nearly as Iast as most other
countries have that in Iact decided to go Ior a nuclear weapon.
Iran is aware. as Mr. El Baradei has said on a number oI occasions. that there are approximately 40 countries in the
world that are capable oI going Irom a peaceIul nuclear program to a military program in a certain amount oI time.
They have the capability to do it; it is iust a matter oI whether they decide to do it or not. Iran Iully intends to ioin
that club oI 40 countries. There are certain countries. like Japan. who are said to have the capability. iI they wanted
to go Ior a nuclear weapon it would be a long weekend to be able to produce it. Other countries. like Taiwan or
Brazil. it would take longer. But there are lots oI countries that have that capability. We live with that every single
day. As Ken pointed out. it is all about intentions. II you are not worried about that other country being aggressive or
attacking. you do not see it as an immediate threat. then you can live with the Iact that they have a nuclear
inIrastructure that would permit them to go Ior a bomb. You can live with that on a regular basis and we do in Iact
around the world.
I would take you back however to the Shah`s policies beIore the Iranian revolution. We have now the memoirs oI
many oI the people who worked most closely with him at the time. We have a pretty good idea oI what he was up to.
There were a lot oI suspicions that the Shah was in Iact building a nuclear capability and that is what he was secretly
doing. His closest advisors now say that yes. he was in the sense that he was going to create a nuclear inIrastructure
that would give him the capability oI deciding to go Ior a bomb and that he would be able to produce one in about
eighteen months. That was the nominal period that he had in mind. He called that a surge capability. interestingly
enough that was the Shah`s own terminology Ior it. But the reality is that he wanted to have the ability and the
Ilexibility that iI in Iact somebody threatened Iran in a way that he Ielt that they needed to brandish a larger stick.
that he would be able to brandish that stick that he could have a bomb in a relatively short period oI time and stop
and think about that.
Nobody can prove it precisely but it is my own view that that is exactly what Iran is doing today. They are putting in
place the inIrastructure they would need and I think the amount oI time between the decision to actually build a
bomb and when it would actually be available to them varies a lot. The latest NIE says that it is three to seven years.
Probably iI you had the intelligence community do an examination oI the Shah`s program back in the mid-1970s
they would have said about three to seven years is what it would take Ior the Shah to get a bomb iI he decided to go
Ior it. The Iirst time I heard three to Iive years was in Iact in 1991 when the US secretary oI deIense was visiting
Israel and the Israelis were saying three and we were saying Iive. in terms oI a press conIerence. That is a number
that has remained all the way through. I do not take that as a ioke. I think it is an important number. But we have
now gone Ior more than thirty years and Iran has not taken that decision to use up those three to Iive years. to
actually produce a nuclear weapon. In one way that is not entirely comIortable Ior many people. because we would
rather they not have that capability at all. But iI they are determined to get it. it is going to be very hard to prevent
them Irom getting it.
So what should the US obiective be under these circumstances? I think our obiective is quite clear: we want to keep
them as Iar as possible Irom a bomb. II it is going to be three to seven. we would like to have it more like seven
years beIore they can actually do it. I think we would like to be in the position to know when they take that decision
very shortly aIter they take it. that we would know that is in Iact what they are doing. That means a lot oI
transparency.
Other people are going to be talking about this in the course oI the day and I am not going to belabor the point but I
do think it is important.
Let me touch very brieIly on Iran`s policy in Iraq. Ken. I agree with you very much on your take about the way Iran
has proceeded on this. Let me cast your mind back however. thinking about Iran`s policy in Iraq. to 1972-73. when
President Nixon and Henry Kissinger did a deal with the Shah to destabilize Iraq by supporting the Kurds. That
process. which has never been Iully covered but is quite well known. continued very vigorously until 1975 two to
three years that it was in Iull Iorce running. The Shah ran into Saddam Hussein on the edges oI an OPEC meeting in
Algiers. Saddam made him an oIIer he couldn`t reIuse: we will settle our border disputes and resolve our
outstanding problems but you have to stop this support Ior the Kurds up in the north. The Shah came home. stopped
it immediately and Barzani was Iorced to Ilee the country. and there was not really anything we could do about it.
He did not consult us in advance and he saw an opportunity to support his own stability. his own security. He
grabbed it and he did not care what we thought about it. We had to live with it basically.
There are a couple oI morals one can take Irom this. The main one is that Iran`s obiectives in Iraq have been and
continue to be driven by security concerns much more than ideology. When we think about creating a policy
involving Iran we should think about that and take it seriously. It puts a diIIerent cast on the way you think about
policymaking.
My own homily here. the bottom line. is that throughout this history. going back to the days oI the Shah right up
through the present. on both sides oI the US-Iran divide domestic policy trumps Ioreign policy. Both sides are driven
by their own domestic concerns and the policies that we make in regard to each other are in Iact much more a
Iunction oI our own domestic situation than they are the actual Ioreign policy problems oI trying to deal with each
other. Under the Shah. we Iorget he was supposed to be our great Iriend but on oil prices he was not our Iriend at
all. It was domestic issues that made him a hawk on oil prices. The hostage crisis and we have one oI the world`s
greatest experts on the hostage crisis sitting at the end oI the table was driven by domestic issues. The reason that
it went on so long was not because we were incapable oI negotiating or because there was nobody to talk to. It was
because it was serving Iran`s domestic political purposes to keep it going. When those obiectives were accomplished
the problem was resolved. The missed opportunities that we talk about a great deal between the United States and
Iran are also in most cases created by domestic concerns. It is domestic politics that prevent us Irom doing the kind
oI deal.
Finally. I am seeing some signals in the presidential election right now that at least a couple oI the Democratic
candidates are talking seriously about whether and how they might talk to Iran. That is a new sign. I have not heard
people talk about that in public beIore and it suggests that maybe our domestic politics are at a point that would
actually permit that to happen. As a result I think that 2009 is likely to be a really Iascinating moment because we
are going to have a new president and Iran has a presidential election in that same spring. I am going to be very
interested to see how that plays out. Thank you.
Hooshang Amirahmadi: Good morning. Thanks to the Middle East Institute Ior the invitation. It is an honor to
speak here. I have been given this iob to explain the structure oI power in Iran. As Ken said. RaIsaniani would not
be able to do it in twelve hours and I am supposed to do it in IiIteen minutes. But what I am going to do is get some
help Irom my assistant to put up an outline oI the structure but please listen to me and do not try to read that it is a
very complex situation.
I would say the one area where we have really understudied Iran is the structure oI its power. The question oI who
speaks Ior Iran and what are the intentions oI Iran really in the end come to the point oI who really runs the country.
In a nutshell. that country is run by a person called Ayatollah Khamenei. Let`s put that on the table at the very
beginning and I will explain to you how that power structure at the end oI the day ends up there. but then it also
Ilows Irom there into so many other places that really constraint it in certain ways. But iI there is one person to
listen. the one person to talk to. that would be Mr. Khamenei. Whether we like him or do not like him is a diIIerent
issue. That is the person to talk to.
One good news about Iran is that it does have a structure. the power has a structure. It is not like some oI our allies
in the Middle East that when you look at them you only see a Iew people. This system has a structure oI power in
place and that structure is way beyond reIormist vs. conservative. hardliners or pragmatics. Those are the people
around that we see. These are not structures that we want to look at. Because we have not seen the structure close up
we have tremendous misconceptions about Iran and we are always surprised about developments in that country
suddenly Ahmadineiad is president. suddenly Khatami is president because we really do not understand what
really is happening inside that political system.
To understand Iran`s political structure you have to start with the goal oI the 1979 revolution. That revolution had
three goals. simply: Islam. democracy and independence. Islam was the religious or ideological backbone.
Democracy was put up against the dictatorship oI the Shah. Independence was something against the United States
oI America in a way. The constitution that was deIined and written in those days reIlects these three goals. In Iact
the guys who wrote the constitution made sure these three goals oI the Islamic Republic are somehow built into it.
For example. a very important aspect oI this constitution is to reconcile Islam with democracy. II you look at the
whole structure oI the constitution you will see that the constitution is struggling between Islam and democracy.
On the one hand you have religious authorities. on the other hand you have popular. The very name oI the Islamic
Republic Islam is the religious. theocratic side oI it and Republic is the popular. people`s side oI it. It is God sitting
here and the people sitting there. Then the question was how God and the people work together. That is what the
constitution tried to do. to deIine the relationship at the end oI the day. the people cannot be over their God. The
people have to Iollow God. But the people are not iust a set oI subiects that have no say. even in Islam. So the
people say things but at the end oI the day it is the God that rules. It is the God that will decide. The God is
represented by velayet-e-Iaqih and the people are represented by the other institutions.
So in a way there are two sets oI institutions built within the Islamic constitution. the institutions we call unelected
or non-elected and the institutions which are elected. II you look at it careIully. always the elected institutions come
back to the unelected but under it. So always the circuit oI power is the unelected rules over the elected. In the
unelected you have the leader. the House oI Leadership. the velayet-e-Iaqih Ayatollah Khamenei now. originally
Khomeini. Then you have the Guardian Council. the Expediency Council and a set oI other unelected institutions
that even in this country are unelected. the iudicial system and so on.
Then there are elected. There are three maior elected institutions built into the constitution: the presidency. the
parliament and the Assembly oI Experts. The way these institutions are connected to each other is Iascinating within
the constitution and in practice. Let`s take the Assembly oI Experts. The Assembly oI Experts is to decide who
should be the leader oI the Islamic Republic. Theoretically that Assembly decides whether Ayatollah Khamenei can
continue as leader. The question is the people who would make that decision are already decided by other
institutions and thereIore it is made certain that they will not be in a position to do what they are supposed to do. For
example. there is the Guardian Council who will vet the people who run Ior the Assembly oI Experts. The Guardian
Council itselI is appointed. 50 percent by the leader and the other 50 percent is nominated by the parliament but
actually appointed by the iudiciary system. The head oI the iudiciary then is appointed by the leader. So the leader
already decides who should tell the leader to stay or not. That is how the system works.
Still. within that system the power structure does indeed allow Ior certain democracy or certain democratic
processes. As I said. the struggle within the constitution is always how to maintain the dominance oI Islam in a
society where the population is also given some voice. For example. you see that the constitution creates a series oI
parallel and not iust parallel but multiple centers oI power to deal with that issue.
ThereIore to understand the structure oI power in Iran. the Iirst thing you have to do is read very careIully the
constitution. It is not an irrelevant document. Certainly it is the place to start. But iI you were iust to stay with that
document you would miss a lot in the structure oI power and how the Islamic Republic is run. There is the Iormal
structure oI power which is there actually. I iust explained to you the way the system works. You have the people
who are in the streets electing a president. Ior example. but the president himselI is being vetted (in terms oI who
can run) by the Guardian Council. who is appointed 50 percent by the leader and so on.
The Iranian system is a unitary system oI government. versus let`s say Iederalism. The diIIerence between
Iederalism and a unitary system is very important to understand. Under Iederalism it is the territory that rules. it is
the Iunction. that is at the top it is the territory versus the Iunction. It is not the circle oI ministers that are very
powerIul. it is the governors. Ior example. the states. In Iran the structure oI power is such that it is the Iunction that
is important. The ministers are more important than the provincial governors. It is a vertical system. It is a system
that is centered in Iran. all the way to the village that is territorially. Functionally it starts with the leader all the
way to the people in the streets. So it is important to understand that that system operates the way any system that is
unitary. such as France and so on.
But most recently there is a maior trend in Iran that we cannot miss. That trend. actually Ahmadineiad has started. is
to strengthen the territory versus Iunction -- basically. empowering the governors against the ministers. That is a
maior issue that I do not have time to go through but that is where we need to also put our attention to.
Aside Irom the unelected and elected oIIicials in the Islamic Republic. you have a set oI other institutions that
whether they are elected or not elected. they are very important and actually becoming more important. One oI that
particular group is what I call military security institutions oI power. That includes the National Security Council.
the Army and most importantly IRGC and the Qods Forces. the basiii Iorces. the police Iorces and so on. There is a
securitization and militarization oI that power structure. The power structure in Iran is becoming increasingly not
iust politicized but also security and military-related. OI course this is the byproduct oI the United States`
counterproductive policies toward Iran because the environment around which Iran now lives or the environment
inside Iran is a military/security environment. Within a military/security environment people like me. with ties and
nice suits. will not be operating there. Under that particular environment you have military people. the people who
have guns. people who have secret inIormation. rule the country. That is what is happening actually.
Just like any other power structure. the Iranian power structure does include a lot oI what I call ideological
apparatuses oI power. Irom the mosques to Friday prayers. the schools and universities. the media and so on. Many
oI these are being controlled by the government and directly by the leader.
There is another thing we need to consider as we look at the power structure and that is the inIormal power structure
in Iran versus the Iormal structure that I tried to explain. In Iact the power in Iran is organized into a Iew concentric
zones oI power. There is what I call the elite makers center. or the zone right in the middle oI the center. These are
people like Khamenei. RaIsaniani. Khatami and others who really are not elite they are elite makers. They make
presidents. They make ministers. deputy ministers. There is obviously the core elite. the ministers. the people who
are close to the system and usually ideological. and then. oI course. peripheral elites and civil society and the
opposition to the regime. You have to understand that next to the Iormal structure there are inIormal groupings oI
various centers oI power that come together.
Let me conclude with a Iew observations that are very important. First. as I said. this system has a structure. a
constitutional structure. Irom elected to unelected. Iormal and inIormal. You can think in terms oI the horizontal and
vertical or unitary system. It is basically a data system: go through and look and see who is where.
Second. this system is changing signiIicantly. What we see is basically the continuity. UnIortunately what we have
not seen is the change that is taking place. For example. in Iran the soIt power oI the regime is increasingly in
decline versus the hard power. That is one reason why most people see Iran as a rising power.
Iran is not actually a rising power let me put it on the table Ior you. Look at Iran`s economy. look at Iran`s politics.
look at Iran`s democracy. Iran is not a rising power. What Iran shows to us is the awkwardness oI that rise. Besides.
every country in the region is rising. Every country in the region is putting more military machines in operation.
There are more economies the Arabs have built more military hardware than the Iranians have. Every country is
rising and Iran is rising in that sense. But Iran is not a rising power in the sense that it is now to dominate the region
and so on. I do completely disagree with it and I would like to sit with people who agree and ask them to show me
what is it that really makes it rising. Iran has the most diIIicult economy that any country in the region can have. It is
a very tough situation in the country.
Second. clergy is increasingly losing power to non-clergy Iorces. Still Khamenei is in power but believe me. within
ten years most Iirst-generation leaders oI the Islamic Republic are not going to be there. I would say Iive years
perhaps. The bad news Ior the regime is that this theocracy has not generated enough theocrats. There are very Iew
that can really Iollow the original leaders oI the revolution.
The next is that the civilian Iorces. whether turbaned or otherwise. are increasingly losing to the military Iorces and
security Iorces because oI the military securitization oI the environment.
It is increasingly important to understand that Iran`s power is being diIIused into the society. It is not like there is an
increasing power in the hands oI one but there is a decreasing oI that power centrally and increasing decentralization
and diIIusion oI the power across the Iranian political landscape.
Finally I would say that I see the Iuture oI the leadership more in terms oI not an individual but as a council oI
leaders. This is very important because this Iollows Irom the Iact that the Islamic Republic has Iailed to generate
theocrats that could really deal with that house.
Finally. US-Iran relations: I think we have two options to go here. One is to continue the path and increase the
military/security environment in a way that would serve the military/security Iorces. or to change gear and move in
the direction where the more open-minded people can operate in a peaceIul environment in Iran. Thank you.
1ohn Limbert: Good morning. ladies and gentlemen. I am very glad that all oI my colleagues here have spoken so
eloquently oI the connection between the intentions. and particularly the Ioreign policy intentions. and the internal
conditions in Iran. I would like to second Ken Pollack`s comment about the grain oI salt. I am going to talk some
more about internals but in speaking to this topic. beIore anything else I would certainly admit how much I do not
know about either intentions or the internal situation. Speaking personally. I have lost count oI the number oI times
that I have been wrong about Iran in the last 40 years. Sometimes in the political debates you hear about
consistency; in that way I can claim that I have been consistent. I stopped counting my misreadings oI Iran a long
time ago.
Also to echo another good statement Irom Ken Pollack. he used the words 'opaque¨ and 'murky.¨ When someone
asks me about understanding Iran. I am reminded oI something that maybe some oI you in this audience will
remember the old radio show 'The Shadow.¨ The hero oI that was Lamont Cranston. Lamont Cranston.
somewhere in the east. had attained the power to cloud men`s minds. I do not know where in the east that was but I
suspect it was somewhere in Iran. because Iran seems to have that power and still does. In particular that power
seems to increase as you get inside the Beltway. It seems to have that ability to cloud men`s minds.
That is a pretty pessimistic introduction. Surely we must know something about Iran and what it is going to do and
what is happening. In the interest oI Iull disclosure. I approach this topic as a medievalist. My heart is somewhere
back in the 14th century. So I would like to take a somewhat longer view oI what may be happening internally.
There is one thing we can say Ior certain on this subiect: the turmoil. Ierment and the changes that Iollowed in the
wake oI the Islamic revolution which I should note celebrates its 29th birthday this week are still not over. They
continue. I was glad to hear Hooshang speak oI goals Ior the revolution. II I had to summarize it in one I would say
that the revolution was about Iranians at long last becoming masters in their own house. But 29 years later. two basic
questions remain unanswered surrounding this goal. First. which Iranians should be masters in this house? Second.
in what kind oI house should they be masters? Today we still see raucous debate. sometimes violent struggle over
the answers to both these questions. So let me discuss them both.
First. who should be masters? The members oI Iran`s current elite and it is that same aging inner circle oI about
twenty-Iive men these people have run Iran on their own Ior the last twenty-nine years. since the earliest days.
February 1979. Today they do not rest easy. OI course they are beset by old age no one can do much about that;
even they cannot do anything about that. But they are also beset by opponents on two sides. On one side there is a
new generation coming up that wants their iobs. These people generally are veterans oI the Iran-Iraq War and
veterans oI the Iierce political battles oI the 1980s. Many oI them were students at the time oI the revolution and
they are now claiming their share oI power and privilege. They are demanding that the old guard. which they say has
grown corrupt and tired Irom being in power too long. should step aside Ior the next generation. which is sick oI
waiting and which is still imbued with the original popular spirit that brought victory in the revolution. On the other
side the old guard is beset by the demands oI the many. what the Iranians call gheyr-e-khodi the outsiders. those
who remain outside the Iew and their supporters who still occupy the inner circles oI power.
The insiders. the so-called khodi. would like to exclude the outsiders. the gheyr-e-khodi. Irom the political process
in the hope that this large group oI outsiders will remain quiet or satisIied with being stuck on the margins oI Iran`s
political and social liIe. Until now these outsiders have in Iact been kept busy iust trying to survive. struggling with
a system that excludes them or perhaps emigrating or otherwise being marginalized. This large group. and
particularly the huge numbers oI newly educated Iranian women and I will get back to this subiect in a minute
because I think this is causing huge change these people are not going to remain silent.
So let`s look at the second question: who should be masters in what kind oI Iranian house? So Iar attempts to impose
by Iorce an austere and narrow-minded ideology on a very creative and alert population has meant that kind oI
indirect resistance that Iranians have perIected. They are experts in dealing with misrule by bigots and thugs. They
are used to it and they know how to deal with it. But in an eIIort to build their particular style oI house. the
authorities oI the Islamic Republic have arrested. intimidated. murdered and otherwise attempted to silence writers.
translators. researchers and other gadIlies who insist on thinking Ior themselves and insist on asking inconvenient
questions.
The authorities` ham-handed eIIorts please excuse that metaphor will bring temporary silence and an outward
conIormity but beneath that surIace silence and conIormity Iran`s own traditions oI creativity and tolerance and a
love Ior the unorthodox whether it is religion. politics. art. anything else has proved and will prove too strong Ior
the eIIorts oI the extremist and the Ianatic to stamp it out. AIter all. everyone remembers the glorious verses oI the
poet HaIez but who remembers anything about the bigoted ruler oI HaIez`s Shiraz. the brutal Mubariz ad-Din
MuzaIIar? No one remembers him but we all remember HaIez.
The oIIicial architects and builders oI the Islamic Republic to continue my house metaphor simply cannot
eliminate in the name oI their personal design preIerences all the traditions that make Iranians who they are. Despite
their eIIorts at exclusion in the past Iew years here is what we have seen. I iust cite two examples. We have seen an
explosion oI women`s higher education. I think the Iigures now are 60-65 percent oI the university population in
Iran is Iemale. This explosion. ironically enough. was aided by or caused by the Islamic Republic`s imposing
compulsory veiling. It opened higher education to people Ior whom it was oII-limits beIore. Second. we have the
seen the creation oI a world-class Iranian Iilm industry. We see young directors people like Tahmineh Milani.
Mohammad Shirvani and others with very limited technical means and under restraints oI censorship. they have
created powerIul Iilms that have captivated world audience. Some oI us in this room may be old enough to
remember the trashy |Iilms| oI an earlier era and these new creations are an enormous source oI pleasure but also a
reaIIirmation oI an Iranian creative spirit that simply will not be extinguished.
So in conclusion. I look at Iran today and to me the 29-year-old revolution is like a train. It has gone into a tunnel
and it is still there. It has not come out yet. Maybe it has not come out because the engineers and the passengers are
still arguing about its ultimate destination. Thank you.
Question & Answer:
Ken Pollack: Thank you. John. Ior that wonderIul presentation. We have a whole bunch oI questions on a variety oI
topics.
A broad rubric. a number oI questions on this the way I would describe it is eIIectively. what events in the near
Iuture might we expect to cause an important shiIt in Iranian intentions? These can be internal events. external
events and in particular a number oI the questions we got Iocused on some upcoming internal events the upcoming
Mailis elections. the presidential elections but also the passing Irom the scene oI Ayatollah Khamenei at some
point in time. So that`s one set. it would be great iI we could talk a little bit about that.
Then there was a question speciIically put to me but I think it is Iair game Ior everyone else on the panel. II Iran`s
involvement in Iraq and in particular its more militant involvement in Iraq seems to be closely correlated with the
state oI aIIairs in Iraq it goes up when the chaos gets worse what should that say Ior the next administration in
making its decisions about Iraq?
Gary Sick: The second one is really your topic and I am not going to poach on that. With regards to things that will
come up. I am very much in the same camp as John Limbert in the sense that Iran has an almost inIinite capacity to
surprise and our predictive powers are not only Iallible but almost useless. I Iind us constantly scrambling to keep up
with what in Iact is going on that we did not predict.
One oI the things that I think could have a very signiIicant diIIerence as this old guard is getting ready to pass the
baton perhaps unwillingly. but is getting ready to pass it whether it likes it or not. I think John did not talk about
what that might look like when the baton actually gets passed.
First oI all. to whom? Ahmadineiad is one oI those people waiting to take over and he has a very diIIerent view
about how the Islamic Republic should be run. I agree with Hooshang that his strategy oI skipping over the top-
down approach and going out to the provinces and attempting to build a powerIul constituency there that he hopes
will play back and keep him in power against the will oI most oI the elite that he has oIIended along the way is an
interesting strategy. II it works. that will be a tremendous change in terms oI Iran`s politics. the way it is done.
The other maior event that I think could take place is starting right here. The United States has it in its power to
make a set oI oIIers to Iran. using both the leverage that we presently have but also the tremendous beneIits that we
have to oIIer. that could put this old leadership in a very diIIicult position. When we are nasty to them. they have no
problem being nasty back. They Ieel very comIortable with that and it is easy. When we oIIer something that the
population itselI could see that there is some real beneIits Irom cooperation. things that would make their lives much
easier. that puts the old guard in a much diIIerent position. And we have never tried that.
In nearly 30 years since the Iranian revolution we have yet to really put something meaningIul on the table to test the
leadership. to make them an oIIer that they cannot reIuse. II we should decide to do that and I am talking about the
next administration; I would love to see it with this administration but somehow I don`t see it happening in the next
year but in the next administration. iI we should in an intelligent and clever way make such a set oI oIIers to Iran. I
think we could change the whole political inIrastructure oI Iran in ways that are unIoreseeable at this point.
Hooshang Amirahmadi: Iran is a land oI surprises so anybody who is in the business oI predicting what happens
next is somebody who is going to go bankrupt. Don`t predict Iran because it is really a land oI surprises. We got a
surprise with Ahmadineiad`s election. with Khatami`s election. with the Islamic Republic itselI. Iran is a society
where a lot oI it is hidden and very little oI it is apparent. But in the country also. society works at two levels. At one
level. like Ior example drinking alcohol is prohibited and at another level everybody drinks. So in a way there are
two societies in Iran. one that is completely closed to us and the other is quite open to many. But I think the one that
is hidden is more important always than the one that is apparent. That is a part oI the surprise.
That said. one big thing that is happening is that aIter ten years I am going back to Iran. So that is maior. And guess
what? I am being sponsored Ior that trip by President Ahmadineiad. This is the Iirst time I am going public with this
news; I am very honored and pleased.
Ken Pollack: Do you have a roundtrip ticket?
Hooshang Amirahmadi: Yes. a Iriend oI mine said: this is not an invitation. it is a summons. I said: whatever it is. I
am taking it. So I think I am going to have a good time there. I am going back there to look into the country to see
what is actually happening as opposed to reading about it in The New York Times.
Second. as Gary and Ken and John said. that particular process is not complete. Iran is an unIinished revolution. I
think Iran is a revolutionary society still. Thinking the revolution is gone is a mistake. It is a revolutionary society
though it does generate the tension between the people I call the normalizers and the people I call the brinkmen the
people who really want to settle the situation. not iust normalizing US-Iran relations but normalizing a lot oI other
things that seem to be abnormal in the country. Relations between the people and the government. between men and
women. minorities and the government. the economic Iorces and so on. So it is a society that needs to create some
kind oI order or normalization within itselI. That struggle in the near Iuture is between the normalizers and the
brinkmen.
Over the last 20 years the struggle in Iran has been between we used to call them here the pro-democracy people
and those who are Ior dictatorship or the status quo. That discourse is gone. That is Iinished. It does not mean there
are no pro-democracy people. there are no democrats. I think that is not the next discourse. The political discourse
next in Iran is between the normalizers and the brinkmen the people who want to normalize not iust US-Iran
relations. Iran`s relationship with the international community. but broadly speaking within the country as well
versus those who want to go back to the revolution. who are military/security-oriented and so on. The US could be
very helpIul in this process or very harmIul.
Finally. it is critical to understand that the Iranian opposition to this regime is eIIectively Iinished. at least Ior the
next generation. There is not a Iorce out there that will really challenge the regime. The regime is quite stable. let`s
put it that way. It is going to be around Ior a while. I would guess that somehow it is not easy to predict that
Ahmadineiad is going to leave a year and a halI Irom now. Most likely he will be the next president as well. For at
least another Iour years he will be there. I think even iI someone else takes over it would not be a maior shiIt Irom
what Ahmadineiad is doing until and unless the relationship between the US and Iran changes.
There are two issues on the agenda in Iran today. One. normalization oI relations with the US. and second. Iree
elections. I think all Iranians. democrats. pro-democracy whoever they are. they have to Iocus on those two
matters. It is also the case with all oI us outside the country and non-Iranians outside the country. They have to Iocus
on two issues that really deIine Iran today or could deIine a better Iran tomorrow. One. normalization oI relations
with the US. and second. Iree elections. And I mean Iree elections not human rights. not democracy. Iree elections.
The Iirst step on the ladder. I always tell my Iriends: you are asking Ior human rights Irom the Islamic Republic. It is
like asking Hooshang Amirahmadi Ior a billion dollars I iust don`t have it! II you ask me Ior a billion dollars I
cannot give it to you because I do not have it. even iI I wanted to give it to you. Ask me Ior something that I have
ask me Ior Iive dollars. 20 dollars. a hundred dollars. two hundred dollars I could probably give you.
So we have to ask something oI the regime that it does have to give us. Thank you.
1ohn Limbert: Thinking about changes. I recall shortly aIter the revolution it was decreed that neckties were out. II
you noticed. people in the Islamic Republic simply stopped wearing neckties with the exception oI medical
doctors. You noticed that a lot oI medical doctors still wore neckties. I asked someone why this is so and he said:
because even mullahs get sick. Well. even this group gets old. As much as they have cemented their hold on power
through these various structures that Hooshang has spoken about. they do get old and they will die. But in my
memory. in my reading oI Iranian history. I have rarely ever seen an Iranian political leader voluntarily leave power.
It iust does not happen. They stay on and on. They may get kicked out but they do not retire voluntarily. They take
the Strom Thurmond approach to power.
I agree. this generational shiIt is extremely important. the passing oI this old elite. But they are not going to pass the
baton. It may Iall Irom their hands on their deathbed but most oI them are not going to pass it voluntarily. What I
would look at is maybe not so much the Ahmadineiad generation. the so-called children oI the revolution look at
the grandchildren oI the revolution. the people now in their thirties and Iorties who do not remember the Shah`s
time. See what direction they are going and how they manage to assert themselves.
Finally. one oI the phrases that has been going around in Washington Ior a long time is the argument about regime
change. Should we be promoting regime change in Iran? Maybe things between our two countries require a regime
change. but they require two regime changes: one here and one there.
Ken Pollack: I will close with iust a brieI answer to the question about Iran in Iraq. thinking about the Iuture. I
would say. as the question is suggesting and I was suggesting in my remarks. that one oI the many tragic ironies oI
our involvement in Iraq has been that as the situation in Iraq gets worse it has also worsened our relationship with
the Iranians. To a certain extent though I go back to something Hooshang said I put it a little bit diIIerently though
which is that there is this impression oI Iran rising but as he pointed out it is not so much that Iran is rising so
much as it is that we are stumbling. It is because we have stumbled so many times in the Middle East that we have
created this impression oI Iran rising.
The Iranians are not ten Ieet tall. They are not diabolical geniuses who have Iigured out how to run the table on us.
We have put our Ieet repeatedly into bear traps in the Middle East. Every time that we have done that. every time we
have created chaos in Iraq. Lebanon aIter the Cedar Revolution. in the Palestinian territories. elsewhere in the
region the Iranians have simply Iallen in and picked up a bunch oI gains because oI the situation that we created.
By opening up this space it was not hard Ior the Iranians to move in. That. I think. is mostly why you have this
impression oI Iran on the rise in the region.
Some oI you may be aware George Packer wrote about it in The New Yorker that in the late Iall oI 2005 at
Brookings we ran a crisis simulation. It was the situation in Iraq continuing to worsen exactly the way that it did in
2006. We brought together as a mock NSC a group oI very senior Iormer policymakers. entirely nonpartisan. We
Iound people who were very willing to set their partisanship at the door but these were some real graybeards Irom
previous administrations. Given the situation that we presented them with. their option was to in Iact start to
withdraw Irom Iraq. What we Iound. the most interesting development oI that entire simulation. was that the more
that we pulled out. the more it brought the United States into conIlict with Iran. By the end oI the game. 18 months
in game time aIter it started. the United States was on the brink oI war with Iran. That is something we need to think
about and something that the next administration is going to need to consider.
It may be very diIIicult to maintain our commitments to Iraq in that next administration but iI we do decide to leave
we are going to have to think long and hard about what that does in terms oI Iran`s status in Iraq. Iran`s status in the
region. and what it is that we are trying to accomplish with the Iranians. It is going to exacerbate these tensions with
the Iranians.
With that unIortunately slightly gloomy note. let me bring this panel to a close. BeIore everyone stampedes the
podium to get their two hundred dollars Irom Hooshang Amirahmadi. could everyone ioin me in thanking our
wonderIul panel.
Speaker Details:
Ken Pollack is Director oI Research at the Saban Center Ior Middle East Policy.
Gary Sick is currently Senior Research Scholar at SIPA`s Middle East Institute at Columbia University.
Hooshang Amirahmadi is Iounder and president oI the American-Iranian Council. He is also a proIessor at Rutgers
University`s Bloustein School oI Planning and Public Policy.
1ohn Limbert teaches at the US Naval Academy. The veteran US diplomat was among the US hostages held in
Tehran Iollowing the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Introduction:
Barbara Slavin: We have begun today`s events by trying to Iigure out what Tehran wants. what Tehran is doing
internally. Now we are going to go to a very important subiect Ior Iran. Ior the region. Ior the United States. Ior the
world as a whole: Iran`s relations with its neighbors across the Persian GulI. as Iran calls it; the GulI. as others
would have it. The GulI indeed can be very wide between Iran and its Arab neighbors.
I am reminded that iust about a year ago I was in Kuwait with Secretary oI State Condoleezza Rice. with the State
Department press corps and the rest oI the entourage. We were on a trip to the Middle East that had as one oI its
principal missions an eIIort to contain Iran. isolate Iran. Condoleezza Rice was in Kuwait meeting with a group oI
other Ioreign ministers Irom an organization that she had dubbed the GCC ¹ 2: the Arab nations oI the GulI plus
Jordan and Egypt. She was working on a ioint statement with these countries. The statement eventually emerged; it
was pretty anodyne stuII. boilerplate about the need to resolve the Arab-Israeli conIlict and to bring stability to Iraq.
Yet it was important to the Bush administration as part oI this strategy oI bringing together the so-called moderates
against the so-called extremists aIter the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah summer war. The goal was. and to some extent still
remains. to isolate Iran and its allies particularly Syria. Hezbollah and Hamas.
President Bush on his recent trip to the Middle East also pushed this agenda. But I think whatever limited
enthusiasm there was Ior it even a year ago has dissipated a bit. GulI Arab states may be happy to buy another $20
million worth oI advanced US weaponry. assuming Congress approves. but they are not buying into the anti-Iran
agenda to a great extent. at least not in public. Instead the trend that we have seen is one oI hedging bets on Iran as
its clients grow more inIluential in the region. Ken Pollack may be right; it may be not so much Iran rising as the
United States stumbling. But this is certainly the perception in the region. especially as a lame-duck American
administration continues to Iade Irom view. Lack oI progress on the Arab-Israeli Iront since Annapolis has also
Iurther diminished enthusiasm among US Arab allies Ior an anti-Iran coalition that might include more overt ties
between these Arab governments and Israel. In addition we have the recent US National Intelligence Estimate that
said Iran has halted a covert military nuclear program. This has added to a sense among Arabs that the Bush
administration is not going to attack Iran and is going to have diIIiculty mobilizing the rest oI the world against
Iran`s overt uranium enrichment program.
This hedging strategy against Iran has been very obvious in recent weeks. I am sure our speakers here are going to
talk about it at length. In December Mahmoudi Ahmadineiad was invited to and attended a GCC summit in Qatar. It
was the Iirst time an Iranian president had been invited. Saudi Arabia also invited him to perIorm the haii not long
beIore President Bush visited the Kingdom. Kuwait`s Ioreign minister Ilew to Tehran iust a Iew days aIter Bush leIt
and the speaker oI Iran`s parliament. Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel. has iust been in Kuwait. a country that owes its very
existence to US intervention in 1991. Even Egypt. the largest recipient oI US aid in the Arab world. has been
discussing restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. Ayatollah Khamenei`s representative on the Iranian National
Security Council. Ali Lariiani. has recently visited Cairo. So has Haddad-Adel. This past week Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak met with Haddad-Adel and it was the highest-level contact between the two countries since the Shah
died and was buried in Egypt in 1980. So it is a remarkable change.
Meanwhile we have developments elsewhere in the region. Hamas has iust scored a big public relations victory by
literally bursting out oI its captivity in Gaza. Hezbollah continues to block the selection oI a president Ior Lebanon.
three or Iour months aIter a deadline has passed. I have to admit that Condoleezza Rice and other US oIIicials do not
seem to be talking so much about the GCC ¹ 2. This appears to be another grouping that has Iaded away as the
strategy behind it also seems to Iade.
To discuss these developments involving Iran and the GulI we have three distinguished speakers Irom the region.
Our Iirst speaker will be Dr. Wahid Hashim. He is an associate proIessor oI political science at King Abdul Aziz
University in Jeddah. Dr. Hashim has also been a political consultant Ior the Okaz Organization Ior Press and
Publication. He supervised Okaz newspaper`s international department Irom 1998 to 2005 and he has written Ior
numerous Arabic publications. He has degrees Irom Arizona University. Colorado University and King Abdul Aziz
University.
Our second speaker will be Ibtisam Al Kitbi. assistant proIessor oI political science at the United Arab Emirates
University. She serves on the board oI the UAE Society Ior Human Rights. the Arabic Organization Ior
Transparency and is a member oI the editorial board oI the UAE`s Journal oI Social AIIairs. She has also served on
the consultative committee Ior the UAE Center Ior Strategic Studies and the UAE Federal National Council. Dr. Al
Kitbi also has a doctorate in political science Irom Cairo University.
Our Iinal speaker will be Dr. Sami Al-Farai. who is president oI the Kuwait Center Ior Strategic Studies and an
advisor to the Kuwait government on preparing Ior potential nuclear accidents in Iran a very important topic. He is
also an advisor to the GCC. He has degrees Irom OxIord and Cambridge as well as Irom the Fletcher School oI Law
and Diplomacy at TuIts University.
Wahid Hashim: Good morning. ladies and gentlemen. I would like to thank the Middle East Institute Ior inviting
me and giving me this opportunity to discuss some issues and thoughts with you regarding the Iranian-Saudi
relationship in particular and the Iranian-Arab relationship in general. I tend to look at the Iranian-Saudi relationship
in terms oI a more holistic view that represents myselI as an academic. a political scientist and a person who is really
interested in Middle Eastern politics and the way it is headed where and to what extent it will aIIect the national
security and stability oI the region.
Iran. iI we look at it Irom a historical. geographical. cultural and ideological perspective. is more than the Iran oI
today. It is the Iran oI ancient times. when Iran was conquered by the Arab Islamic army and thereIore Iran became
part oI the Islamic Empire. However. things changed during the Iirst Iour caliphs Abu Bakr. Umar. Uthman and
the big struggle between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mu`awiya ibn Abu SuIyan. It was a political struggle over who
would be the next khaliIa/imam. The question was whether the imam and the khaliIa |should be| in one person or in
the house oI the descendants oI the Prophet Muhammad. That was the view oI the Shi`ites oI that time. and they
were not the Shi`ites oI today. The word Shi`ite relates to those who supported Ali. the supporters oI Ali ibn Abi
Talib. the Prophet Muhammad`s nephew who was married to his daughter. Fatima. So that was the case the Shi`ite
supporters oI Ali and those who claimed that Ali should be the third caliph; they were arguing he should be the Iirst
one anyway. iI we look at it more deeply.
Things changed dramatically aIter the battle between Ali ibn Abi Talib`s army and the army oI Mu`awiya ibn Abu
SuIyan. the ruler oI Syria (the Battle oI SiIIin). That battle brought a new group into the scene. the Khawarii ('the
externals¨) who were antagonistic to both Ali ibn Abi Talib and Mu`awiya. But aIter SiIIin we have the
development oI the Shi`ite ideology as an ideology that has diIIerent behavior. diIIerent thinking Irom that oI those
who supported Umar ibn Khattab at the beginning. Then they are Iollowed by many scholars and here developed the
Sunni sect.
So what is taking place in the region is a continuity oI the struggle between the Shi`ite and the Sunni. number one.
Number two. the Shah oI Iran was not highly politicized in terms oI its role regarding leading the Muslim world and
then attempting to Iind roots within the Arab communities and reach out to the Arab Shi`ites. because many oI the
Arabs believed that there should be a distinction between Shi`ite Persian and Shi`ite Arab. That distinction was very
strong during the war between Iran and Iraq. when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. The Iranians tried to play the card
oI Shi`ite Arabs to support them but it did not work.
Things changed aIter the war between Iran and Iraq. I can go back a little Iurther and say that Iran in 1979 became
revolutionary Iran. It adopted a new ideology oI exporting its revolution to the Arab world and to the Muslim world.
That remains me oI the Nasser era when he attempted also to export Arab nationalism to the Arab countries and
called the monarchies the 'backward monarchies¨ that needed to be removed and replaced by republic regimes or
political systems.
Iran. when it began its policy oI exporting its revolution. it had in mind to export also the Shi`ite ideology. ThereIore
Saudi Arabia. who Iirst began to have contestation and struggle with Nasser when he wanted to spread the idea oI
Arab nationalism. that ended and now in 1979 Saudi Arabia had to Iace the Islamic revolution oI Iran and attempts
to use Shi`ite ideology in order to win support within the Shi`ite communities oI the Arab world. UnIortunately. in
the 1960s. 1970s and 1980s. most oI the Arab world in general and the GulI states in particular were not highly
supportive oI their Shi`ite communities. The Shi`ite communities were ignorant and were not represented in the
political systems and thereIore the Arab Shi`ite had to look Ior leadership. I think Iran and the Iranian clergy and the
Iranian revolution provided such leadership Ior the Arab Shi`ites. We have seen now Hezbollah in Lebanon. I
remember back in 1979-80. you could enter any Shi`ite house anywhere in the GulI and you would see the pictures
oI Khomeini and the other Iranian clergy. So Iran managed to establish support within the Arab Shi`ites. It is not
anymore Arab nationalism against Persian nationalism. Now you are talking about Shi`ite versus Sunni.
I think partly the scholars. which is my second level oI analysis. contributed to this division. At the same time they
Iueled the division between Sunnis and Shi`a on both sides either the side oI the Sunnis. the extremists who
considered the Shi`ites as kuIr. and the other way around also. the Shi`ite have something called taqiyyah |?|. My
colleagues talked about Iranian intentions. I do not know whether they have taken place the idea oI taqiyyah |?|.
which is to show an intention but yet you have a diIIerent intention. You have a hidden agenda. a hidden intention
that you do not show. That taqiyyah |?| is a maior characteristic oI the Shi`ite ideology.
What I see in the Middle East is a revival oI the Persian Empire but it relies heavily on the ideology oI Shi`ism. Iran
not only Iound itselI in one day surrounded by Sunni states Taliban. Pakistan. Iraq during Saddam Hussein. the
GulI States. Turkey and even Syria a Sunni state even though those who rule Syria are Ba`athist but yet Alawite.
Alawite are Nusayriyya. the most extreme oI the Shi`ites. Iran. in order to maintain and saIeguard its national
interest as well as its national security. had to play a role in the region. It had also to build its strength in order to
Iace the so-called Sunni Islamic bomb. In my view. Iran`s main intention is to develop its own Shi`ite bomb in order
to balance the power in the region; to deter any Pakistani in the Iuture to interIere on behalI oI the GulI iI any
hostility breaks out between the Iranians and the GulI states. particularly iI we talk about the three United Arab
Emirates islands occupied by Iran that still cause a problem.
The main actors in this theater are the clergy. the sheikhs. the ulama. the Islamic scholars on both sides. In this
respect we have to understand that whatever positive political development between the GulI states in general. Saudi
Arabia and Iran in particular. it is in my view to continue coexistence. But hostility. antagonism. distrust. suspicion
are maior characteristics oI relations between the GulI and Iran.
At the populist level. iI you look at it Irom this respect. I do not see any diIIerences. There are no antagonisms or
hatred between the people who live in Saudi Arabia. particularly the people who live in Mecca. and the Iranians.
whether they are extremist Shi`ite. moderate Shi`ite or even iI they are non-believers. II we look at the trade
perspective. the business community. two things are taking place now. One is al-haii and al-umrah business between
Saudi Arabia and Iran. Many Iranian pilgrimages come to Saudi Arabia and that is really beneIiting both sides. That
is welcomed by the Saudi people. However I do not see that much bilateral investment between the two countries in
the coming Iuture unless the leadership. which makes a big diIIerence leadership in the Arab world and the
Muslim world makes a big diIIerence. II leaders understand one another and become beIriended with one another.
then everything will be okay with the people. the clergy and the populace. So iI leaders manage to rectiIy their
diIIerences and build new bridges and start a new era oI relations. which is a Iact oI Arab politics and Iranian
politics. a new era oI alliance will take place between the two countries even with the existence oI distrust and
antagonism.
I see also the distrust oI American Ioreign policy in the region. American credibility is undermined. The Iear Irom
the GulI states and Saudi Arabia that America might strike a deal with the Iranians they are not going to Iorget the
Shah era when his country was the police oI the area on their account. ThereIore they are living next to Iran. They
have cultural ties. the geographical Iact to live with one another. Why not then have a new era oI bilateral relations
with Iran? Settle the diIIerences and Iind a way to deal with one another on the political level. iust as there is a
Iluidity and strong relationship between the people oI Saudi Arabia and the GulI and the Iranians. I can see that in
Mecca Ior example. when all the Shi`ites come to Mecca Ior haii. Nobody obiects to their religious practices; on the
contrary. we assist them. We provide them with the houses and Iood they require.
The other part oI my analysis is there is a new development in terms oI personality. That development took place
aIter the Israeli-Hezbollah war. I have noticed and conducted some research on how students view the Shi`ites.
Iran`s only legitimacy now in the region is that it is the country that is standing up to Israel and the United States.
There is a Iever in the area. anti-America. anti-Israel. and Iran is the only knight who will stand up to America. That
is why many people support the Iranians. I was very surprised to see Sunnis naming themselves aIter Hassan
Nasrallah. They named their sons aIter Hassan Nasrallah. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. people are
supporting Hezbollah. are supporting Iran against America and Israel. because oI the Iranian position against the
Israelis.
I think my time is up; I have lots oI things to say. however I cannot. I would like to thank you very much Ior
listening and I hope to get some oI your questions and I would be glad to answer.
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi: Let me thank the Middle East Institute and my Iriend David Mack Ior their kind invitation. I
think this is an important conIerence. Bear with me my Iriends in Washington. Ior what I am going to say might
upset you. I am going to talk about the GCC and the UAE`s stance toward Iran and also the United States.
The Iirst part oI my presentation will be Iocused on the Iactors inIluencing the GCC`s stance towards Iran. The GCC
states realize that ultimately the United States has the option oI cutting its losses in Iraq and going home whereas
they will have to live with the empowered Shi`a and emergent Iran. The end result oI this has led the GCC to Ieel
that it is better to engage Iran than to leave it to its devices.
The GCC countries recently announced their readiness to start negotiations on trade agreements despite US-led
eIIorts to Iurther isolate the Iranian economy. While such talks are no doubt in the very initial stages. it is
nevertheless a signal that the GCC will Iollow their own economic interests. They see increased economic
engagement as a vessel to lessen overall political tensions. Simply put. the GCC states do not want their current
economic boom ieopardized by US policies that might result in a US-Iranian conIrontation that could engulI the
entire region.
At Iirst glance a Iree trade agreement seems an odd Iormat. Neither the GCC states nor Iran can oIIer each other
much economically. All are energy exporters and importers oI manuIactured goods. There are Iew opportunities Ior
synergies. For Saudi Arabia. Kuwait and Bahrain. the GCC states that have large Shi`ite populations and so are
terriIied oI Iran`s rise. the deal could serve as a sort oI political tribute. a kind oI pledge oI cooperation with the
region`s superpower. Such a deal might be hard to swallow Ior these states but open deIiance could invite Iran to
make more direct eIIorts to inIluence its neighbors.
Elsewhere in the GCC. Qatar and the UAE and Oman are more likely to view the FTA oIIer with legitimate interest.
None oI these states has appreciable Shi`ite interests and so all Ieel less threatened by Iran than the states that do.
Qatar has always acted independently oI its neighbors and having US Central Command stationed on its territory
gives it the conIidence to implement a trade accord. even a politically motivated one. with Iew second thoughts. The
United Arab Emirates actually has an economic rationale to sign on. It serves as the re-export window that allows
Iran to access the international economy so a trade deal would have positive economic impact. Finally. oI all the
GCC states. Oman traditionally supports the Iriendliest relations with Iran and should a regional military conIlict
break out. geography dictates that Oman would be the last state to be aIIected. A political sop Ior Oman costs
nothing and gains much goodwill.
II I move to the Iactors inIluencing Iran`s stance toward the GCC states. I think Irom the Iranian point oI view.
though a maior achievement getting invited to a GCC summit. it is Iar Irom the sum oI Iran`s desires. ThereIore Iran
wants to capitalize on the opportunity and get its Ioot in the door. Irom where it can then move Iorward. This also
provides Iran with a way to counter any US moves to align itselI with the Arab states in an aggressive action against
the Islamic Republic. Iran has Iloated the possibility oI a Iree trade agreement with its GulI neighbors. Iran is
positioning itselI to take advantage oI an expected reduction oI US inIluence in the region and a trade initiative
could prove to be a deIt tool.
But Iran is not approaching this as an economic partnership as much as a token oI homage. Iran wants the GCC to
recognize it as the region`s predominant power and agreeing to a trade treaty is a convenient way to recognize a
country`s importance without groveling.
At the end oI the day. Iran is not planning Ior this FTA idea to divide the GCC states. II it comes to that Iran will use
the Shi`ite wedge. But instead to provide an Iran-GCC Iramework that explicitly excludes the United States. Iran is
trying to reorient its region away Irom Washington. This is simply a step along that path.
The GCC stance toward the United States. The underlying dilemma within the existing complexity oI regional and
international politics is that the United States has so Iar Iailed to come to terms with the GCC states deIining their
own interests outside oI the context oI the need Ior US military protection. In the past GulI states may have
willingly. albeit grudgingly. gone along with much oI the US policy given the direct and more serious challenges
posed by threats such as the Iranian revolution and the regime oI Saddam Hussein. However in the wake oI the Iraq
policy disaster. US policies are seen more as being a part oI the problem oI regional instability than as part oI the
solution. The Iormula oI past US-GCC relationships oI security and protection Ior stable oil supplies. although still
relevant. is no longer predominant and all-deIining. Instead the GCC states have begun to deIine their own national
priorities and interests. This is something that the US needs to pay attention to.
While the GCC states would be ready to increase the pressure on Iran should Tehran maintain its obstructionist
stance on the nuclear issue. the prevailing notion in the region is that there is still time to Iind a solution. What the
GCC states Iear most is preemptive action by the US against Iran. with the region leIt to handle the consequences.
II I move to the UAE stance. what are the Iactors inIluencing the UAE`s stance towards Iran? The UAE should take
the Iollowing eight Iactors into Iull consideration beIore adopting any stance or taking any decision towards Iran.
This is my perspective. I am representing myselI as Ibtisam Al-Kitbi. not my country. not my government. not even
my university.
The geographical location. Iran is geographically close to the UAE and thus this proximity to Iran aIIects its political
attitudes and decisions. The geographical location was one oI the most important Iactors that motivated Iran to
occupy the three UAE islands.
Second. Iran`s size and demographic capabilities. Iran enioys vast lands and large number oI population which
promotes its huge potential and reduces the capabilities oI other states to exhaust its powers. This Iactor reIlects
Iran`s ability to remain steadIast Ior a long period and to Iace diIIerent kinds oI threats.
Third. Iran`s military power. human and geographical advantage provides Iran with military might and strengthens
its sizable. multi-purpose military power. which makes it diIIicult Ior the small states oI the GulI to conIront Iran
despite the Ioreign protection and national military capabilities.
Fourth. human relations with Iran. The UAE has the largest Iranian community that lives legally in the state.
According to data released by the Iran Dubai consulate. 400.000 Iranians are part oI the UAE`s total population.
This community does not necessarily support the Iranian regime`s policies yet its national Persian sense oI
belonging should not be underestimated. This is a source oI maior and permanent political and stability concern Ior
the UAE.
Economic relations with Iran. Economic ties with Iran should be taken into consideration. especially Ior Dubai. the
Iederation`s second-largest emirate. Dubai is the main magnet Ior Iranian investment. About 8.050 Iranian
companies are registered with the Dubai Chamber oI Commerce and Industry while Iigures released by the Iranian
Business Council oI Dubai indicates that about 10.000 Iranian Iirms are currently operating in the Emirates. With
business covering banking. real estate and petroleum. the executive vice president oI the board oI directors oI the
Iranian Business Council oI Dubai has estimated the worth oI Iranian assets in the UAE at about $66 billion. The
2006 volume oI trade was estimated at around $11 billion. The resulting business Irom companies owned by Iranian
investors in the UAE and the re-export trade is estimated at $7 billion annually. and plays an important role in this
regard. II Iran wants to attract the GulI states to minimize the potential impact oI a conIrontation with the West. here
the UAE may be oI primary importance Ior Iran`s strategy. The country is Iran`s biggest trading partner in the
region and Iran certainly wishes to keep this channel oI trade open. especially iI the threats oI more sanctions on Iran
are implemented.
Also. the religious inIluence. Iran is viewed as a patron and guide Ior the Shi`ite community. Arab and Iranian. The
Iranian religious establishment enioys extensive inIluence. direct or indirect. on the Shi`ite community worldwide.
including that oI the UAE and the GulI states.
UAE and Arab public opinion. The Iranian policies managed to mobilize Arab public opinion behind its stance and
policies opposing Israel and the United States. It won their sympathy. iI not support. with the Iranian stance among
the Arab population. ThereIore any decision needs to consider this dimension.
The UAE political structure also. The Iederal structure oI the UAE limits the Ireedom oI the central government and
stresses the necessity oI taking the interests oI the other emirates into consideration beIore adopting any strategic
decision.
So the combination oI Iran`s capabilities. military and otherwise. and its intentions. the regime`s rhetoric and
practice. does not inspire conIidence. It seems the UAE is weighing its options to enhance its ties with Western
powers while building bridges with Tehran through high-level diplomatic visits Iran`s president visited the UAE
last year; improved economic and commercial ties to create homogeneous interests that Iran would have a great
stake in not destabilizing the UAE; and lastly to create political assets valuable Ior Iran. such as Egypt`s increased
diplomatic dialogue with Tehran. and encourage Iran not to ieopardize Arab goodwill toward Iran.
Here I have to talk about what is also the UAE`s stance toward the United States. The US is the main Iorce which
directly or indirectly guarantees the security and deIends the UAE. This is a maior Iactor that is taken into
consideration in all UAE decisions and those related to Iran in particular.
The UAE stance towards the current US administration could be summarized as Iollows. First. since its invasion and
Iailure in Iraq the US administration has lost its credibility and sense oI wisdom. The UAE decision cannot be seen
as being supportive oI US policies or demands. This US administration is counting its Iinal days. It will leave oIIice
within eleven months. Its policies cannot be impressed and its demands cannot be met. especially aIter the
administration can no longer take any vitally important decisions.
The UAE cannot now raise the issue oI the three occupied islands because any new move in this direction might be
understood as part oI a US campaign against Iran. The UAE stance should not go beyond reiterating the previous
one. which calls Ior a legal or diplomatic settlement and adhering to national rights. The UAE should make it clear
that it Iinds national and Arab interests in separating the issue oI islands Irom the issue oI the Iran nuclear Iight and
the crisis it has spawned. Thank you.
Sami Al-Faraj: I am in the Middle East Institute; I am aware that you are quite amenable to Middle Eastern culture
so I will put this quite dry presentation in a Middle Eastern setting. You always say. I have a presentation about the
tactical things. but I will talk about probably the issues raised by my colleagues in the previous panel and the way I
look at American politics.
You say you have a muddled policy. You said that. I did not say that. The Iact is that I come quite oIten to
Washington. DC. and every time I come I see you are more muddled. So it is Iun. I guess. The question Ior us is not
Iunny in the GCC because the passage oI time impacts on the way we want to conduct business.
The most important issue we have to take into consideration. and I will go into metaphors the previous metaphor
and the current metaphor. The previous metaphor. it looks to me Irom a Middle Eastern point oI view. is like
someone who wants to shoot his ex-girlIriend. Shoot her? Why? You are not with her anymore. But she still causes
trouble Ior me! She does this. she does that. The current metaphor is somebody tied to a Iew wives and he still
thinks nostalgically about a Iormer girlIriend. He tries to see things that he did not see in the past. like she has
centers oI power. she has a new way oI liIe. she is Iree to choose her way oI liIe. She is diIIerent; now she is
wearing the hiiab. she does not drink. she does not go out. He still wants her. This is like one oI my colleagues. Gary
Sick. reminded us it was 29 years ago. Now he is married with contractual engagements with others. called 6 ¹ 2.
plus Turkey. plus whoever is considered Sunni or a power that is competing with Iran.
In this metaphor. he does not take into consideration that his Iormer girlIriend is penniless. is quite capable oI taking
her into the Iold. but she also wants to be the primary central power among those established wives. She wants to go
into the household and change the minds oI the kids. The Arabs. they are there. and they are Shi`ites. They have
their political aIIiliations. They could be Hezbollah. they could be the Ba`ath Party. they could be anything. She still
wants not only to get into the Iold and the house but she wants to change the whole thing.
Iran. Ior us. wants to be the hegemon in the GulI on the cheap. Whether you talk about economic capabilities or
whatever. it does not restrain Iran Irom trying to be the hegemon in the GulI on the cheap. To do that on the cheap is
very easy. Look at how it hurt the only power on earth`s policies in Iraq. in Lebanon. in Palestine. How could the
Arabs talk about two Palestinian states. one Islamic. one secular? It has really created havoc. The Lebanese sit and
give interviews and they believe in whatever they believe. and they reach this stage where one party oI the special
delegate that is. Syria is lying through its teeth. It is part oI the Arab delegation to restore stability to Lebanon
but it is in alliance. This girlIriend actually goes with somebody else. She has no interest honestly unless this
gentleman recognizes her and that is the United States by the way. iI you Iorget this muddled gentleman seems
to pass by the household. In Kuwait there are over 85.000 oI his kids transiting back and Iorth to Iraq. to their death.
Who is killing them there?
So it is important to put Irom our perspective the right setting on how we look at it. You do not need to kill the old
girlIriend because it creates havoc Ior us in the area. Witnessing the organization oI the military campaign in Iraq.
we have to take care oI our household in the area. This household is in a neighborhood. The neighborhood is the
GCC. Egypt. Jordan. Turkey. Iraq and Yemen. and Iran. and the Iormer republics oI the Soviet Union and Pakistan
everybody. Then we have two great economic hegemons coming into the GulI the rising China and India. These
things presented. it is passion honestly. It is Ior us passion. I do not know what this is. aIter 29 years. what she sees
in him. but speaking about myselI sorry.
So what do we do there in the GulI? We have to sit and think that this guy does not need to kill her because this will
involve him he may get to prison and then who is going to be the head oI this Middle Eastern household? This big
power that really runs the world?
The other thing is that Iran cannot get into this security arrangement on the cheap and without showing any
cooperation in the declared obiectives oI the whole area: stability and prosperity and security Ior all. For all
including them. including the Israelis. the Palestinians. everybody; the Iraqis. Jordanians. Egyptians. Turks. So we
have a way oI saying all this time you have been talking behind our back it is not our back. but it looks like it is
behind our back and you are shiIting Irom one radical position to another without considering that we could
achieve the same obiective by involving two things. One. what do we know about women? What do we know about
the neighborhood? (II we consider these nations as wives that look at this man as their protector.) The other thing is
that we could get her to behave well by giving incentives while you carry on carrying the stick. The stick alone
cannot do that and the incentives cannot do this iob. so we have to do the things.
Now we are going to save you one thing and that is because you really showed no interest. neither in a scenario oI
war nor a scenario oI peace. to consider what we can contribute to this. Today we are capable oI selling oil Ior Iree
on the condition that all nations oI the world give us what we need in trade Ior Iree. The magnitude oI assets there is
unbelievable and we all want to do something Ior the neighborhood iI this Iormer girlIriend behaves. At the same
time you do not seem to consider when you consider peace or war. you do not consider the ramiIications. You do
not consider your statements. You do not consider your power. When you say NIE. it is part oI this setup it is the
American setup. But there people in the street ask me: so the United States is not going to hit Iran? This is how they
understood it in the Middle East. assuming the United States was bent on hitting Iran. When you have this and say
'we don`t know.¨ it is something iI this person is so careless about how he moves and gets his children killed in
some nasty place like Iraq or somewhere else. or in the GulI today you are stopped on the Strait oI Hormuz. So
iust imagine the erosion oI your inIluence in the area.
I would like to tell you the Iollowing. In the GCC and all the others. we are Western-oriented period. 100 percent.
Any tilt in our position toward Iran or toward whoever. the way my colleague here said 'hedging our bets.¨ is to do
something that the man oI the house is not really considering all the issues when he decides on things.
The other thing is. whatever Iran is going to gain by sitting with the United States and settling the problems oI Iraq
and Lebanon and Syria and the Palestinian questions is going to erode your inIluence and give it to Iran. So we have
the option oI whether we live with a militarist Iran and Iace up to this scenario oI meeting Iran in battle with the
United States. iI something like that happens. We are assuming that this is going to happen someday. because this
gentleman might iust change his mind so we do not know. So we have to ready ourselves. Or the other option Ior us
is to live with this newcomer to the household as the paramount power in this household. which is meant Ior good.
So it is like a cancerous tumor. whether you get rid oI it or you live with it. This is the situation.
We think oI it as a cancerous tumor and thereIore we are looking at things diIIerently than you. For instance. the
way we look at Iran. this Iormer girlIriend is going to trouble us it is in Arabic. it is intentionally done Ior you so
you do not know what we are doing but iI we look at what Iran can do. it is based on our experience and
speciIically what the Kuwaitis contribute in the planning Ior the GCC. what Iran has done to us and to Saudi Arabia
during the Iran-Iraq war. prior to the revolution and at the outset oI the revolution. aIter the revolution. They did
many things. Iran is not looked upon in the Arab media as a military occupant. although it occupies islands. Iran is
looked upon in the Arab media as the greatest danger to Israel and there is no legal state oI war between Iran and
Israel. It never happened. a legal state oI war between the Jewish kingdom and the Persian Empire never. We are
considered by Israel to be in a legal state oI war. like small Kuwait. small Qatar. small UAE. because we still have
not signed an agreement.
But what could Iran do Ior us? It could do the Iollowing. I am talking about the level oI how people look at what
Iran is going to do. The missing point in the negotiation process today is that it is going to leave us with a peaceIul
Iran with nuclear capabilities on the GulI. which means it is going to impact on our lives. It is not 100 people dying
because oI contamination in Washington. DC. This is a national disaster in the city oI Doha or Manama in Bahrain.
So we have to think seriously about this man oI the house. We are not going to change him oI course. we like him.
So Iran could use terrorism in order to be the paramount power on the cheap. It could use war. It could use coercive
means. It could use antagonizing oI Shi`ite citizens oI the GCC. It could use mishaps in Iraq in order to create havoc
and a reIugee problem Ior us.
For us. how we look at Bushehr. this is how we look at Bushehr. The Iirst one is a map oI the GulI and look at the
impact oI a computer model. and look at how it covers the whole oI Kuwait. Kuwait is the IoreIront oI the GCC and
iI anything happens. Kuwait will go straight to Saudi Arabia and the others. one aIter another. This is something I
showed here in Washington it is the impact oI earthquakes. The dots show the instability. It is not the girlIriend
who is unstable. her home is unstable itselI. It may Iall on all oI us.
The other thing is the current. Look. she lives on a really nice beach where it is deep. Whatever happens. it is not
surIace. Here on our side. the garbage will surIace. on the other side oI the GulI. The current also will carry that
girlIriend`s garbage to us. So we need to tell her that she has to behave. we have to collect garbage together. Here is
the current again. It shows you that whatever happens there. any mishap done by this girlIriend is going to come to
the real household oI all oI us. including the United States oI America. We live as a household on these Iisheries.
This is the impact on the GulI seabed and this is the channels. Look how wide the Strait oI Hormuz but they still use
loudspeakers to say: who are you? Who are you to enter an international strait. which is your legal right? Again.
these are the GulI Iisheries and you see that this is our livelihood. OI course we can share with you; we are little. you
can come and sell and buy. That is what is happening with Iranian traders. Iranian Iishermen. We believe in human
endeavor. common human endeavor with this girlIriend.
Here oI course we could not rely on the help oI the United States so we seek help everywhere. That includes the
IAEA. We put all these arrangements with them. as iI we knew about this behavior oI this Iormer girlIriend.
Because she bought a station in Iran. which is one oI the international networks to monitor things like that. we
decided to put one because we do not trust her. So look. it is only Kuwait and Iran in there. Kuwait works in alliance
with the GCC.
This is the state oI streets in the GCC. We hear talk about strategic issues and there they are looking Ior traces oI
radiation because we do not know about this girlIriend. She does not tell us anything. We do not know the size oI
her household. that is Bushehr. its protection. what emanates Irom it. and opposite to it to the greatest concentrations
oI the Arab GulI and the cities oI Saudi Arabia. the city oI Kuwait. the cities oI the Emirates. So this is really a lousy
situation. We need the minimum cooperation with Iran on at least the nuclear side. This is not presented by the 5 ¹ 1
negotiation on behalI oI the Western world. on behalI oI the United States. ThereIore we go into our own devices.
Here are our own devices. Nice. bought Irom the West you see it in every street. This is not Ior pigeons. as it may
look. it is Ior radiation. So we take things seriously. This is what we have decided. Whoever gets a missile Irom that
Iormer girlIriend tells the others and we work in a circle as the GCC to protect our existence. survival in the material
sense not survival in the Iinancial sense or as oil producers. but as existing humans. Nothing to do with us being
Arabs or Shi`ite or them being Iranian or Persian. We have no conIusion about these issues. They are humans. we
are humans.
Google allowed us to look at ourselves Irom above. Is that a mistake? Here we look at a place where this map I
have chosen Ior you because it was a center oI an exercise. The northern side oI the map is the greatest industrial.
and these ports are used by the United States and the world. These are either Ior oil or Ior troops. United States
power proiection capabilities into Iraq. So the success in Iraq. I would like to remind my Iormer speakers. is not due
to Iran cooperating. It is due to the eIIorts oI 6 ¹ 2 ¹ others. the eIIort in Iraq itselI. It is the other way around.
On the leIt oI this is the biggest concentration oI American troops in the Arab world. So the protection oI your
children is there. is at stake. Any contamination oI this area is then. because we are exercising our treaty obligation
to deIend whoever is there. including United States Iorces it is not the other way around. by the way.
II you look at exercises like that. you will have sirens and with the sirens you have a contamination and you have to
stop ships Irom getting into the yellow and red zone. Then you will have all our capabilities. which are limited by
the way. to treat something that is unbelievable Ior us. Even our medical services will have to stop there.
Second thing is basically the same scenario and then expansion to the level that we need Saudi Iorces to come in.
You see them in the bottom leIt side oI this diagram. We had an exercise because today there is no way that Saudi
Arabia or Kuwait or the Emirates can really exercise its protection without real cooperation. Also it is not real unless
Iran really cooperates and tells us about would-be scenarios oI accidents. tells us about the thickness oI the Bushehr
reactor. what they have. what they do. It is neither Iran nor Russia telling us about that. Especially when a Russian
comes to me and says: don`t worry. it`s all good aIter Chernobyl it is really trustworthy.
When we talk about capabilities. we not only buy weapons. People look at us. we decide someday to go buy
weapons Ior $30 billion. No. we buy other things to protect the civilian population. The civilian population. which is
something missing in this picture. does not consist oI Kuwaitis only but consists oI expatriates which number 120
nations. Here you talk about medical centers and services. Here we talk about the impact on our Iood and water.
Remember. Iran has got rivers we do not. So we have to really check water. Here we are talking about water not
iust Ior us. They say we enioy in Kuwait and the GCC a luxurious liIestyle. We have also ration cards. We get cards
Ior essential goods like rice and sugar and the like. In a state like Kuwait or the United Arab Emirates. the number oI
expatriates are larger than the nationals. In Kuwait it is one-third to two-thirds. So when a state so small like Kuwait
or the United Arab Emirates goes and issues Ior expatriates ration cards. it means we really take seriously the
Iranian contamination danger because oI the non-cooperation oI Iran. This is our card. This is the city.
This is the other scenario Ior us. It is something like September 11. Why? Because we had Iranian hiiackings in the
1980s. We are not blaming Iran out oI the blue. We are basing our planning on precedence and history and the way
we understand the culture.
I will stop here and tell you iust one thing with regard to reIugees. We have to control all these. II you look at the
west oI this picture and the south oI this picture. this is where American troops move. So basically this is the picture
I wanted to present to you Irom the grand strategic into the tactical and the real-liIe situation. What I am saying is
you do not need to kill the wiIe. the Iormer girlIriend. and you do not need to marry her and get her into the
household. She has got to have a special status and she has to know her borders and barriers. one oI which is the
Shatt-al-Arab waterway. II we allow Iran to go into the midst oI the Arab side oI the Arab GulI. it is as iI we are
sanctioning Saddam Hussein attacking Iran through the Shatt-al-Arab waterway. The only credibility Ior us is
international legitimacy and balance oI power in the region. Thank you very much.
Question & Answer:
Barbara Slavin: I want to thank our three speakers Ior very interesting presentations. We have a number oI very
good questions Ior them as well.
I want to begin by asking the three speakers Dr. Al-Farai. you Iocused a lot on Bushehr and lest we all Iorget. the
Russians have now supplied all the Iuel Ior Bushehr and there is talk oI actually starting this thing up by the end oI
the year. But I wanted to ask you about the other part oI the Iranian nuclear program. whether you all think Iran is
determined to build a bomb. to simply have some strategic ambiguity and have the rest oI the world think they could
build a bomb what do you think their intentions are. especially since we can`t count on the husband now to
necessarily keep them in check?
Sami Al-Faraj: Thank you. I am quite privileged to answer the Iirst question. II you understand Iran. it is nothing to
do with a person being suspicious. There is nothing wrong with a person being suspicious. to go and wash his hands
and be reclusive or whatever. But one trait oI the Iranian character is to be suspicious oI the other and. as we say in
the Middle East. to have them Ior lunch beIore being had Ior dinner. So I do not think they will trust you. I think you
have emphasized to them the example oI not trusting you aIter the Taliban and aIter Saddam Hussein. The only
viable deterrence Ior them is to make it really painIul Ior you. Not necessarily by nuclear weapons but by other
means available.
The other trait is over-conIidence in the Persian character. This is not something that is negative. not at all. but
sometimes it is over-conIidence when you talk about an area oI cooperation that they could do this or that. The more
we see the situation. the more you see the news the inability oI the Lebanese to elect a president. the inability oI
the international court to reach Ior the people who really assassinated Prime Minister Hariri. the success oI being
invited to sit with the United States to discuss what is happening in Iraq. I do not know what they say to you but to
us they use diIIerent language it is a threatening language. You do not want to meet Mr. Ali JaIari.
Barbara Slavin: The question was. do you think they are going to build a bomb?
Sami Al-Faraj: Not necessarily build a bomb. but they will iI they do not build a bomb |it is| because oI their
Iailures. not because oI lack oI intention.
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi: I think this question also has to be asked Ior the US national intelligence. when they surprised us
with their report saying that Iran stopped its military nuclear program since mid-2003. I think they are determined to
acquire the bomb because this is what makes them the superpower in the region. enhances their hegemony in the
region.
Wahid Hashim: Iran challenging the leadership oI the Muslim world it is challenging Saudi Arabia. BeIore. Saudi
Arabia was the leader oI the Muslim world without any challenge. Iran since the revolution has been sharing that
kind oI status and power. Iran also believes that in order to maintain this new status quo and expand its hegemony
and dominance in the region it has to be a powerIul country. not to mention what I mentioned beIore Pakistan
possesses the Sunni nuclear bomb and thereIore the Shi`ites are not able to have a balance oI power Irom that
perspective. I believe ideology is very strong in the Middle East. particularly the clear divisions that exist either in
the social strata or in the ideological strata. ThereIore Iran is imminent. will develop the Shi`ite bomb. I think that
has to be Iollowed by the so-called Arab nuclear bomb in order to have a balance oI power in the region.
Barbara Slavin: Do the other two speakers agree that GCC countries Saudi Arabia perhaps will develop a bomb
in return. iI Iran does this?
Sami Al-Faraj: I tell you this because I am privy to the workings prior to that decision. We never had an intention
to have an independent nuclear program. The way we look at it is quite wholesome. The way we look at it is
whatever Iran is doing is going to give it a technological edge and Iran should not have a technological edge because
we must not allow Iran to have any other edge besides its size and population. because it already has all the elements
oI hegemony. Added to that Iinance and technology and that is it.
Also we are talking about the collateral damage oI developing a program. even on the civilian side. So it was the
right time to declare that what we are going to do is basically we are bent on starting things within the realm oI
international legitimacy. Our approach has been we went as the GCC the GCC Secretary General met Mr. El
Baradei with a list oI all the treaties that we undertake to abide by and that we will be dealing with the nuclear
technology that is coming Irom the West. under the control oI the West. We have no stomach actually Ior any lapses
in security and saIety because oI the proximity oI our population centers and the size oI our population centers. So
we would not want to. Ior instance. have Russians or Chinese or whatever as we have seen the French. it will be
probably American and British and the like that is one thing.
II you allow me. I want to say one thing about the NIE and how it is perceived in Iran. You must understand that
Iran the way I understand it Irom precedent is we know about decision-making but we have to understand the
decision-makers and their experience. What we have today is a group oI seasoned leaders who know how to deal
with the world. honestly. So iI we look at the NIE. it says that the Iranians stopped any military aspect oI their
program in September. But we Iorget that the Iranians. because oI their revelations oI A.Q. Khan oI Pakistan. went
in Iront oI the IAEA in May and told some oI the story in June. and told other parts oI the story. and because oI
pressure in August told all the story. Irom which Mr. Gary Sick told you that their program dates back to 1985. This
was in August. In August started the European group trying to speak to Iran. So it is natural Ior the Iranians to stop
in September. It is the way they think. This has nothing to do with them making the right decision. This is their
perception oI the American presence in Iraq. You were there so you are mighty and big and you have iust destroyed
Iran`s arch-enemy. What do you think would dispel this Iear in the minds oI leaders who were present during the
downing oI the Vincennes. a civilian airliner? II we look at what RaIsaniani had revealed recently. he said that they
put one plus one together and that is there has been a concerted action Iraq is reclaiming the Faw peninsula with
Arab and Egyptian and Jordanian help; the Americans give them satellite inIormation; and then the Americans go as
Iar as shooting a civilian airliner. What is going to stop them?
So Ior people who were present then. they would be present now. In September 2003 they would say: oh my god.
maybe they will iust turn right and go. Your army. as I have seen it. is not the army you wanted to do today a
civilian iob. but it was an army designed in 2003 to crush any military might. I am telling you Irom military
experience Irom working with the American Iorces since 1990. That army raised Iears in the people who saw
echelons aIter echelons occupying 65 percent oI the territory oI the state oI Kuwait Ior its own operation and
movement. It is still doing that. It still raises Iear in the minds oI people who see it. I am sure it raises Iear in the
minds oI Iranians in September 2003.
Barbara Slavin: One oI our questions has to do with the notion oI US engagement with Iran. Given what has
happened in Iraq. given the way in which the United States has been weakened by the situation in Iraq. is it
advisable Ior the United States to begin a process oI engagement? Is it advisable Ior this administration or Ior the
next? How would that be interpreted in your countries?
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi: There will be an engagement we have to be there. It should not be behind us. We do not want to
come aIter. When you negotiate with them about Iraq. you did not invite us. Also about the nuclear capabilities
you did not invite us. The GCC does not want to be excluded Irom any deal or negotiation with Iran.
Barbara Slavin: Would you like some sort oI new security Iramework that would bring the Europeans. the
Russians. Chinese. Americans and the GCC countries together with Iran?
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi: I think a multinational approach is better Ior the region and better Ior you also. not to be alone
there. To engage also the Europeans. the Chinese. NATO also.
Sami Al-Faraj: The name oI the game there is you have an abundance oI Iinances being readied to be invested in all
these Ilashpoints in Iran. Iraq. Arab-Israeli territory all over the place. You have crashes oI stock exchanges in
the GulI because there are phony companies there. a company that is planning Ior landing on the moon or something
like that. whereas real development subiects are around us. So we have to look at what we need Ior continuous
prosperity and security Ior all. This cannot happen when you have the Iranian leadership the most important thing
about it is that it is not in sync with the others on how the others behave. It is in Iinancial ruins and it is talking
military.
The other aspect oI that is you have to maintain the pressure on the diplomatic Iront. We have to be one portion oI
that diplomatic team. We have to play the cards that are Middle Eastern cards. It is the knowledge oI the character.
the knowledge oI the trade it is like a bazaar. When you sit with Iranian diplomats. as we do. it is bazaar trade.
What is missing is the rugs and the pistachios. We are talking about nuclear. about labor.
There is one thing working Ior us and that is how Iran perceives its interest. The numbers mentioned by Dr. Al-Kitbi
are there. The interest with Saudi Arabia. the largest petrochemical producer. It is the expertise that can help Iran.
Third. Iran sees its interests across the GulI. This is the biggest deterrence Ior Iran the economic interests. the labor
opportunities. We have created more iobs on this side oI the GulI. the Arab side. without any attention to a Sunni-
Shi`a division more than the Islamic revolution has created. This is a Iact. So the possible Iuture. the prosperity. all
these things are the deterrent Ior Iran.
I will tell you about the change oI mind: the day that Condoleezza Rice presented the last trump card Ior the United
States. and that is to sit with the Iranians. to recognize them as a regime. and to have cooperation. The same day the
head oI the Revolutionary Guard said: whatever happens. iI there are any mishaps. any encounters. any military
action in the GulI. we shall not endanger the peoples oI the GCC. It was the same day. the 23rd.
Barbara Slavin: Dr. Hashim. iI you would reply but also iI you would talk a little bit about what happens as the US
withdraws Irom Iraq. There is a question about whether there will be some sort oI clash between Saudi Arabia and
Iran. iI not directly then through proxies in Iraq.
Wahid Hashim: First I would like to say that Irom 1979 until 1987. there was a cold war between Saudi Arabia and
Iran as a result oI Iranian attempts to export its revolution to the GulI. 1987 was the beginning oI the actual clash
between the two countries in Mecca. when thousands oI Revolutionary Guard demonstrated in the streets violently.
burned cars. destroyed houses. I was one oI those mutawwiI who had to deIend my pilgrimage and my property
against angry Iranian demonstrators. I think 400 people died that year. From 1987 until 1997. Iranian actions and
conspiracy in Mecca and Jeddah increased. My camp was also burned in 1997 with 3.000 pilgrims they did not
die. we evacuated them. but everything burned in that Iire. Not only my camp but almost two-thirds oI Mina. the
area where we were. OI course nobody gave us money Ior what we lost; it was 'God willing.¨
From 1998 a new era oI detente began between Saudi Arabia and Iran. when Khatami visited the Kingdom and went
to Medina and so Iorth. I think 1998 is a turning point because King Abdullah was running the state and he is open-
minded and moderate. He likes to build bridges. a strategic partnership with the world. with the countries in the
region. He has a new team oI royal advisors and experts who are willing to take actions rather than reactions. who
are willing to bridge the gap between Saudi Arabia and the rest oI the world. That is why Saudi Arabia managed to
solve its problem with the Yemen border. even with Qatar now lately. A new era oI coexistence began between
Saudi Arabia and Iran and I think that developed more obviously in the last year when King Abdullah invited
Ahmadineiad to attend the haii.
But we have to look again at the visits oI Prince Abdul Aziz and the security arrangements that have taken place in
Saudi Arabia in the last couple years that indicates that there is a tendency between the two countries to bridge the
gap and Iorget the diIIerences and rely on politics. the idea oI peaceIul coexistence.
Barbara Slavin: The question was how you would regard the question oI US engagement with Iran and are you
worried. as the US withdraws Irom Iraq. that there will be clashes. iI not directly. between Saudi Arabia and Iran. or
through proxies in Iraq.
Wahid Hashim: People are aIraid oI the domino theory. that iI Iraq collapses then all the GulI states will collapse. I
do not think that is really a true theory that could be applicable. neither to Kuwait or Saudi Arabia or the rest oI the
GulI states. We have to look at the legitimacy Iactor here and to what extent the regimes or the governments are
legitimate in these countries. The problem that becomes more dangerous to the whole region is the existing riIt
between Sunni and Shi`a. Iraqi in particular. and to what extent that can drag other groups in these states iI this
hatred and inIighting spreads. We know that Iran is playing a very important role in this division and it is not only
supporting the Shi`ite groups but Iinancing them. I know there is cooperation between Iran and Al Qaeda groups and
today we heard that two 'Al Qaeda Ieminists¨ are becoming a new trend in carrying out terrorist attacks in Iraq. The
goal oI course is to Iuel the tension in Iraq. When that tension becomes Sunni versus Shi`ite. Arabs versus Persians
or that kind oI Ieeling. then the whole GulI area will be part oI that. Most oI the tribes in Iraq are Sunnis those in
the south. the Shammar tribe and others like the Al Tayyar and the big tribes that are related to the tribes in Saudi
Arabia. That oI course might lead to more tribal war.
We have suIIered Irom tribal Islam and I have a theory on tribal Islam. Tribal Islam intermarried with Ianatic
universal Islam that is the marriage between Usama bin Laden and Zayman al Zawahiri. That kind oI marriage
leads to what we have seen since 2001. Now the Iear is that kind oI marriage might spread and become a marriage
between Sunnis versus Shi`a and the dangers will be unpredictable.
Barbara Slavin: There is a question about whether there is any relationship between the reIorm movement in Iran
and reIormers in Saudi Arabia.
Wahid Hashim: I do not see any relationship between the two. Since Abdullah was Crown Prince. particularly iI
you look at it Irom 1995-96 onward. he began economic reIorm at the beginning and then he reconstructed the
hierarchy oI economic institutions. He has a vision oI transIorming Saudi Arabia into a more modern state. more
modern than it is now. For example. he is rebuilding the educational system and he is working very hard to reIorm
the bureaucracy. We believe I believe the enemies oI the Saudis as well as the enemies oI all the world are three.
and I add number Iour to them: poverty. disease. hunger and I add corruption. Corruption exists everywhere in the
world. as we all know. and King Abdullah unleashed his war on corruption as well as his war on poverty. That
began years beIore reIorms in Iran. So we are looking at a new Saudi political system with new leadership who is
highly popular and beloved by the maiority oI the people. iI not all. Also he has high respect and support not only in
Saudi Arabia but also in the Arab and Muslim world. ThereIore he began reIorm in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and it is
continuing. whereas in Iran it began aIter 1998.
Barbara Slavin: There is another question on what individuals and groups in the region can do to try to improve
relations with Iran. Are there eIIorts being made through Shi`a communities. through the large Iranian community in
the UAE. to try to build some bridges? Dr. Al-Farai. you said the Iranians and the Russians are not telling you very
much about Bushehr but I presume you are trying to engage them at least on the issue oI nuclear accidents. Do you
see this trend going along with what is viewed as somewhat oI a reduction in US power in the region? Is it possible
that it will bear some Iruit?
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi: I think the Shi`a card can be played by Iran iI there is a real threat. It can be a troublemaker Ior
the GCC. But also the wrong signals are coming Irom Washington. The GCC are not sure what Washington wants.
When I talk about the NIE report. at the same time I think it was also thought that Washington gave Doha a green
light Ior inviting Ahmadineiad Qatar would not dare to invite Ahmadineiad without the green light Irom the
United States. So this is contradictory signals coming Irom your side. It makes the GCC they Iavor their interests
at the end oI the day. You strike against Iran. you will go home but we are in Iront oI them. So any retaliation will
be on our land. It is 8.000 miles between you and them. Also in Iraq you can iust quit and leave.
I am advising that anything regarding the region should be a consultancy with the people in the region. You are
doing your iob away Irom us. Engage us beIore engaging the others also.
Sami Al-Faraj: You asked me about the Russians?
Barbara Slavin: I asked iI the Iranian community in UAE or the Shi`a communities could be used to build bridges
and what I hear is no. they are only going to be a card that Iran will play to cause trouble. That does not sound very
promising. Do you have any hopes. especially as Bushehr is apparently going to come online in a couple oI months.
that there could be some sort oI productive discussions with Iranians that could be conIidence-building measures
between Kuwait and Iran? Or is that simply unrealistic?
Sami Al-Faraj: We have to think oI the worst-case scenario and that is to say that this is unrealistic. But the
precedence during the Iran-Iraq war we had a Iew incidents in Kuwait well. not incidents not terrorist acts or
anything perpetrated by Iranian nationals. There were incidents perpetrated by Kuwaitis oI Shi`a inclination. oI
other inclination including Christian inclination. The biggest terrorist group included all oI the above. Hiiacking
was perpetrated by lots oI people. we cannot iust blame but there were non-Kuwaitis. So the incidents on Kuwaiti
territory. there were Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis and the outsiders were non-Kuwaitis. Whether this is going to
happen. what we Iear today is that muddled situation. Today what we see is a rise in the aura oI Hezbollah to the
extent that it will challenge the existing order in any GulI state. For instance. I will give you the ad I read on the
plane when I came to Washington. DC. It was an ad by the Kuwaiti Ministry oI Interior saying that on February 25-
26 we are having the national days. The Ministry oI Interior warns everybody that only the Ilags and symbols oI
Kuwait are to be raised. Any non-nationals should not be raised and anybody who does that will be subiect to the
law. This means because we have witnessed the rise oI the Ilags oI Hezbollah and even in the most inconvenient
places like a soccer match. So we have people who are over-conIident about what they did to Israel.
The other thing is what we do not know and I do not say that Israel will have something to do with the instability
oI GulI nations but what we are planning today is when you ask any planner. especially military and emergency
planners. they will tell you the Iear oI American strikes on Iran is not as probable as beIore but this will give a
narrower window oI opportunity Ior Israel to act which means we are more scared today oI the Israeli Iactor and
the Hezbollah Iactor being used by Iran to preemptively strike. The Iranians assume that all air corridors will come
across our airspace.
Can we depend on the reasonable ones who live and prosper in the GCC? Because what we are trying to present to
Iran is the model. The model is that we are nations that consist oI national elements and then 120-128 |nations|. We
have contributed to the development oI all these nations through remittances. Today we are more capable I will
give you iust one Iigure. Today the Ioreign reserves oI Abu Dhabi and Kuwait are larger than China. Last year there
were Iour nations larger than China. including Saudi Arabia and Qatar; today without Saudi Arabia and Qatar; and
now we wait until March 31 to know about the exact surpluses. All the surplus we need to invest in our
inIrastructure. not to buy weapons or gear against radiation. Why do we need it? We have in some nations excess
electricity and we need water. So there is room Ior us to exchange with Iran. The problem is they do not think in
sync. That is the problem.
When you talk about Iran this is the Iirst time that I see selI-imposed deterrence. You are deterring yourselI Irom
engaging Iully. including all the cards with you the European Community. the Arabs. the Turks. others. You are
quite selI-deterred also Irom using other means like coercive measures. The alternatives open are either war or total
engagement. which cannot be happening overnight neither war nor total engagement.
Wahid Hashim: Simply speaking. the Kingdom oI Saudi Arabia began to use diIIerent tactics in order to engage the
Shi`ite community in Saudi Arabia since 2001-02. The Iirst time I have seen Shi`ite clergy Irom the eastern territory
and others Irom Medina and other Shi`ite Ismaili Irom the south to attend the King`s Mailis and to participate in that
Mailis. That was a strong development. strong reIorm. strong cooptation to these groups.
The second one is the King`s unleashing oI the national dialogue. That kind oI dialogue between the Shi`ite and the
Sunnis. between the liberals and the extremists and all diIIerent groups in Saudi society that was also a positive
one because even Iemales were engaged in this national dialogue. Also the King unleashed a new Islamic dialogue
between Muslim scholars Irom almost all the Islamic world. I have attended a conIerence in Mecca iust a couple
weeks ago when Muslim scholars came Irom all over the Islamic world plus the pilgrimage. That kind oI gathering.
brainstorming we began to understand more about Shi`ism in the last couple oI years than beIore. BeIore Shi`ites
were an enigma we did not understand. People moving in the dark. people have negative intentions. they want to
harm the Sunnis that was the stereotyping oI the Shi`ites beIore we opened up the society and started a new era in
talking and dialogue and discussing the diIIerent issues. I would like to thank the media. beginning with Al Jazeera
oI course and Al Arabiya and the rest oI the TV channels that really began to enlighten the people and correct many
oI their misunderstandings and misperceptions. particularly between the Shi`a and the Sunni. I do not Iorget oI
course the hard work oI our government to start a new era oI dialogue and discussion between Shi`ite and Sunni and
between all diIIerent strata in society. particularly those who are accused oI being secular or liberal and those who
are Iundamentalist and extremist. iI not Ianatics.
Barbara Slavin: I want to thank everybody.
Speaker Details:
Sami Al-Faraj is President oI the Kuwait Centre Ior Strategic Studies
Ibtisam Al-Kitbi is Assistant ProIessor oI Political Science at UAE University
Wahid Hashim is an Associate ProIessor oI Political Science at King Abdul Aziz University. Jeddah. Saudi Arabia
Barbara Slavin is Senior Diplomatic Reporter Ior USA Today. USIP
Introduction:
David Mack: I welcome this occasion to and was given the honor oI introducing our luncheon speaker. Ambassador
Pierre Vimont oI France. I will not give you a lengthy introduction but iust to mention that he served as the
ambassador and permanent representative oI France to the European Union Irom 1999 to 2002. Subsequent to 2002
and until a Iew months ago. when he came to Washington. he was the chieI oI staII to the Minister oI Foreign
AIIairs and in that position he was there at a very critical time Ior the evolution oI the policy oI France and the
European Union toward both Iran. in various respects nuclear. human rights. otherwise but also an evolution oI
policy toward the security oI the Arabian Peninsula and GulI region. We thought we would take advantage oI the
Iact that he is new in Washington and he is not one oI those voices that has been heard that many times in public.
and he comes with this very recent experience about policies oI our European allies European competitors
sometimes toward Iran and Iran`s neighbors. the subiect oI this conIerence.
Ambassador Pierre Vimont: Thank you very much. I am very pleased to be here and I would like to thank the
Middle East Institute. A Iew days ago I was thinking I would be able to give you my remarks in the coziness oI one
oI your panels and nobody would pay any attention to those and then suddenly I am upgraded to the keynote speaker
Ior your lunch and to talk about Iran. oI all issues. Being a diplomat. you can see the ordeal I am going through. But
I will do it as I have promised and we will go ahead.
I will try to give you a Iew remarks as honest and candid and lucid as I can be. speaking on the record oI course. I
think it is very interesting to exchange views at this time oI the relations between Iran. my country. Europe and
many other countries. I would ask two or three questions and go on to dwell on those questions and then I will take
also your questions aIter that.
The Iirst one is: what is the reality at the moment in the relations between Iran and its neighbors in the area. with
countries like France. with the United States. with Russia and China. etc.? The Iocus. as you know. is on the nuclear
issue. This Iocus on the nuclear issue is having many eIIects and consequences and implications in all the diIIerent
dimensions oI our relationship with Iran. Think Ior a second and I will be mostly talking about my country oI
course about the kind oI political relations we can have with Iran as we go on emphasizing the sanctions process.
increasing the sanctions and thereIore reducing our economic relations. the positions oI our enterprise. the exposure
oI our Iinancial institutions with regard to Iran. The nuclear issue is becoming the real central issue with our
relations with Iran. This we have to maybe think a little bit more. and I will say a Iew more words about that.
On the nuclear issue. what can I say Iirst oI all? II you look at the history oI the last several years we think we have a
sensible position. We started the three Europeans in 2003. As David Mack remarked. I was there in my oIIice at the
time. We started at that time a real negotiation with Iran sometimes this is Iorgotten but we managed at the time to
convince the Iranians to suspend their nuclear program in 2003 and it went on Ior a little more than one year. having
many discussions in diIIerent Iields with them. UnIortunately. without any success. Maybe the Europeans are to
blame partly; maybe the Iranians I will try to be as balanced as possible. But the Iact is. we did not succeed.
Then we tried to set up this new group oI Iive. managing to have the Americans on board with the Russians and the
Chinese. This group has been working since then at the ministerial level. at the political directors` level. I must say.
it has done some pretty good work. It has set up what we call this diplomatic option oI sanctions. economic and
Iinancial. on one side and proposals on the other side Ior deep and serious cooperation in many Iields with Iran. We
have time and again tried to convince the Iranians to go along those lines with the precondition that they suspend
their enrichment and reprocessing program that is going on at the moment. We have tried to keep as much as
possible the door open to try to convince them to show some opening. We have also managed so Iar to keep
unanimity inside the international community. All the resolutions we have taken so Iar inside the Security Council
have been adopted by consensus. So this is the good side oI the process.
The not so satisIactory side oI this process is that so Iar there has been no result. as you know. We are going on. We
are trying to improve the sanctions. There is a draIt Ior a third resolution on sanctions that is being discussed at the
moment in New York. aIter the six ministers oI the Group oI Six have Iound an agreement very recently in Berlin.
We are going through the process oI the Security Council and I must tell you this is not easy. We are still having
some diIIiculties with some oI the members but we are trying to reach an agreement on a new resolution. OI course
the maior point. at least Ior France. is to get a unanimous agreement. It is very important Ior us to show to Tehran
that the international community is united in this request Ior suspension oI the nuclear program that is at the moment
going on in Tehran.
It is unsatisIactory because even iI this sanctions process is going on we have no move at all on behalI oI Tehran.
Even iI we have tried to set in the Iramework oI those resolutions the condition oI suspension. we have tried to Iind
as much Ilexibility as possible. We have tried. the Russians have tried. the Chinese have tried. We have all tried to
convince the Iranian authorities that there could be some room Ior maneuver with a little help Irom everybody and
some goodwill. Nothing has come out oI this so Iar. Tehran has been adamant in going ahead with its nuclear
program and reIusing in any way to suspend it or to Ireeze it Ior a while. Ior a Iew days. etc. Nothing has come out
oI this.
The sanctions. as we understand. are starting to have some eIIect on the ground in Tehran. Interestingly. the
inIormal sanctions more than the Iormal sanctions or the oIIicial sanctions adopted in the Security Council. What do
I mean by inIormal sanctions? Simply the Iact oI liIe that many banks. looking at what is going on in the
relationship between our countries and Iran. have decided to be rather cautious and reduce their business with Iran.
Time and again when they have been noticed by oIIicials in each oI our countries that one oI the Iranian banks had
violated the sanctions adopted in the United Nations. they have taken the necessary measures on their own without
being asked with too much pressure.
So as Iar as we understand sanctions are biting but they are biting slowly. We all know. past experience is very clear
about that. sanctions policy is a policy that takes a long time to have some eIIect. You iust have to remember South
AIrica in the 1960s or 1970s. Rhodesia beIore it was Zimbabwe. and many others. Sanctions are not usually
something which has some quick eIIect.
This is where we are at the moment. I suppose the second question we have to ask ourselves: why is it so diIIicult to
get any result with the process we have set up. a process that has the agreement oI the whole international
community? I suppose we could say there are two main reasons Ior that. You have to try to understand in a better
way what is the situation at the present moment in Iran and what all this represents Ior the Iranian authorities. I am
sure you have discussed that in your panels so I will go over it very quickly.
The Iirst reason is that you have to look at the way Iran perceives itselI. how Iran sees itselI in its regional
environment. This is very important. II you look at the situation in the area Ior many years. Iran has since 1979 a
new regime aIter its revolution and has kept with that regime and has a permanent regime. which means they have a
lot oI political stability. Even iI inside that regime there has been some diIIicult divisions and contradictions and
battles. they still have the same regime in Tehran since then. Look at all their neighbors look at AIghanistan. how
things have changed there in recent years. Think about Iraq. Pakistan. the countries oI the Caucasus. Turkey and the
Kurd problem. Think also about the Iact that in recent years. whether it be in Iraq or AIghanistan. Iran has
experienced Western militaries on its borders in the west and in the east. With this Ieeling that one can have in
Tehran that things are changing around your country and sometimes that they can Ieel that there are threats around
them. they have a need to act and to move and to take bold initiatives in trying to assert their own position in that
environment. This is why you have and you can all detect that very easily this very strong will on behalI oI the
Iranian authorities to increase their inIluence in the area.
It is rather interesting iI you take some sort oI scoreboard and put on one side the diIIerent countries in the area
and on the other side the main issues that are in the area Lebanon. Turkey. the conIlict between Israel and
Palestine with Hamas. Pakistan. AIghanistan. etc. and you cross every time one oI these countries comes along
one oI these issues. at the end iI you look at the scoreboard there is one country and one country alone who has a
cross in all the diIIerent cases. That is Iran. They are there in most oI the issues we are Iacing. Take Lebanon and the
way the Iranian authorities managed to get a great inIluence on Hezbollah. Look at Hamas. Look even at what they
have done recently in AIghanistan. There were rumors about them starting some very concrete and practical links
with the Taliban movement. even iI they have denied such links. The Iact is that Iranian inIluence in the area has
been increasing a lot.
I would like to add two examples oI what seems to me to be a very important Ieature oI that inIluence. It is not only
a great inIluence in the Shi`ite community it has been recently also a very great inIluence inside the Sunni
community. Take Ior instance the war oI 2006 in Lebanon to see the inIluence that the Iranian position managed to
get in places like the Great Mosque in Cairo and the support they got in some oI those areas. This has been quite
Iascinating so I would like to stress that. In my opinion the nuclear program epitomizes to a large extent and is a
clear symbol oI the kind oI inIluence Iran wants to get in that area. and the Iact that they manage to increase that
inIluence and that we have to take that into account. We maybe have not done that enough.
The second point is that it seems to me that this nuclear program has become a sort oI national cause in Tehran.
What we have been trying. the Western countries. time and again is to get some sort oI edge and divide the so-called
moderates in Tehran Irom the radicals. As we have seen so Iar we have not managed very well. But what has been
very interesting Ior many oI us who have tried to get contacts with some oI those moderates in Tehran is that they
listen very careIully what we say; they tell us they will see what they can do; and nothing really comes out oI this. It
seems to me that it is because the nuclear program and the interest oI Iran in nuclear activities dates back to the days
oI the Shah. iI you remember around 1972-75. There has been this trend inside the Iranian nation Ior a clear nuclear
expertise and a great nuclear program. OI course the diIIerence is between a civilian program and a military
program. What the Shah was talking about at the time was a civilian program. We have our doubts oI course about
what is going on at the moment with regard to this Iranian nuclear program.
II there are divisions between the moderates and the radicals at the moment in Iran. it seems to me it is less on the
obiective oI getting the nuclear expertise as maybe a debate among them on the tactics. Maybe some oI them think
that President Ahmadineiad has not been the most able authority and has not taken the most useIul initiatives in
order to get Iran`s point ahead. But apart Irom those divisions on tactics there is deIinitely and Ayatollah
Khamenei has recently stated that again that Ior moderates iust as radicals the obiective is really to get the nuclear
capacity. even as they go on saying that this is not done Ior military use.
The third question: where do we go Irom here? As I was saying. we have not got exactly the results we wanted so
Iar and have not got any opening on behalI oI Iran. It seems to me that maybe we have to be more straightIorward in
trying to make a diIIerence iI we can on the issue oI nonproliIeration on one side and the issue oI Iran`s willingness
to increase its inIluence in the area. In other words. on the question oI the nuclear program on one side and the
question oI the political dimension oI this issue on the other side.
On the nuclear question. I think we have to stick to our point even iI so Iar we have not managed to get some
opening Irom the Iranians. even iI this new draIt resolution that is going ahead is diIIicult to get an agreement on. I
think we have to stick to our position. which is to be very Iirm on the Iact that iI we want to negotiate with the
Iranians they have to suspend their nuclear program Ior the simple and very concrete reason that iI this program is
not stopped and we go on negotiating. in three or Iour years time as we know Irom negotiating with Iranians we
will still be there negotiating whereas the nuclear program will have gone on and managed maybe to get to its Iinal
point. So there is a very practical reason Ior this need Ior suspension and we have to stick to that. I think we have to
stick also to the sanctions process because this is the way to convince the Iranians that we are very serious about
what we are saying.
At the same time. the second aspect oI the position that we have taken is that we have a lot oI good proposals that
we have addressed to the Iranians. providing them and pleading Ior cooperation with them. whether it be in the
nuclear civilian industry or Ior strategic dialogue with them. I think it is on this point that we have to stress more
what we want. Coming back to what I was saying previously. iI we all agree that really what Iran is looking Ior is to
get a role and play a more inIluential part in the aIIairs oI the region and maybe even Iurther on. in the aIIairs oI
the international community then we have to make it clear to them that we are quite prepared to do that but iI we
want to go ahead with that they have to be more Ilexible on the question oI their nuclear program and accept the
suspension. I think this sort oI deal has not been put enough to them. As we know. we may have contacts Irom time
to time with the Iranians and we Iind out clearly that we are equally looking Ior some sort oI political dialogue with
our countries. We have to say that Ior this political dialogue the precondition is indeIinitely the suspension oI their
nuclear program.
That Iorces all oI us in the international community to be much Iirmer with regard to any kind oI political contacts
with the Iranians and also with the economic contacts we may have with them. This is not easy. as you know. The
international community is not used to being as disciplined as we would wish. But we need to go ahead with that
and try iI possible at the end to get an agreement with them.
Like many oI you in this room. I have some experience dealing with the Iranians. In Iact I was posted there in the
1970s. One oI the Ieatures that has always struck me with my Iranian counterparts is that it is usually at the last
minute beIore midnight that you get a deal with them. I remember at one point leaving my counterparts in the airport
oI Tehran because we had not managed to get an agreement and iust as I was stepping on the airplane they called me
back and said okay. let`s get an agreement. We had enough Iun. let`s become serious.
So I dearly hope that maybe in the end something like that will come out oI the present diIIiculties we are Iacing
with them on this nuclear issue. Thank you very much.
Question & Answer:
David Mack: I want to thank you. Mr. Ambassador. Ior that unusually Cartesian and clear presentation Ior a
Washington event.
Ambassador Vimont: I am French. I`m sorry.
David Mack: We do have time Ior a Iew questions.
Question: |oII-mike|
Ambassador Vimont: Two answers to your question. With regard to the draIt resolution going ahead in the United
Nations. one oI the reasons why it is taking some time is not only that we had to get an agreement with the Russians
and the Chinese but now we also have to get an agreement with some oI the non-permanent members in the Security
Council. This may take some time. We have new members in the Security Council since January 1 and thereIore iI
we want to reach a consensus among those there is more work to be done.
To this I would add one remark. Among the problems we are Iacing is the Iact that some members oI the Security
Council would like to wait to see how the present contacts taking place between Mr. El Baradei and the Iranian
authorities go and how Iar he will reach a satisIactory agreement on his action plan regarding the controls he has
been asking Ior. There is a commitment by the Iranian authorities that by mid-February they will have reached an
agreement with Mr. El Baradei. ThereIore a Iew members oI the Security Council would like to wait Ior that.
Second. more precisely to your question about European sanctions. there also you have a question oI timetable.
Some oI our European partners this has been the maiority trend inside the European Community have precisely
asked Ior the European Community to wait and see how the present draIt resolution will go on in the Security
Council. ThereIore they seem to be ready to have some additional measures taken by the Europeans but they would
like to see beIore how this whole process ends in the Security Council. So work is going on in Brussels. We are
preparing the necessary text in draIt Iorm. But I think the deIinitive decision will only be taken once a decision is
taken in the Security Council.
Question: Mr. Ambassador. when Condi Rice made that oIIer to talk. she said as well that iI you would do what we
suggest there was a better side oI the oIIer. You alluded to that. what could be done to make it more attractive to
the Iranian side. The extent oI that oIIer at the time was never made very clear. Can you add anything to that as to
how Iar you might go now?
Ambassador Vimont: I think what it was all about. and we thought at the time this was a very important step made
by your secretary oI state because we always had the impression. even iI we were very happy to have this dialogue
between the three European countries and the Iranian authorities. that the real dialogue that Tehran was looking Ior
was the one with the United States. So when we got this approval by Condi Rice that we could put on the table this
new proposal saying that the United States would be ready to sit at the same table with the Iive others and start a
dialogue we really thought we had made a maior breakthrough. What surprised us once again because we are quite
oIten surprised by the Iranians is that there was not even a no. There was no answer at all. This seems to indicate
to us at least that is the interpretation we French have given to that is that the debate among the moderates and
the radicals in Tehran is so strong that they have not been able to make up their minds on how to answer that. Quite
oIten. in many cases we have seen in recent years whether it be very important issues like this question oI a
dialogue between your country and Iran. or more trivial issues we have the impression when we try to talk to the
Iranian administration that we get no answer because they iust cannot give one because they do not know exactly
how to react.
My impression. and it is a very personal note I am putting here. is that even the moderates must have hesitation
about starting this kind oI dialogue because they wonder what will be the implication oI such a dialogue on their
own regime and the stability oI this regime and the Iact that more divisions could appear among the regime and
public opinion iI there was this opening oI the country toward Western countries. So this is a very important
question Ior them. They do not know how to solve it and this is why so Iar they have not given any answer to that.
What I was alluding to was the Iact that maybe and French President Nicholas Sarkozy has said that again recently
maybe we have to stress the point once again to emphasize the very serious and solid proposals we have put on the
table. whether it be Ior political dialogue. strategic dialogue with the countries oI the area. Ior very clear. open and
Irank cooperation in the nuclear Iield we are ready to go very Iar and we have said so. with the agreement oI our
other partners in the Group oI Six. So we think maybe all this should be put once again back on the table. in the air
through the radios and whatever kind oI channel we can use to get this message through to Iranian public opinion.
This is what we are thinking oI at the moment.
Question: I am iust wondering what the eIIect oI the release oI the NIE had on European thinking. One would think
it would blunt the drive Ior sanctions but it appears not to have done so.
Ambassador Vimont: Surprisingly. with regard to Europeans and maybe also Russia and China it has not had too
much oI an eIIect. Our assessment oI the present Iranian nuclear program is an assessment that is shared by most
other countries. In other words. the way the Iranians are proceeding with their enrichment process. the level oI
centriIuges they have. the importance oI that program. does not relate at all with their civilian program. They have
one plant at the moment that is about to be open through an agreement with Russia. In this agreement Russia has
guaranteed it will provide this plant with Russian Iuel. As we go ahead and maybe Iran intends to go ahead with an
ambitious program Ior other nuclear plants. they still do not need as much Iuel as they would have iI they go on with
their enrichment program.
So we all agree on the Iact that this enrichment program as it is going on raises questions and we have never had
straightIorward answers by the Iranians. This assessment is shared by Russia. China. all our European partners. This
is why to say the least we were a bit surprised by some oI the conclusions oI the NIE. Whatever the debate that rose
Irom that report in your country. we in Europe and Russia and elsewhere decided that we had to stick to our cause
and go on. This is why the draIt resolution process is going on.
To be Irank. we are not as happy as we would like with this draIt resolution. We would have liked it to be more
ambitious and have stronger measures. But at least iI at the end oI the day we get a new resolution by consensus. I
think the political message addressed to Tehran will still be a very strong one.
David Mack: Mr. Ambassador. we all thank you Ior providing us with this presentation.
Speaker Details:
Pierre Vimont is the Ambassador oI France to the United States
Introduction:
Trita Parsi: Welcome to the Middle East Institute`s aIternoon session on Iran and the Levant. Iran has obviously
become one oI the top issues here in Washington. Even though the NIE may have reduced the sense oI urgency a
little bit. Iran is still seen as a very urgent issue in the region. We are delighted to have a distinguished panel to
discuss the perspectives oI some oI the countries in the Levant on how Iran`s role has developed and what the
challenges and the promises perhaps are in that regard.
We have been hearing a lot over the last couple oI weeks that it would be essential Ior the United States. Ior
instance. to Iind a way to break the Iranian-Syrian axis as a way oI being able to Iurther isolate Iran in the region and
use it as a vehicle to be able to push Ior an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Even though the Syrians ended up
participating in Annapolis. which clearly seemed to cause a lot oI irritation in Tehran. we have also seen other
developments that seem to go in the opposite direction. I am sure there has been a lot oI discussion about it in the
morning about Iran`s radical President Ahmadineiad attending the GCC meeting. doing the haii in Saudi Arabia.
as well as what seems to now be going on between Iran and Egypt and a potential rapprochement between those two
countries aIter more than two decades oI non-relations.
But what does this then mean Ior the region. iI instead oI the US being able to break the Iran-Syria axis the Iranians
are making advances and improving their relations with the Arab states. even though it may be temporary or perhaps
been going on in a very reluctant way Irom the Arab perspective? What does that mean Ior Jordan. a country whose
king coined the term 'Shi`ite crescent¨ but seems to be reluctant to speak or use that term much more? What does it
mean Ior Lebanon. which in the view oI some people has become an arena Ior a proxy war between the United
States and Iran? Is the conIlict and the political instability inevitably leading towards a proxy war in which |Iran|
and Syria are on one side and the United States and Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states are on the other?
In order to address these and some other issues we have a distinguished panel. Our Iirst speaker is Dr. Fares Braizat
Irom Jordan. the Deputy Director and Researcher at the Center Ior Strategic Studies at the University oI Jordan. He
has also spent a considerable amount oI time here in Washington. both as a congressional Iellow on the House
Foreign Relations Committee and at the Center Ior Strategic and International Studies. He holds a PhD Irom the
University oI Kent as well as a diploma in human rights and humanitarian law Irom the University oI Lund in
Sweden which by the way is where I also received some oI my education. I was shocked to see another Middle
Easterner there. Thank you so much and please welcome Dr. Braizat.
Fares Braizat: Thank you Ior giving me the opportunity to talk to you today about the Levant and Iran`s role in the
Levant Irom a Jordanian perspective. I do not know iI I have much to say aIter the excellent presentations we have
heard in the morning sessions but I will try to add something new and I hope that it will be new. since all oI you here
are interested in the region and in Iran and you are all almost experts on the issue.
Let me begin with three analytical areas through which we can understand the Jordanian and the Arab-Iranian
relationships. One is the sectarian religious identity. A second is the geopolitics and trade. The third is relations with
the West. These are three determining Iactors oI Iranian-Arab relations. As much as they apply to the Arab world in
general they do apply to Jordanian-Iranian relations.
In terms oI religion and sectarian identity. as Iran`s status in the region has evolved so has its brand oI Shi`a Islam.
now characterized by its sectarian nature more than its previous revolutionary appeal. Although Shi`a Iranian Islam
still possesses a certain revolutionary attraction it is distinctly contemporary in nature and has been deIined with an
anti-Western rhetoric and Iran`s response to current events in the region. including the 2006 summer war between
Israel and Hezbollah and the American invasion oI Iraq.
Sectarian religious identity serves this is my assumption here as a Iacilitating Iactor in mobilizing people Ior
political cause. It has evolved as a deIensive political Shi`ism and in response to regional and international pressure
and instability. The politicized Shi`a sectarian identity emerged in Iraq as a consequence oI dismantling the Iraqi
state. Then the US acknowledged religious. sectarian and ethnic identities as political identities Iorming the basis oI
inclusion and exclusion in the political process in Iraq. That was and is and will remain a mistake. because that
undermines the very concept that democracy promotion takes into account equality beIore the law and citizenship.
We are putting something beIore the citizenship principle.
The second category is the geopolitical. My colleagues this morning talked about the geographical proximity oI Iran
to Arab countries and that it is a Iate we cannot escape. Iran is there and will stay there and we have to live with that.
But there are certain developments that gave the geographical proximity a new meaning. One oI them is Iran`s
relationship with Iraq aIter the invasion. Iran took advantage oI new realities on the ground. It increased its support
to the Supreme Council Ior the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and also increased support Ior the military wing oI that
organization (Badr). It also supported all the new political elites in Iraq and established strong contacts with them
while Arab states have remained outside the immediate political intervention inside Iraq. Now there has been some
change. Some Arab states are getting engaged. although reservedly. It is better late than never but there is something
going on now.
A Iinal point on the security issue. Iran did not only weaponize its allies. it also weaponized and supported other
militant groups. including some Al Qaeda Iactions in Iraq. That was a maior concern to Jordan as a political issue.
The third Iactor is relations with the West as a determining Iactor oI Arab-Iranian relations and the Jordanian-Iranian
relationship. That goes in the reiectionist camp. which consists oI Iran. Syria. Hezbollah and Hamas. That puts a lot
oI strain on the way that Jordanian Ioreign policy Iunctions in the region. In previous Jordanian-Iranian relations we
can talk about three maior dimensions: history. especially since 1949; the security oI the Middle East; and current
Jordan-Iran relations.
In history. there was not historical animosity between Jordan and the Iranians. Between 1949 and 1979 there were
strong relations between Jordan under King Hussein and Iran under the Shah. There were some agreements signed
a 1960 agreement on cultural and educational exchange; in 1973 another agreement on commercial cooperation; and
in 1975 an agreement on tourism. Following that. between 1979 and 1991. strained relations which were
characterized by the idea oI exporting the Iranian revolution and Iran supporting underground opposition groups in
Jordan a concern that still exists today in Jordan. especially aIter the stronger Iranian presence in Iraq.
Between 1991 and 2003 relations were better. In 1991 King Hussein met with RaIsaniani in the Islamic ConIerence
in Senegal. That meeting was a step Iorward in establishing cultural and tourism between Jordan and Iran. AIter that.
which is the reIormist period. under President RaIsaniani and then President Khatami the Iranian government
suggested that it would welcome debate or dialogue with other countries. The Jordanian government responded and
that resulted in an oIIicial visit in 2003 by King Abdullah II to Iran. That was a maior step Iorward but it has not
really materialized aIter the invasion oI Iraq. Nothing really maior came out oI that.
Since 2003 until today and the election oI Ahmadineiad in 2005 brought new limitations on the way Jordan could
conduct its Ioreign policy with Iran. One maior issue is the continuing support oI Iran to groups that Jordan sees as
adversaries in Jordan and the region.
That brings us to relations in Middle East security the understanding oI Middle East security. In the 2006 summer
war between Israel and Hezbollah we witnessed Iranian support to Hezbollah. in which Iran provided Muhaier-4
weapons (unmanned aerial vehicles) to Hezbollah and Fair-3 missiles. Jordan was concerned that Hezbollah rockets
could reach its territory and it made Irequent public statements that this is threatening to the security oI the country.
As Iar as the Iraqi situation is concerned. it has become extremely important Ior Jordan to engage Iran on that Iront.
But it has not really materialized in any concrete steps on the ground. Ahmadineiad could be maybe the Iirst head oI
a Muslim state to visit Baghdad but he might be the Iirst one to visit while other. especially Arab countries are not
making Iraq or Baghdad as a destination Ior their political activities.
For Jordan. the invasion oI Iraq has been a maior security problem and it also created a humanitarian situation in
which Jordan got itselI involved. We have around 700.000 Iraqi reIugees in Jordan today. That puts a lot oI pressure
on basic inIrastructure in Jordan. in terms oI health. education. water and all that. The level oI internal security. the
rise oI extremism in Iraq also resulted in the November 2005 attacks in Amman. Terrorists crossed the border Irom
Iraq and three hotels in Amman were bombed. The new political system in Iraq has conIirmed the likelihood that the
Iraqi Shi`a maiority government will be naturally inclined to support Shi`a Iran as the region increasingly becomes
divided by questions oI Shi`a-Sunni sectarian identity.
The inability oI the international community to Iully address the complexities oI reconciliation among Iraqi internal
Iactions. coupled with the lack oI involvement oI Iraq`s neighbors. has allowed Iran to Iill the power vacuum that
was leIt in Iraq partly. yet signiIicantly. The Iuture oI how Iraq plays into the Iranian-Jordanian dynamic will be
largely aIIected by how closely Baghdad allies itselI with Tehran. Jordan has not been shy to express its unease with
Iran`s involvement in Iraq. a concern King Abdullah highlighted when he coined the now-Iamous phase 'the Shi`a
crescent¨ to describe his concern over rising Iranian inIluence in the region.
The other Iactor in the relationship is the non-state actors and Iranian support to non-state actors. For Jordan.
relations with Iran have recently concerned Iran`s involvement in internal aIIairs and the development oI Iran`s
nuclear program. From a Jordanian perspective. that would embolden Iran and would give its satellite Iactions in the
region a much stronger voice and role in the events that would aIIect Jordan`s stability. It would be perhaps an
unstoppable march oI inIluence.
Hezbollah was a maior Iactor in deciding how Jordan would approach Iran and engage Iranian politics. The
statement that was issued when King Abdullah and President Hosni Mubarak said something like 'this is
adventurism that does not serve Arab interests¨ created some negative reaction among public opinion in Jordan and
the region. Yet it has kept the public perception oI Hezbollah as a strong political Iaction that deIends what the
public sees as the Arab interest against Israel and the United States.
Recently in an interview in The Daily Telegraph a Jordanian oIIicer was quoted in the United Arab Emirates. while
at training that includes Arab air Iorce generals trained by Americans. as saying that 'we are training here to oIIset
any potential trouble in the region and that increased our collaboration with our Arab brothers.¨ This kind oI
statement is quite unusual. We have not seen statements coming Irom army generals or air Iorce generals talking
about military and political cooperation with the GulI countries and the Americans.
The last point I would like to mention quickly regards the possibility oI a deal between Washington and Iran and
where that would leave the Arab states. There are some speculations that an Iranian-American deal would not really
take place. To the contrary. there are speculations about a Saudi eIIort involved in mediating between Washington
and Tehran. How accurate that is will remain to be seen but one cannot simply assume that the Americans would
sign a deal with the Iranians and leave the Arabs unconsulted in that especially as they have been allies Ior a long
time and have been consistent in their support Ior American policies in the region. Thank you Ior listening.
Trita Parsi: Thank you. Dr. Braizat. I am sure we are going to get back to some oI the good points you mentioned
in your presentation in the Q&A. Our next speaker is ProIessor Joueiati. who is here in Washington a proIessor at
the National DeIense University. He is also an Adiunct ProIessor at George Washington University and has acted as
an advisor both to the European Union as well as to the Syrian government in various negotiations. He holds a PhD
in political science Irom the University oI Utah and an MA in Arab area studies Irom Georgetown University.
Murhaf 1ouejati: Thank you very much. Trita. Thank you. ladies and gentlemen. I am very happy to be here.
Thank you to the Middle East Institute Ior having me.
First oI all. I have many Iriends here. Many oI you know me and have seen this beard Ior the Iirst time. I do not
want to convey the message that I am trying to get the Ahmadineiad look simply because I am talking about the
Syria-Iran strategic alliance. In Iact this dovetails nicely with what Trita said at the start about attempts to wean
Syria away Irom Iran. In my presentation I am going to cover this. a presentation I have divided into three: where we
are now in terms oI the Syria-Iran alliance; how we got there; and Iinally. where do we go Irom here?
Syria. as you know. is an ally oI Iran and it is in the nexus oI the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance that is
intended Irom the Syrian and Iranian perspective to explode what Syria calls the American Proiect. OI course the
United States is allied to Israel and the United States has several Arab partners in this coalition Saudi Arabia.
Jordan and Egypt. Syria. unlike all the states that are represented here. does not Iear Iran. does not Iear the Iranian
nuclear enrichment eIIort. In Iact Syria supports that eIIort. in part because these eIIorts Irom a Syrian perspective
are consistent with Article VI oI the Nuclear Non-ProliIeration Treaty. which establishes the inalienable right oI
all the parties to the treaty to develop research. production and use oI nuclear energy Ior peaceIul purposes. I dare
say even iI the Iranian purposes are not peaceIul. Syria is not IearIul oI that again. because Iran in this case is
Syria`s big brother and it is 500 miles away Irom Syria.
Syria and Iran have a military alliance. They have had a deIense pact since June 2006. one that was strengthened by
a memorandum oI understanding in 2007. The alliance has intensiIied recently. The new Iranian ambassador. and I
believe he has been there Ior something under a month. is the vice-president Ior legislative aIIairs (a very important
position).
In addition to the military alliance there is a very intense economic cooperation. In 2006 Iran invested some $800
million in Syria. In accordance with the size oI the Syrian economy. this is a big deal. In 2007 Iran invested over $1
billion and it is proiected that by the year 2010 there is going to be over $10 billion worth oI Iranian investment in
Syria. These are in oil reIining. construction. the manuIacture oI cars and trucks and buses. cement works. glass and
rubber. Iranian investments thus Iar represent 66 percent oI total Arab investment in Syria and 50 percent oI non-
Arab investments.
This alliance oI course is not about economics. In Iact the deputy prime minister Ior economic aIIairs in Syria. when
asked why Syria was turning to the east. said: well. we would like to turn to the west. but the west has shut its doors
to us. Economics is not a Iactor in this alliance nor is ideology. As you can guess. Syria and Iran are truly the odd
couple. Syria is a very secular regime. Syria perceives itselI as the champion oI Arab nationalism and these things
are anathema to Iran`s theocratic regime.
Nor does sectarian aIIiliation have a very signiIicant Iactor. It is said that the Alawis. which are an oIIshoot oI
Ismaili Shi`ism. have an aIIinity to Iran`s Shi`ism. I do not think this is a maior Iactor at all. In Iact Irom a Syrian
perspective the statement by King Abdullah oI Jordan about the emergence oI a Shi`a crescent the Syrian regime
does not identiIy with this. Shi`is are not a monolith. There are many diIIerences between Iraqi Shi`is and Iranian
Shi`is; there are a huge amount oI diIIerences between Syrian Alawis and Iraqi Shi`is and Iranian Shi`is. There is
even more diIIerences between the Shi`is in the south oI Lebanon with the Alawis and the Iraqis and the Iranians. So
to say there is the rise oI a Shi`ite crescent in the Middle East Ialls on deaI ears among the Syrian elite.
A case in point: Syria is allied to Hezbollah. which oI course is a Shi`ite organization Ior the most part. but Syria is
also allied to Hamas a very Sunni organization. Here the point is that this aIIinity is not sectarian-based but is
based on Syria`s perceptions oI threat that emanate Irom Israel.
The alliance between Syria and Iran is interests-driven. It is truly a marriage oI convenience. For Iran. Syria gives it
the reach into the Arab-Israeli conIlict. For Syria. Iran is the big brother on the block a block that is a very
threatening environment to the Syrians. Syria is aIter all surrounded by US power. To the north. although recently
the relationship between Syria and Turkey has warmed tremendously. still Turkey is a very powerIul member oI
NATO and an ally oI the United States. Next door in Iraq there are 163.000 US troops. To the south oI Syria is
Jordan. which is the greatest supporter oI the United States in the Arab world. To the southwest is Israel. which
Syria does not regard in very kind terms. To the west there is Lebanon. which is a very threatening environment.
especially now that Syria has been eiected Irom there. There is oI course the Sixth Fleet oI the United States that is
very Iirmly anchored in the Mediterranean. So Syria Ieels surrounded and to make matters worse. Syria is the victim
oI US economic sanctions. The US withdrew its ambassador and the US is calling publicly Ior a change in Syria`s
behavior. although very Iew in the Syrian elite buy this. They are convinced that what Washington wants is a regime
change. To buttress that argument they point to at least two oIIices oI the Syrian opposition here in Washington.
So Syria Ieels threatened and it has revived that strategic alliance which is not new. How we got to here is since the
early 1980s. at the outset oI the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq war. the Iraqi invasion oI Iran at the
time HaIez Asad viewed that war as the wrong war at the wrong time against the wrong enemy in the wrong place.
The threat Irom Asad`s perspective Asad who sits 40 miles away Irom Israel is not Iran. especially an Iran that
now has escaped the Pax Americana. the American order. with the overthrow oI the Shah; with Khomeini. who gave
the Israeli embassy to the Palestinians; a Khomeini who had torn apart the CENTO treaty with the United States.
This Iran was no threat to the Arabs; we should embrace the Islamic revolution in Iran not on ideological grounds
but on the grounds that Egypt. which had iust concluded its separate treaty with Israel. which had iust exited the
Arab camp. which had leIt a huge power vacuum Iacing the Israelis it was Iran who was going to Iill this.
In addition to this strategic perspective whether Asad was right or wrong is irrelevant there are oI course the
idiosyncrasies oI HaIez Asad. Yes. he did have a socioeconomic-based sympathy with the poor rural Iolks the
tobacco Iarmers oI the south oI Lebanon. Yes. Imam Musa Sadr oI Lebanon had pronounced Alawis a sect within
Islam so that Asad could and should be viewed as the Muslim president oI Syria. You recall at the time the Muslim
Brotherhood. in that constitution oI 1972. had pronounced Alawis heretics and thereIore HaIez Asad was not Iit to
rule this Muslim country. Well. Musa Sadr saved him by this Iatwa. Imam Khomeini saved the Asad regime when
he declared the Muslim Brotherhood at the time in the late 1970s and early 1980s the Syrian regime and the
Muslim Brotherhood were on the verge oI civil war. and here is Khomeini. the grand master oI Islam. declaring the
Muslim Brotherhood as merely puppets oI the United States.
So as a result it is natural that Asad would look to Iran Ior strength. This alliance however. although it is the most
enduring alliance in the Middle East dating back to the early 1980s this alliance was never Iree oI problems.
Remember the turI wars in Lebanon between Amal. the surrogate oI Syria. and Hezbollah. the surrogate oI Iran.
Remember the Syrians being opposed to the kidnappings oI Americans and others in Lebanon and succeeding in
many instances in releasing them. Remember that HaIez Asad was totally opposed to the TWA hiiacking and had
been able to successIully release the hostages.
There were many problematics with Iran. Syria at the time was trying to show the United States that it is and could
be the stabilizer oI Lebanon. But the alliance then under the days oI HaIez Asad I think was one oI equals. Today it
looks to me more like a patron-client relationship. and I do not say this to diminish Syria. But certainly Syria is the
iunior in this partnership. Young Asad is not his dad. he is not the strategic thinker that his dad was. and the Syrian
elite now Iaces an existential threat.
Where do we go Irom here? I think despite the Iact that this is a strategic alliance it can end. We saw some oI this
Syria came to Annapolis despite the advice oI Iran. Syria is trying to signal the United States. I believe. that it could
and would do away with its alliance with Iran iI it were able to resume talks with Israel. iI it were able to have
ironclad guarantees that it is going to recover the Golan Heights.
I look Iorward to your questions.
Trita Parsi: Thank you so much. Our next speaker is ProIessor Judith Harik Irom the Matn University in Beirut.
She is recognized as a leading expert on Hezbollah and the Lebanese civil war. She taught at the American
University in Beirut until 2003 when she became president oI Matn University. She holds a PhD and an MA Irom
the University oI Iowa and a degree Irom Drew University.
1udith Harik: Thank you very much. Thanks to the Middle East Institute Ior inviting me. I am going to talk about
Iran`s Ioreign policy in Lebanon today and its Iuture relationship with Hezbollah.
Iran`s Ioreign policy in Lebanon is less important than its interest in Iraq. AIghanistan and the GulI states. where the
issues addressed revolve around national security. In Lebanon on the other hand. ending regional isolation and
showcasing Iran`s growing power are Tehran`s two main Ioreign policy obiectives. As in Palestine/Israel. these
goals are achieved by supporting an organization struggling to recoup Arab land occupied by Israel Hezbollah.
Lebanon provided Iran Iertile ground Ior implementation oI this policy since a signiIicant Shi`a community had
been traumatized by Israeli attacks and politically mobilized since the 1960s. Within that community there was also
an important Islamic current that could be tapped to conIront Israel. The policy developed by Iranian leaders Ior
Lebanon is thereIore evidenced by action on two Ironts: one. the provision oI Iinancial and economic resources by
Iran to the Lebanese Shi`ite community. especially during periods oI emergency; two. support Ior Hezbollah in the
resistance against Israel.
In the Iirst instance Iran has brought institutional. developmental. economic and Iinancial resources to the Shi`ite
community that have made a substantial improvement in the living standards oI this neglected group. In addition
during and aIter periods oI military conIlict Tehran provides emergency assistance aimed at rehabilitation and
reconstruction. As the level oI destruction wreaked on Lebanon was so extensive in the summer war oI 2006. Ior the
Iirst time Iran sent a mission headed by an engineer (Hossam Khoshnevis |phonetic|) that would take up residence
in Lebanon so as to quickly implement and manage reconstruction and rehabilitation oI a wide range oI institutions
and inIrastructure. According to Khoshnevis |phonetic|. the proiects he directs include among others: work on 330
damaged or destroyed schools serving an estimated 700.000 students; repairs to 20 hospitals and inIirmaries; and
nearly 700 kilometers (550 miles) oI road and highway rehabilitation. These proiects. it was understood and
underlined. are carried out in Christian. Sunni and Shi`ite communities subiected to Israeli bombardment
It is important to note however that neither proIessionals nor staII employed by Hezbollah that is. by their
reconstruction organization Jihad al-Binaa have any involvement in the Islamic Republic`s programs. In return Ior
the beneIits these programs convey. identiIication with Iran and the Shi`ite community is Iurther enhanced.
In the second case. support oI Hezbollah. over the past 25 years Iran has oIIered Hezbollah training. equipment and
Iinancial resources necessary Ior the Iielding oI an eIIective resistance operation against Israeli occupation. In the
early 1980s it was a contingent oI Iran`s Revolutionary Guards that had come to the Baalbek area oI the Bekaa
Valley that commenced the recruitment and training oI Hezbollah`s cadres. This direct intervention by the
Revolutionary Guards however was phased out aIter 1987 and by 1989 it ended. Since then rumors have circulated
about the presence oI this organization during the maior clashes between Hezbollah and the Israelis in the 1990s.
They resurIaced during the summer war oI 2006 when there were reports that oIIicers oI Iran`s Revolutionary Guard
were directing Hezbollah operations in the battle zone. Anthony Cordesman. senior military analyst at the Center Ior
Strategic and International Studies in Washington. made it his business to address these rumors on a trip to Israel
aIter the war. In his preliminary report on the war he wrote. 'One key point is that no serving Israeli oIIicial.
intelligence oIIicer or other military oIIicer Ielt that the Hezbollah acted under the direction oI Iran or Syria in the
war theater. Hezbollah`s independence oI action during Israel`s massive land. air and sea attacks would thereIore
seem to indicate that its military Iorces had outgrown the Revolutionary Guard`s tutelage and that these Iorces have
become an Arab army in their own right. At any rate. to my knowledge there have been no Iacts brought to light that
members oI the Revolutionary Guards have visited Lebanon beIore. during or aIter the summer war.¨ |note: end oI
quote not speciIied|
However. the word is that Hezbollah engineers began preparing the ground perhaps literally south and north oI
the Litani River Ior a Iuture conIrontation with Israel that is believed to be inevitable. They began this immediately
aIter the ceaseIire came into eIIect in August 2006.
As a result oI Iran`s two-pronged Ioreign policy. Tehran has also been able to develop a role Ior itselI in the internal
politics oI Lebanon much as Saudi Arabia has done through assistance provided to the Lebanese Sunni community
there. Iran`s involvement in Lebanon`s internal politics today however is basically limited to Iending oII possible
sectarian striIe between the Sunni and Shi`ite communities when street tensions rise as a result oI the political
deadlock that has paralyzed the country since the assassination oI Prime Minister RaIiq Hariri in February 2005. At
present contacts with Iran`s Ioreign minister and national security advisor are being made by European and Arab
oIIicials and especially by Saudi oIIicials to try to Iacilitate a negotiated solution to Lebanon`s political impasse. In
this respect. Tehran has been encouraging its allies in Lebanon to resolve their diIIerences with others in a peaceIul
manner.
The above discussion indicates that Iran`s Ioreign policy in Lebanon is relatively limited in terms oI what it can do
Ior the Lebanese. However. the Lebanese and particularly Hezbollah oIIer Iran the possibility oI developing
inIluence outside its borders. inIluence that may be utilized as a bargaining chip in the power politics oI the Middle
East. Looking toward the Iuture. how would that be possible and what would be the reaction oI the broader Shi`ite
community that is represented mainly by Hezbollah?
To answer this question I recently had a wide-ranging discussion with a very senior Hezbollah leader. Two oI the
questions I posed may be oI particular interest in this conIerence. The Iirst question Iocused on the present
relationship between Iran and Hezbollah and asked what leverage Iran might have over the latter. The second
question asked whether this relationship might evolve or change in the Iuture. particularly iI Iran is attacked by the
United States.
On the leverage issue the response was that institutional goals oI both actors converge on opposition to Israeli
occupation and on American policy and material support Ior that country in the Arab-Israeli conIlict. Special
congruence was articulated on the issue oI Jerusalem as the spiritual capital oI Islam. However. when asked who
calls the shots. Hezbollah or Iran. the leader`s response was that Hezbollah has broad latitude in its decision-making
process and is very much insulated Irom any dictates Irom Iran. whether political. social or military. The Hezbollah
leader then provided an illustration oI his organization`s capacity to call the policy shots as Iollows: 'Many times
over the years the Iranians have come to us with military and political initiatives that they believe would serve their
country`s interests in Lebanon. But iI those initiatives did not serve Lebanon`s interests as we see them. most oIten
we were able to convince them to modiIy or even abandon those initiatives. In policy discussions. more oIten than
not we inIluenced them rather than the other way around.¨ The very senior Hezbollah oIIicial emphasized that to
this day there has not been a single instance oI Hezbollah going along with Iranian requests that were deemed
counterproductive to organizational interests or to Lebanon`s interests as determined by party leaders.
When asked iI the relationship described might change iI Iran threatened to withhold military material or economic
support. the senior Hezbollah oIIicial`s emphatic response was. 'Hezbollah has the capacity to secure military
hardware Irom the same sources that supply Iran.¨ The economic dimension oI Iranian assistance. he said. is also not
oI maior concern since Hezbollah has substantial independent sources oI this type oI support Irom the Lebanese
Shi`ite community and expatriates. Iran. and both Sunni and Shi`ite residents oI the GulI. He noted that this broad-
based private assistance expanded considerably as a result oI Hezbollah`s perIormance against Israel in the summer
war oI 2006. He also said that over the years Hezbollah`s various institutions have developed maior Iinancial
reserves that can be used to bridge any possible gap in support by Iran that might be important to the operation oI
these institutions or resistance activities. He cited the benevolent loan micro-credit institution Al Khor del Hassan
|phonetic|. which has thousands oI employees. as an example oI such institutional largesse.
I iust happen to have interviewed in January 2007 Hezbollah`s Iormer social and public services director. Sheikh
Hussein Shami |phonetic|. who is now director oI the micro-credit program. I was brieIed on the development
Iunctions and dimension oI that institution. Shami indicated that the micro-credit program he had been instrumental
in creating and developing had grown tremendously since it began in 1984. He emphasized that it had had no
support Irom any country or other association or group oI note. According to him this growth was the result oI
careIul planning and the application oI sophisticated Iinancial techniques and actuarial science. Shami noted that the
organization he heads has accumulated to date a loan Iund in excess oI $1 billion that is available Ior micro-credit
purposes and that micro-credit is not limited to members oI the Shi`ite community. He explained that this money
materialized through a simple and very popular system oI public participation that grew Irom 25 individuals in 1984
to 57.000 participants and contributors at the end oI 2006.
This inIormation may lead some to believe that Iran`s relationship with Hezbollah can be considered today as more
oI a partnership cemented by common strategic goals than a state-client relationship. whether in economic and
Iinancial Iields or in military and political ones. I suggest that the extent oI Iran`s leverage over Hezbollah may not
be as important as Iormerly thought.
The question now beIore us is whether the relative independence described above would prevail and Hezbollah`s
behavior would remain the same iI a more serious situation conIronted the actors such as an American military
action against Iran. When the scenario was posed the Hezbollah leader became considerably more animated. The
speciIic questions raised were: iI Iran was attacked. would Hezbollah be asked to enter the battle? II so. would the
Ireedom oI action you described be somewhat restricted or would Hezbollah have some leeway in deciding the
course oI action? The leader`s response to these hypothetical questions provide some compelling inIormation on the
subiect.
He noted that Hezbollah has Iactual and speciIic inIormation Irom Iran`s leadership that iI Iran is attacked at any
time by the United States. with or without its allies` assistance. Iran`s immediate military response would be an
attack on Israel and on American bases in the GulI and the region. including Iraq. I was also told that in this case
Hezbollah would then assess the situation and plan its course oI action on the basis oI how Israel would react in the
days Iollowing Iran`s attack. SpeciIically. Hezbollah`s expectation is that such a military development in the region
would result in a general conIlagration involving other countries and most likely would lead to an Israeli attack on
Lebanon and Syria within the Iollowing Iew days. The Hezbollah leader continued by saying. 'We are prepared Ior
such an attack on Lebanon and we will present Israel with a new type oI warIare that will be a maior strategic
surprise Ior their armed Iorces. The issue oI whether we will be called upon to enter the battle by Iran may thereIore
not be relevant. On the other hand. iI we are spared an attack Irom Israel the decision oI whether or not we enter the
battle to support the Iranian war eIIort remains a policy matter to be decided upon by Hezbollah leaders iI and when
the situation arises.¨ From this discussion. the notion oI a reIlexive reaction by Hezbollah in response to a request
Ior military action Irom Iran is called into question.
But whether we accept Hezbollah oIIicial statements oI their organization`s relative independence Irom Iran at Iace
value or not. it is a Iact that its leaders have had 25 years to try to build a complex and selI-sustaining institution. It
can thereIore be assumed that reducing however and wherever possible the vulnerability conveyed by reliance on a
single external source oI material and Iinancial support. such as Iran. would probably be an institutional priority.
The degree to which Hezbollah has been or may become successIul in this endeavor would thereIore certainly have
to be Iactored into any Iuture relationship between Iran and its Lebanese ally. where strategies and tactics to be used
in the Lebanese theater are concerned.
I would now like to conclude by summarizing some points and suggesting some recommendations Ior US analysts
and policymakers.
One. when dealing with Ioreign policy toward Iran it is important Ior experts to realize that Tehran`s leaders may
not have as much leverage over Hezbollah as previously thought. It appears that Iran`s Lebanese ally may thus have
to be dealt with as a partner oI Iran rather than its client. As such Hezbollah should be considered and addressed
directly as Lebanese actors with a Lebanese agenda rather than a simple agent oI Iran.
Two. US Ioreign policymakers should also realize that iI a military option is chosen to Iorce Iranian compliance
with American demands they are opening up the serious possibility oI broader regional conIlagration involving
Iran`s allies and partners. The Iact that Iran has communicated to Hezbollah its clear intent to attack Israel regardless
oI whether or not that country participates in the initial attack on Iran seems to indicate a clear strategic position
taken by Tehran that widening the conIlict is in their country`s best interest. In other words. as a byproduct oI Iran`s
Ioreign policy in Lebanon. this small country may again be placed in the eye oI the storm regardless oI what all
parties in Lebanon may want.
Third. the space that Hezbollah may well have staked out Ior itselI in the realm oI political and military decision-
making makes it unclear as to whether the Party oI God would indeed enter a conIlict initiated by an attack on Iran
that had no direct bearing on Lebanon. whose interests it proIesses to serve. This idea should probably be given
some consideration by strategists in deciding America`s political or military options vis-a-vis Iran.
A Iinal observation. Hezbollah`s apparent emergence as a political actor in its own right in the Levant presents US
policymakers with the challenge oI viewing this organization in a new light and provides opportunities to revisit
strategic planning that has rested on the assumption that Hezbollah was a client oI Iran`s instead oI the partner that it
is becoming. Thank you.
Question & Answer:
Trita Parsi: Thank you so much Ior those excellent presentations. I have been Ilooded with great questions but I am
going to use my prerogative as the chair to ask the Iirst one. We saw many diIIerent perspectives here. It was
interesting to see that Irom the Syrian perspective there seems to not be a Iear oI Iran. at least not the same type oI
Iear that may exist elsewhere in the region. While Jordan on the other hand is looking very concerned about
developments in the region and Iran`s role in it. Despite these diIIerences. is there a common interest between
Jordan and Syria and other states to perhaps not see a US-Iran reconciliation Irom the Jordanian perspective.
because oI a Iear oI not being consulted and then be excluded Irom such an arrangement; and Irom the Syrian
perspective perhaps that any deal between the United States and Iran would then weaken the Syrian-Iranian axis and
leave Syria somewhat without its big brother. Beyond that. iI there is consultation between the United States and its
Arab allies. would those Arab allies view a reconciliation between the United States and Iran as Iavorable and be
supportive oI it or is the status quo the best option? That also applies to Hezbollah. How would Hezbollah view such
a development?
Feres Braizat: I think the Jordanian position has been quite clear. King Abdullah repeated it Irequently. that Jordan
seeks a peaceIul diplomatic solution to the standoII between the United States and Iran on the nuclear issue. But that
is not the only Iactor involved in this. There are many other Iactors involved. ranging Irom the Iraqi situation to
Iinancial support and diplomatic support oI Hamas and Hezbollah.
On the Arab Iront. I think it has become quite clear recently that aIter the visit oI President Bush to the region that
Arab states are very much interested in a diplomatic solution to the crisis. They do not make it secret that they do not
want the region to go through another war because that would be catastrophic both to their states and societies and to
Iran and security in general in the GulI area.
Murhaf 1ouejati: In the case there is a reconciliation between the United States and Iran. iI this reconciliation is a
package deal that includes beneIits Ior Iran`s ally Syria. Syria would applaud it. II on the other hand that
reconciliation between the United States and Iran leaves Syria out in the cold. that certainly would weaken Syria. In
that case. what Syria would do then is to return to what is called the Arab consensus. Let`s not Iorget that Syria leIt
the Arab consensus. leIt the pillars oI the Arab order Egypt and Saudi Arabia a Iew years ago because they were
not able to deliver Syria Irom the wrath oI the United States. This is why Syria like a pendulum swung to Iran in
view oI its security. Again. iI Iran leaves Syria out in the cold. Syria like that pendulum is going to go back to the
Arab order.
1udith Harik: It is an interesting question. Hezbollah views itselI as selI-sustaining. even iI we say relatively selI-
sustaining. I think iI Iran moved out oI the strategic relationship with Syria and withdrew some support Irom
Hezbollah. it would not make all that much diIIerence. Depending on what Syria would do I think that Hezbollah
could continue to receive weapons probably through Syria. Probably cut back on its social services but it could cut
back 50 percent on the social services and the Shi`ite community would still be dependent on Hezbollah because
they do not have any other real social or public service network.
This would depend on what Syria would do. But I think what is interesting in what you said is the Iollowing. II what
you predicted might happen. would Syria say: never mind the Golan Heights? Or would it continue to try to use
Hezbollah as a little nudge to Israel now and then that that issue should stay on the Iront burner? Personally I do not
see Syria giving up a maior card in regaining the Golan Heights.
Murhaf 1ouejati: Certainly I agree with you. I cannot imagine any Syrian leader standing beIore his public and
saying never mind the Golan Heights. The modicum oI legitimacy that the Syrian regime has would decline even
Iurther. Syria would perhaps give up on its relationship with Hezbollah iI it were able to recover the Golan Heights
but it would probably continue using its relationship with Hezbollah in order to exercise leverage on Israel. in order
to exercise this instrument oI power. Unless oI course the threat to Syria as a result oI its support to Hezbollah
becomes existential to the dominant political elite.
Fares Braizat: Just one last point. Jordan tried to engage Syria King Abdullah visited Syria recently and the
Syrian prime minister came to Jordan to sign a Iew agreements and that was seen by the US as an unwelcome
move. The United States did not support that eIIort given the circumstances. But I think Jordan and other Arab
countries have a vested interest to bring Syria back to the Arab orbit and disentangle it Irom the Iranian orbit.
Trita Parsi: I received several questions with regard to Hamas directed to ProIessor Harik. You made an excellent
presentation about the relationship between Hezbollah and Iran. Would you be able to speak on Iran`s relations to
Hamas as well?
1udith Harik: I will not be able to speak with as much assurance but certainly it is based along the same lines as its
relationship with Hezbollah. OI course aiding Hamas is much more diIIicult. As Hamas leaders once said to
Hezbollah leaders: you guys get everything. We have to do this resistance on our own.
It is a bit diIIicult. as we have seen. Ior Hamas to get the same kind oI weaponry that Hezbollah gets Ior obvious
reasons. and these are geographical reasons as well. But at present it serves Iran`s credentials as a deIender oI
Jerusalem particularly to continue supporting Hamas. a Sunni organization does not make much diIIerence.
Trita Parsi: The degree oI Ireedom that Hamas then has Irom Tehran would be greater. compared to what
Hezbollah has?
1udith Harik: Yes. I suppose so. I would say probably so. I have not really taken time to think about that. But as I
have spoken on the Iact that Hezbollah has generated some independence Irom Iran. I imagine the Iact that Iran
cannot do everything Ior Hamas that it does Ior Hezbollah would mean that Hamas has more leverage and probably
turns more to Syria.
Murhaf 1ouejati: Syria probably has more leverage on Hamas than Iran. iust as Iran probably has more leverage on
Hezbollah than Syria.
Trita Parsi: I received several questions also directed to Dr. Braizat in regards to your comment about Iranian
support Ior Al Qaeda elements in Iraq. Some questioners want you to speak a little more about that; others are
asking Ior more speciIic evidence and examples.
Fares Braizat: Iranian support Ior some elements oI Al Qaeda in Iraq is no secret. I have been inIormed by many
people who work on these issues that they have evidence. especially Iraqi individuals who ioined the Mailis Al-
Sahwa. the Awakening Council in Iraq. Recently I met someone in Amman and he detailed to me some inIormation
about that. That is one speciIic example but a more general Iramework is that Iran has had a policy oI supporting
every single element that would destabilize Iraq and make the situation in Iraq as diIIicult as possible Ior the United
States. Within that Iramework one would understand why Iran would provide explosives to diIIerent elements in the
Iraqi 'resistance movement.¨
At least 15.000 people crossed two months aIter the Iall oI Baghdad Irom Iran to Iraq the Badr Brigades and
others. Those people did not come to Iraq as tourists. They came with a political agenda. They are the beginning oI a
political process the Iranians have developed over the coming months and years in Iraq.
Trita Parsi: The Golan is important Ior Syria but in your opinion. is maintaining inIluence in Lebanon more
important to Syria?
Murhaf 1ouejati: I am oI the view. rightly or wrongly. that the Golan is the Iirst and Ioremost priority oI Syrian
Ioreign policy. The Iirst and Ioremost priority oI the Syrian political elite is survival let us not make any mistake
about that but aIterwards it is the recovery oI the Golan Heights more than it is inIluence in Lebanon. Syria does
what it does. whatever it does. in Lebanon in view oI trying to prevent Lebanon Irom Ialling into Israel`s clutches.
So iI Syria were able to recover the Golan Heights diplomatically it would not need to have the kind oI inIluence it
wishes it had in Lebanon. This holds true whether in relationship to its inIluence in Lebanon or its relationship with
Iran or with Hezbollah or Hamas.
Trita Parsi: We spoke earlier on about recent discussions that have been going on between the Egyptians and
Iranians. The Iranians have come out and said that there is a likelihood that they will actually resume diplomatic
relations with Egypt and there have been conversations on the phone between Mubarak and Ahmadineiad. How do
you view that and how do you believe Beirut. Damascus and Amman views that development?
Murhaf 1ouejati: This dovetails with the Iirst question. II Syria Ieels that it is going to be leIt out in the cold.
especially by its Iranian ally. it is going to be very weakened. On the other hand Syria tries to make it such. at least
to other Arab states. that it is the natural bridge between Iran. with which it is allied. and the other Arab states. So iI
Syria knew that it could get something out oI this Iranian-Egyptian rapprochement it probably would want to exploit
it to the hilt in showing that it has been the one to cement such a relationship.
1udith Harik: This is my Iirst mention oI the Lebanese government. but I think the present Lebanese government
would welcome that development. It is a pro-US-oriented government and it would. Hezbollah would not view that
very happily.
Fares Braizat: Just a couple days ago President Mubarak received the speaker oI the Iranian Shura Council. That
was one event in a series oI events that pointed to the strengthening relations between Egypt and Iran. Egyptian-
Iranian relations were the most diIIicult since 1979 compared to other Arab states. except Iraq. I think there is a
strategic view that there must be a security pact that would include Arab states as well as Iran and other countries in
the region. perhaps Israel and Turkey. in order to avoid military conIrontation in the GulI. especially between the
Americans and Iranians. II one takes that Ior granted. one would also understand that the Egyptian movement
toward engaging Iran a little more makes a lot oI sense not only because the Egyptians are interested. also the GulI
states are very much interested in that process. They need the diplomatic support and the weight that Egypt has is
extremely important Ior such an eIIort to succeed.
Trita Parsi: We discussed earlier that Syria truly believes Golan to be the highest priority and its involvement in
Lebanon and elsewhere is mostly geared toward achieving that obiective. In September 2007 Shimon Peres said the
time is ripe Ior an Israeli-Syrian deal. There have been persistent rumors that there is readiness in Syria and in Israel
but there may not be readiness in Washington. Could you shed some light on that and also say iI there are any near-
term prospects Ior any deal between Syria and Israel?
Murhaf 1ouejati: Frankly. in the short term. no. Not until this administration gets on the tarmac oI an airport and
says bye-bye. I do not see the Bush administration trying to encourage the Israelis to hold talks with Syria so we are
going to have to wait Ior aIter this administration.
Another impediment to this is the weakness oI the Olmert government. Israeli withdrawal Irom the Golan Heights is
not a very popular issue in Israel. So I am not very encouraged about the prospects oI peace between Syria and Israel
unless and until there is an administration in Washington that wants to see this through.
On the Syrian side. however. I would like to restate here that the Syrian government has said that it has been
interested and it is interested in resuming peace talks with Israel since the accession to power oI the young President
Bashar Asad. This is nothing new and he has repeated it and he has been consistent in it. So Damascus hears some
positive noises Irom Israel Irom time to time and negative noises Irom time to time. Under this administration. oI
course. has heard nothing but negatives Irom Washington.
Trita Parsi: And why is that?
Murhaf 1ouejati: For a host oI reasons. The Syrians Iacilitated the export oI iihadists into Iraq. The Syrians are
allied to Hezbollah. which is the nemesis oI the US-Israeli alliance. Syria has maintained oIIices oI Hamas in Syria.
For all these reasons the Bush administration has chosen not to engage with the Syrians. who moreover are accused
oI a whole bunch oI alleged mischieI in Lebanon. Whether true or not is beside the point. The point is I think the
Bush administration and the administration in Damascus have reached a point oI no return.
Fares Braizat: Actually I am not sure whether the Syrians and the Israelis. despite their declared positions that they
want to reach a peace treaty. are prepared to do so. The other Iactor is the United States. I do not think the United
States is prepared to support. especially under this administration. a peace deal between Israel and Syria given the
regional pact that Syria is involved in. It is not possible that the Syrians would all oI a sudden de-link themselves
Irom the Iranian alliance and sign a peace treaty with Israel in which they would sacriIice their relationship with
Hezbollah. which is a very strong strategic arm vis-a-vis Israel. and also the amount oI inIluence they can exercise
and exert on Hamas.
Murhaf 1ouejati: I would like to respectIully dissent Irom that view. I would Syria would give up Hezbollah. I
think Syria would give up Iran. I think Syria would give up Hamas iI it could recover the Golan Heights. Syria is
not going to blow the chance oI recovering the Golan Heights Ior the sake oI its alliance with Hezbollah. I think the
reverse is true. This is realpolitik. This is nothing new. The Syrians have played it very well. First and Ioremost is
the recovery oI the Golan.
There is a hypothesis that says the Asad regime is really not interested in getting the Golan because it has an interest
in perpetuating the Arab-Israeli conIlict in order to divert domestic attention Irom troubles at home and so on. I have
a rival hypothesis. which is that iI Bashar Asad is able to regain the Golan Heights his legitimacy is going to go
through the rooI.
Fares Braizat: When I said that. I said under this administration. Maybe iI the circumstances change in DC then
what you said could be correct.
Trita Parsi: I have a question in regard to Ahmadineiad`s wrongly translated statement about wiping Israel oII the
map. Is this seen as mere bluster by the panelists as well as the governments in the region? What are the motivations
Ior Iranians to use this type oI rhetoric against Israel? Is it at some point seen to be perhaps directed against some oI
the pro-American governments in the region as well?
Fares Braizat: Public opinion in the region there were several polls conducted in the region asking about the
perceived security threat. People in the region do not see Iran as the threatening state; they see Israel and the United
States as constituting a maior threat to security. That view diIIers Irom the governments` views. I think there is
discrepancy here.
Why Iran uses that rhetoric there are many reasons. One good reason is that the Palestinian issue makes the news
and also mobilizes public opinion. Whenever anyone talks about the Palestinians. whether it is Saddam Hussein. it
mobilizes Arab public opinion or the overwhelming maiority oI Arab public opinion behind him. When
Ahmadineiad uses that rhetoric. also he mobilizes Arab and Muslim public opinion behind him. He is targeting the
iniustice and that appeals to the public and re-legitimizes the discourse that is coming Irom a regime that otherwise
would be illegitimate compared to the amount oI economic deliveries that it delivers to its population.
Murhaf 1ouejati: I second that. Based on the assumption and I do not know whether that assumption is right or
wrong. but based on the assumption oI Iran having regional hegemonic ambitions. I view this rhetoric more as you
said. Dr. Braizat to mobilize Arab public opinion more than anything else. The real threat oI statements like these
are not so much to Israel as much as they are to Arab regimes.
Trita Parsi: Dr. Braizat. is that part oI the reason why Jordan does see Iran as a great challenge in the region. in the
sense that the Iranians have at various times. particularly in the early 1980s. tried to use Arab public opinion against
the Arab governments that tend to be pro-American? And is this more important than the Sunni-Shi`ite divide?
Fares Braizat: I think the Shi`ite-Sunni divide. as it appears today. is a newly Iormed phenomenon. When we talk
about the politicized Shi`ite-Sunni divide we are talking about a new phenomenon that Iollowed the invasion oI Iraq.
The maior reason behind this is the Iollowing. When the US got into Iraq they recognized religious sectarian
identities as political identities and dealt with them as such. By doing this they legitimized something otherwise as
illegitimate in the eyes oI the Iraqi public. ThereIore once that was institutionalized it got the legitimacy and the
support oI the public as the only possible channel oI communications that people can Iollow in order to place
demands on their government and on the occupation Iorces.
To what extent that is going to survive I do not think it is going to survive Ior long. Today we talked a lot about
this. in Lebanon and the GulI states in particular we did not really hear about Shi`a minorities in the GulI states in
the sense that we hear about that issue today. That was not an issue debated on TV screens and at conIerences and
seminars. That was some internal issue in these governments. I agree that as long as Arab governments do not
address these grievances in their societies and as long as the concept and the principle oI citizenship is not applied;
as long as democratic reIorms are Iar away. this pretext will be there Iorever. Any Iorce that would choose to
destabilize the region would use that as a starting point. Arab governments will have to build an internal deIense
mechanism that will deal with the Shi`ite minorities in these countries as citizens in these countries.
The second point about this is that there is a very important diIIerence between a political minority and a sectarian
or ethnic minority. We can talk about this when we have democratic governments but as long as we do not have
democratic governments the legitimacy oI the Sunni-Shi`ite or Arab-Kurd will remain an idea that would gain
support and legitimacy. The only way to oIIset this is to establish equality beIore the law and the concept oI
citizenship in which Shi`a and Sunni and Muslim and Christian and Kurd and Arab will disappear as political
identities.
Trita Parsi: An audience member has been kind enough to address a question to me with regard to Israel and Iran.
What would be the eIIect on Iran-Israel relations iI a peace agreement between Israel and Syria is reached? BeIore I
address that issue let me also iust second some oI the things that were mentioned here with regard to why the
Iranians are using this heightened rhetoric against Israel. I deal with it extensively in my book 'Treacherous
Alliance.¨ It is truly one oI the vehicles that the Iranian state Ior a long time. even actually beIore the revolution
occasionally. were using in order to be able to bridge the gaps between the Arabs and the Iranians. What is
interesting with the statement about the Holocaust is that Ahmadineiad basically crossed one oI the Iranian
government`s own red lines. The Iranians have been using very excessive rhetoric against Israel Ior quite some time
but they never really touched the Holocaust beIore. That was an attempt by the more radical elements in Iran to be
able to make it as diIIicult as possible Ior the more moderate elements to be able to have a more pragmatic approach
toward Israel in case oI an arrangement between the United States and Iran were to be Iound.
As to the eIIect that a Syrian-Israeli deal would have on the Iranians. I think it would be quite a strong blow to Iran`s
standing in the region iI such an agreement were to be Iound prior to the United States and Iran being able to Iind
some sort oI accommodation. That clearly seems to be the obiective oI some oI those pushing Ior that. hoping to be
able to use that to isolate Iran. However. iI this were to be addressed in addition to an Iranian-American agreement
as well as a larger regional solution. I do not think the Iranians are going to be more Syrian than the Syrians. I do not
think the Iranians are going to sacriIice some oI their own core interests Ior the sake oI being able to retain the
current balance. Rather. I think iust as much as in Syria there would be a great asset to be able to say that you won
Golan. the Iranians are looking to see who in Iran can be able to beIriend the Americans Irom a position oI strength.
In order to do so they are willing to sacriIice many oI the other assets that they otherwise have been using.
The next question is in regards to what is taking place in Iraq right now and the Iranian involvement. What is your
assessment oI the likelihood oI the Iranians overplaying their hand in Iraq and as a result sparking Iraqi nationalism
as a Iorce against Iran?
Fares Braizat: II the Iranians overplay their hand in Iraq. what would happen? I think Iraqi nationalism was largely
established beIore the invasion. Since the independence oI Iraq. the Iraqis Ielt their national identity. Now given the
circumstances and the rule oI Saddam Hussein and what happened at the end oI that rule discrimination against the
Kurds and also massacres against the Kurds these shed some light or at least made the legitimacy oI Iraqi
nationalism brought it into question.
One has to look at to what extent Iran has an inIluence within Iraq. There are certain Shi`a elements that pledge
allegiance to Iran. They have grown in Iran. The Al-Hakim movement Ior example and the Badr Brigades were
trained in Iran. There are some other Iactions that would be loyal to Iran politically and strategically. But I think the
maiority oI Iraqis would not be as such. Hezb-e-Dawa is also close to Iran but that does not mean it will remain at
all in the Iranian hands.
To what extent that would enhance Iraqi national identity. I think that depends on two Iactors. First. the success oI
the political process. II a political process becomes a truly democratic one and more national reconciliation takes
place then one would think oI Iraqi nationalism strengthening not as a response to Iranian intervention as much as it
is to internal processes that make it an accessory step and an accessory demand Ior Iraqi politicians as much as it is
Ior Iraqi citizens. One step we saw in that regard is the revisiting oI the de-BaathiIication policy. and the parliament
oI Iraq passed legislation iust a couple weeks ago allowing Iormer Baathists to get employment in government iobs.
That is the beginning oI a new Iraqi nationalism based on diIIerent principles than the old one. which was based on
Arab nationalism.
1udith Harik: I would like to introduce the notion oI a Iuture Iraq being put back together again somehow. perhaps
through the alliance oI Syria and Iran. I am one that thinks that those are the powers that live next to Iraq. They are
both strong. The Syrians can inIluence the Sunnis in the north. as they have been doing. I realize this is a rather
simplistic Iramework but maybe it is worth thinking about. The Iranians could probably bring important sectors oI
the Shi`ite community to agree with that. Someone is going to have to put a government together there and I think
that government is going to have to be acceptable somehow or another down the line to both Syria and Iran. iI the
country is going to be stable. It does not mean that the government would be a puppet but I think there has to be a lot
more inIluence oI those two in the making oI a national government. iI you can imagine that.
Trita Parsi: On that note. we have a question questioning why so many oI the questions are about the speciIic
relations oI the United States and another one in this triangle and how that would aIIect the rest oI the region. The
question is: why isn`t there a greater interest in a more region-wide type oI solution in which numerous countries. iI
not all the countries in the region. would be brought in along the lines oI what was recommended by the Baker-
Hamilton report? What is the readiness Ior that in the region? Would that require too big oI a paradigm shiIt to even
be considered viable?
Fares Braizat: We have a very serious problem: the recognition oI Israel in the region. Two countries only have
peace treaties. Jordan and Egypt. with Israel. II we are talking about a region-wide security arrangement we need to
bring the GulI states. Lebanon. Syria and other Arab countries. That would extend perhaps to Yemen and Sudan.
These countries do not have peace treaties with Israel and there is also signiIicant segment oI public opinion in the
region that does not wish to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. So the core problem in my view has to do with
solving the Arab-Israeli conIlict. As long as that conIlict is there we will continue to suIIer because oI that conIlict
and other Iactors that relate to that conIlict.
One quick piece oI evidence on this. An overwhelming maiority oI Arabs in Morocco. Algeria. Jordan. Palestine.
Lebanon. Yemen and Kuwait polled recently in the Arab Barometer Proiect do not accept to recognize Israel as a
Jewish state. Maybe iI Israel accepts to give up its occupation oI the 1967 land and then addresses the issue oI
reIugees and other issues. which was presented in the Arab peace initiative adopted Iirst in Beirut in 2002 and
reconIirmed in 2007 at the Riyadh Summit that we provide Israel with mutual security guarantees iI it accepts 123
and the Israelis reiected certain elements. especially the reIugee question and the return to the 1967 borders.
ThereIore that is a maior obstacle Ior any regional arrangement.
Second. the balance that the United States and other powers in the region will have to strike. You have on the one
hand a very ambitious Iran which also does not acknowledge Israel and has a problem with Israel. and on the other
hand you have Israel which is also a very ambitious power that seeks domination. So iI you bring these two
countries together in one security arrangement that would be a great achievement. I guess the one who would
manage that would deserve a Nobel Peace Prize.
Murhaf 1ouejati: I agree. there is no alternative. There is no bypassing the Arab-Israeli conIlict. This is the core oI
the issues. It is not the only one certainly. II there were peace between Israel and the Arabs not all the problems oI
the Middle East would be solved. but certainly it is the core issue. ThereIore the Arab plan has to be taken more
seriously and relevant land-Ior-peace resolutions have to be implemented. There is no other power that can arbitrate
this but the United States. The alternative is truly very scary. The alternative is a US that wants to perpetuate the Pax
Americana. the status quo in the Middle East. and its allies against an Iran that has regional ambitions and its allies.
II we continue on this path. truly it has very dangerous overtones. So there is no alternative to an Arab-Israeli peace
that will not only deIuse the tensions but will bring states together in the Iuture.
1udith Harik: I agree entirely.
Trita Parsi: A question Ior you. ProIessor Harik. There is a lot oI speculation. a lot oI numbers thrown around about
exactly how much military aid Hezbollah is receiving Irom Iran. These are coming Irom sources on both sides that
have their own political motivations to either reduce those numbers or increase them. Do we have any reliable
statistic on exactly what the extent oI that military support is. when and how it has varied. and what the root causes
Ior that variation has been?
1udith Harik: I cannot answer that question because were I to go poking around in this particular issue. I would
immediately end all my sources in Hezbollah. This is something an American woman is not going to investigate
very easily. So I cannot really say anything with teeth here.
The only thing I can say is that since the 2006 war I have picked up some inIormation and scuttlebutt that the
Syrians through their sources and the Russians. Ior example provided quite a bit oI the armaments that were
surprising in the 2006 war. I think this means that when the Hezbollah oIIicial told me that they could diversiIy their
sources. this is the kind oI thing they had in mind. I think we can imagine that the arms that Hezbollah had and
eIIectively used must be in Syria ten times over. because oI Syria`s problems and also because oI its alliance with
Iran. But I do not have any other speciIics.
Trita Parsi: Dr. Braizat. your comment about Iranian support Ior Al Qaeda has generated a tremendous amount oI
interest. One oI the questions in regard to that comment is that iI it is true that the Iranians are supporting not iust
Sunni militias. not iust Shi`ite militias but actually elements oI Al Qaeda in Iraq. why has that not been used much
more extensively by the Bush administration? Is the Bush administration going soIt on Iran?
Fares Braizat: Very interesting question. The phrasing oI the question is very interesting. What I said about that is
linked to data that I have got Irom interviews in Amman with some Iraqis who came to Amman. One particular
member who gave me that inIormation is a leading Iigure in one oI the Mailis Al-Sahwa. the Awakening Councils.
The Bush administration has always been using that they are supporting insurgents. Sometimes they deIined the
insurgents that they thought the Iranians were supporting. other times they did not deIine them. This particular
example that I am talking about does not surprise me. Looking at Iraq. what is going on in Iraq and what is the
Iranian strategic obiective in Iraq. it does not surprise me at all. The Iranians want to drag the Americans into a war
oI attrition that they are not necessarily paying a price Ior while the Americans are paying an extremely high price
Ior it. I think there are many parties in the region who would like to see the Americans drawn into a war oI attrition
and the Iranians also involved in that eIIort. So there are parties who would like to see the Iranians and Americans in
an entrenched war. indirect perhaps. It does not surprise me at all.
Given also the American rhetoric against Iran. it is enough oI a provocation Ior some elements especially when we
read recent reports in the media about how many people were arrested in Iraq. and you may remember the cell that
was arrested in northern Iraq that was labeled as working Ior the Revolutionary Guards` Al-Qods Forces in Iraq.
This is inIormation that is available. The use oI how Irequent or how intensive the US administration uses this
against the Iranians it is their choice.
Trita Parsi: Last question. We have had this debate Ior a long time in Washington. that we basically viewed the
Iranian nuclear issue Irom a binary perspective. Either the Iranians will go nuclear. with a nuclear weapon and
everything else in that package. or the United States would engage in some sort oI military conIrontation with Iran
either bomb them or acquiesce to the Iranian bomb. Let`s say that one oI those scenarios. that Iran would gain not
only knowledge oI a nuclear weapon but actually would produce it. how would that change the calculus oI the
various entities in the Middle East? Particularly the Syrians. the Jordanians and Hezbollah how would that change
the equation?
1udith Harik: Owning nuclear weapons and using them. thank god. are two diIIerent things Ior most countries. I
cannot see how it would aIIect the Hezbollah-Iranian relationship. I am not going to speak Ior Syria but I do not see
how that would aIIect that relationship.
Murhaf 1ouejati: It is a very good question and a very complex issue. I think Ior Syria on the one hand it would
strengthen it in terms oI deterrence vis-a-vis Israel certainly. The Syrians would probably welcome something like
this. On the other hand it could leave the Syrians out in the cold in terms oI the Arab orbit. That would be a very
strange position Ior Syria to be in. This is not the Iirst time that Syria. which again perceives itselI as the champion
oI Arabs and Arab rights. that it is at odds with Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Arab order. But Syria always swung
back as a result oI the Iear oI sanctions Irom not conIorming to Arabist expectations. So while on the one hand it is
strengthened vis-a-vis Israel. I think on the other hand the basis oI the legitimacy oI the regime in terms oI pan-Arab
nationalism would be tremendously weakened iI the Syrian-Iranian alliance were to take Syria deIinitely out oI the
Arab orbit.
Fares Braizat: Four maior consequences oI a nuclear Iran. One. it emboldens Iran and its allies and that would
result in increasing inIluence and demands placed on states that are not in that coalition. It will increase American
involvement in the region as an umbrella power to protect non-nuclear states or allying states. like the GulI states
and others. But the important question is: does Iran or will Iran have delivery systems Ior such weapons? So Iar we
do not see any evidence that the Iranians have been able to produce or manuIacture delivery systems oI such
weapons. The other issue is nuclear weapons are there are deterrents. So Iar the Iranians are talking about the
peaceIul nuclear program to generate electricity. Everyone else does not believe their intentions but we cannot iudge
people`s intentions simply. We can accuse and we can accept explanations but we deIinitely cannot say their
intention is to build a nuclear bomb.
The other issue is it is initiating a nuclear race in the region. Seven Arab states have already started their nuclear
programs UAE. Egypt. Tunisia. Jordan. etc. Ior peaceIul means to generate electricity. Would that be a welcome
opportunity? I do not think so. I do not think it is something the US would like to see.
Trita Parsi: Thank you so much. On that note. please ioin me in thanking the panelists Ior an excellent discussion.
Speaker Details:
Fares Braizat is Director and Senior Researcher oI University oI Jordan's Centre Ior Strategic Studies
MurhaI Joueiati is MEI Adiunct Scholar and an Adiunct ProIessor at the National DeIense University
Judith P. Harik is President oI Matn University. Beirut and leading expert on Hezbollah
Trita Parsi is President oI the National Iranian American Council (NIAC
Introduction:
David Mack: Now we come to the really controversial part. What controversy can you have about the nature oI
decision-making policy in Iran or Damascus or Riyadh? But certainly iI you are talking about the decision-making
policy vis-a-vis Iran in Washington. as most oI you are aware it has been a huge subiect oI controversy. It has even
been a subiect oI controversy in debates involving candidates Ior the presidency oI the United States. We decided
we would recruit Iour real bomb-throwers and people who are not strangers to controversy Ior this panel. One oI
them. Seymour Hersh. reported a Iew hours ago that he was so deathly ill that he could not appear today. Sy has
many enemies in Washington so one can only speculate. But be reassured that we have three remaining panelists
who have great analytical skills. have worked on the subiect oI Iran Ior a good part oI their adult lives. and they all
three have very strong opinions. None oI them has shied away Irom controversy. On occasion each oI them has been
considered provocative.
We are going to start with Ray Takeyh. He will be Iollowed by Patrick Clawson with Hillary Mann Leverett as our
third speaker on this panel. Then we will have time Ior questions.
Patrick Clawson is the Washington Institute Ior Near East Policy`s deputy director Ior research. I met Patrick when
both oI us were on the Iaculty or in various capacities at the National DeIense University. I even recruited him to
address a class I was teaching at that time.
Ray Takeyh oI the Council on Foreign Relations has had halI a dozen or so important positions with think tanks and
universities. He is now Iocusing on Iran and that has been a liIelong interest oI his. Ior reasons going back to his
own heritage. He is Iocusing on Iran. GulI security and US Ioreign policy.
Hillary Mann Leverett is a Iormer colleague oI mine as an FSO. a Iormer oIIicial at both the State Department and
NSC staII although at least a generation aIter me. She is a lawyer. an Arabist and an expert on political risk. Ior
which she now works as a consultant.
Ray Takeyh: Thanks Ior inviting me. I see a number oI people in the audience that I know so this talk they may
have heard already I only have one act. Unless you go on the road. iI you stay in the same city. you have a
tendency oI being repetitious. Flynt back there it is probably the third time this week he is hearing this act. I will
try to mix it up Ior you a little bit.
I was asked to assess US policy toward Iran and maybe even oIIer some suggestions. There are as we speak two
types oI American Ioreign policy toward Iran. One takes place outside the region and one takes place within the
region. You can draw your own conclusions about which is more eIIective because neither oI them seem to have
produced the desired result as Iar as the United States is concerned.
Outside the region. in terms oI the US approach toward the international community and its approach toward Iran.
the most direct and visible maniIestations oI that have been a series oI Security Council resolutions. I think two have
already been enacted and there is a possibility oI a third. II you look at the individual Security Council resolutions
they are not particularly robust and they are not particularly coercive. They do not have much teeth in them.
Nevertheless the purpose oI those Security Council resolutions has not been to necessarily impose inordinate
economic pressures on Iran but to allow Ior an impression oI international solidarity against various Iranian
inIractions. in this particular case in the nuclear issue. So in that sense they do have some degree oI eIIectiveness
because they are the products oI however you want to say it 5 ¹ 1 or. as the Germans like to say it. 3 ¹ 3. the
three European states and the three other members oI the Security Council. the United States. Russia and China.
The idea is once you have that overarching sanctions policy and overarching resolutions and rebukes through the
United Nations. then within that you have the legal authority or at least the moral authority to pressure countries to
enact a series oI other. more binding resolutions in a sort oI coalition oI the willing arrangement. We have seen that
in terms oI the administration`s attempts to get various international lending organizations and banks and so Iorth to
stop servicing Iranian loans. That speciIic aspect oI those sanctions are more important and arguably more
signiIicant.
I realize there is a GAO report that has suggested that those inIormal sanctions have not been eIIective. I always say
it is very diIIicult to quantiIy the cost oI sanctions. It does seem to me that those sanctions would probably have
some eIIect. They certainly have raised the price oI Iranian commerce. I have not read the GAO report so I am not
capable oI taking issue with it. The economics and mathematics oI sanctions largely elude me but it seems to me
reasonable to suggest that those particular sanctions have had some eIIect. Whether or not those sanctions are
contingent on passage oI Iurther UN Security Council resolutions is hard to tell. But that eIIort has had some
successes in terms oI imposing costs on Iran.
Along with those particular sanctions is an American oIIer oI negotiations with Iran. should it suspend the uranium
component oI its nuclear program. That oIIer oI negotiations has been broadened over time. In May 2006 when it
was announced it was largely conIined to the nuclear issue but right now the United States is seemingly prepared to
discuss all issues oI concern with Iran should it suspend its enrichment activities. Even at the Davos conIerence
Secretary Rice suggested normalization oI relations potentially could be the byproduct oI those negotiations.
Obviously the precondition has not been IulIilled and thereIore those negotiations have not taken place.
So what is the critique oI the sanctions policy? There are three that I can think oI.
First. ostensibly the purpose oI the sanctions as applied to Iran was that it would divide the Iranian elite. Once the
cost oI Iranian misbehavior became obvious then in this multi-Iactional political order there would be deIections
Irom the oIIicial government line and pressure. and thereIore the Iranian government would change its policies. In
essence one oI the purposes oI the sanctions policy and perhaps the primary purpose oI the sanctions policy was that
it would provoke divisions within the state and within the body politic.
I would suggest that has not happened. On core security issues today there is a widespread consensus within the
Iranian body politic. whether on continuation oI the nuclear issue or proiection oI power in the GulI or on
intervention in Iraq. Outside the reIorm movement or outside elements oI the reIorm movement. I am not quite sure
there is anyone within the Iranian system that is prepared to acquiesce to the nuclear demands oI the international
community. The reIorm movement tends to look at the nuclear issue through the prism oI Iranian domestic politics.
the idea being that the longer Iran becomes subiect to international sanctions. the more it becomes isolated. it
provokes a security environment within Iran itselI that makes democratic reIorms and the empowerment oI civil
society implausible. For them as they look at the nuclear issue. it is more to do with how it aIIects the domestic
political scene in Iran as opposed to how it aIIects the nuclear program. II there is a reIormist government I suspect
it would reevaluate their approach toward the sanctions but even within the reIorm movement you are talking about
the leIt wing oI that leIt-wing coalition.
In essence. in terms oI its approach toward the elite. I would suggest it has uniIied as opposed to divided the elite
irrespective oI criticism that you hear oI President Ahmadineiad. which has oIten been misconstrued and
misrepresented as criticism oI the country`s nuclear strategy. It is a criticism oI the country`s presentation oI its
Ioreign policy. It is also criticism oI his style in terms oI dealing with the domestic constituency. It has to do with his
arrogance and so Iorth. not necessarily with his commitment to the nuclear program as such.
The other critique I would have oI the sanctions policy is something that has come up recently. In my opinion the
idea oI sanctions and negotiation is incompatible. It is contradictory. First oI all. sanctions do create legal and
practical legislative barriers to eIIorts oI engagement. I always thought why American administrations that
contemplate economic concessions on Iran do such Mickey Mouse stuII pistachios. airplane parts. Well. because
they cannot do the big stuII because there has been such accumulation oI the sanctions policy that it is very diIIicult
to make a signiIicant gesture towards Iran. So the more these institutions become sanctions. whether it is the banks.
whether you are declaring the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization. it makes the idea oI negotiations more
diIIicult because it limits the room and leverage that you have in terms oI actually being able to oIIer signiIicant
concessions. You can still do that but the accumulated weight oI sanctions over the years lessens the possibility oI
being able to make economic concessions. When you declare Bank Saderat a proliIerator and a terrorist supporter.
you are actually saying that bank is Al Qaeda. Then iI you want to have some sort oI economic outreach with Iran
where Iranian loans have to be serviced. to that extent it makes that possibility more limited.
The other criticism oI the sanctions that I would make is on moral grounds. Here I would diIIerentiate. There are
some people who suggest that 'I am not Ior military Iorce. I am Ior sanctions.¨ Sanctions at their very core are a
blunt instrument. They aIIect everyday people. The essential thesis oI the sanctions policy is by having pressure on
the population you can get that population to put pressure on the regime and thereIore Ior the regime to change its
course oI action. So it is a blunt policy that tends to impact everyday human beings. You can put the word
'selective¨ or 'smart¨ in Iront oI sanctions but that does not mean you can calibrate the cost oI sanctions.
One oI the things that many in the United States applaud themselves is they have helped stimulate inIlation inside
Iran. They say one oI the reasons why there is a greater degree oI price increases in Iran today is because oI the
sanctions policies that have been enacted lately. Everyday human beings suIIer as a result oI that inIlationary
pressure.
So there is no moral high ground being appropriated by being Ior sanctions and not Ior use oI arms. That is the other
aspect oI it.
So that is the essential American policy outside the region. There is a policy inside the region and that was rather
apparent when the president recently went to the Middle East. The idea. which is not particularly original. novel or
imaginative. is to ally with the status quo Sunni states to contain Iran. That has been the US policy ostensibly since
1979: containment oI Iran.
Nevertheless in the current geography oI the Middle East there are those who perceive opportunities Ior containment
oI Iran that perhaps had not been existent beIore. as Iran becomes more empowered. as Iran becomes more nuclear-
capable perhaps that can provoke regional anxieties and then you can coalesce those regional anxieties into a wall
oI containment that would be a barrier to the Iranian proiection oI power. There are several things wrong with that
thesis and I will go through about Iour.
First. the notion oI Arab consensus on Iran does not exist. There is no consensus on Iran within the GulI. There has
never been a consensus on Iran within the GulI. During the Iran-Iraq war there were disagreements. Oman and UAE
had very good relationships with Iran throughout the war. So the idea that all the regional states share their anxiety
toward Iran in equal shares is not the case.
More importantly. that is not where the Middle East is today. There are certain anxieties and concerns about Iran`s
behavior. which is oIten impetuous and certainly provocative. but as the president Iound on his recent trip to the
Middle East. the region in large measure is trying to absorb and integrate Iran as a means oI dealing with the Iranian
danger. That had to do with the very signiIicant improvement oI relations between Iran and Egypt. the reception that
President Ahmadineiad has been given at the GCC and the various dialogues that have taken place between them. an
increase in some level oI commerce. Ironically. President Ahmadineiad may be the most successIul oI Iranian
presidents in terms oI his regional policy. It could very well be under his auspices that Iran and Egypt Iinally
normalize their relationship. something that eluded President Khatami despite the Iact that early in his term there
was an attempt to reach out to the Egyptians. Certainly he has been granted audiences and privileges in the GulI that
were unavailable to his predecessors who were pragmatic and moderate in many cases certainly more pragmatic
and moderate than he.
So there is a degree oI divergence between American perceptions and the GulI states` reactions. not to mention the
larger Middle East. As I said. that is what the president Iound when he went there. when he realized that anxieties
expressed in palaces do not always become public declarations outside those palaces and certainly do not result in
concerted actions against Iran.
The GulI states and indeed many oI the other Middle Eastern states are cautious and conservative. What they will
always try to do is balance their relationship with the United States and Iran. They will always try to have that sort
oI a balance. On the one hand they are never going to embrace Iranian demands Ior a regional security system Iree
oI external powers. which I should say has been an Iranian demand going back to the Shah`s time. but nor will they
ever embrace the totality oI American coercive policy against Iran. So the idea oI building the wall oI containment
using local states and in some cases with Israel and America implied as implicit partners is rather a stretch given the
temperament oI Middle Eastern states. particularly the GulI states.
Second. iI there is going to be conIlict or containment between the two states the United States. Iran and the Sunni
states that conIlict is going to play itselI out in Iraq. You cannot contain Iran and stabilize Iraq at the same time.
particularly at a time when General Petraeus seems to have his own Iran policy. He is negotiating with Iranians.
There is a lot oI talk about the level oI discussions. private and secretive. between the American presence in Iraq and
the Iranians secret meetings which I cannot attest to their viability or whether they happened between Foreign
Minister Mottaki and Ryan Crocker. But at any rate there is not a great deal oI appetite Ior a conIrontation with Iran
on the part oI multinational Iorces in Iraq. II there is going to be a conIrontation in the GulI. Iraq is not going to be
exempt Irom immunized Irom that particular conIlict. ThereIore a policy oI containment is likely to Iurther
undermine the Iraqi regime and stability in that country.
Fourth. during the time oI the Cold War containment oI the Soviet Union led to mobilization oI capitalism and
democracy. Today containment oI Iran and a rising Shi`a power will lead to mobilization oI Sunni militancy. That is
how Sunni states have always reacted to Shi`i resurgence. That is what happened in the 1980s when it was
revolutionary Iranian Islam versus Saudi Islam. You saw that even in the aItermath oI the 2006 Lebanese war when
SalaIiyya groups and so Iorth began to mobilize against Iran.
So one oI the things that could happen as a result oI so-called containment oI Iran is radicalization oI the region`s
political culture. The last time the region`s political culture became radicalized in the 1980s it ultimately yielded
unintended oIIspring Al Qaeda and the Taliban. The Middle East has always been divided against itselI and we
have always been participant in those divisions. but to participate in a sectarian conIlict will make the region`s
troubles even more immutable.
What is to be done? I would iust caution about the limits oI engagement to those who argue Ior engagement. At the
end oI the day I do not think the United States and Iran will go back to the 1970s. where they were two allies sharing
many oI the same impulses and in some cases the same values. I think the Iranian hardliners tend to obiect to the
United States not iust as a great power. not iust as a superpower. not iust as an antagonistic power. but as a cultural
phenomenon. They tend to be very averse to American cultural inIluence and the possibility oI cultural
contamination oI their country that will come through a broad-based normalization oI relations.
So those are some oI the limits oI it. Nevertheless within that there is a possibility oI shared interests that can be
aIIected through limited compacts here and there. whether it is stabilization oI Iraq. cooperation in AIghanistan.
having some kind oI regional security system Ior the GulI. There are things that the two countries can at this point
cooperate on and perhaps over time those cooperative linkages will result in a greater degree oI relationship between
the two countries that may even in some mythical Iuture lead to normalization. But it is going to be a very long and
diIIicult process.
Patrick Clawson: As David said in his introduction. the three oI us or at least me enioy controversy. I would
love to run through Ray`s seven points and explain why I disagree with each and every one oI them but I thought
that would be a poor use oI my time. What I would rather do is talk about the very poor choices that Iace us
regarding Iran. It is Iun to poke holes in. point out the problems with any given policy alternative that the United
States has regarding Iran because each and every one oI them stinks. They are all poor. The chances oI success oI
any one oI the policy options is limited. I would have to say as an analyst they are at best 50-50. Furthermore there
are grave risks that each one oI these entail.
Let me iust note to you that when we were having such disagreements with the Europeans in the early 1990s about
what to do about Iran. the two sides the United States and Europe were Iollowing dramatically diIIerent policy
options toward Iran. Neither oI us got very Iar with our policies. The Europeans were convinced that their critical
dialogue and their extending $40 billion in loans to the Iranians over the course oI the Iour years oI RaIsaniani`s Iirst
term would gain them much inIluence with Iran. In Iact we now know in retrospect that that was the time when Iran
was racing ahead with the clandestine nuclear program to which the Europeans now so violently obiect.
I would suggest that when you hear a speaker explaining why a particular policy option towards Iran is poor. I am
sure you will be convinced by what they have to say. That however is not prooI that that policy is inappropriate.
Until you have examined the Iull menu oI options you really cannot say that that poor choice is necessarily to be
ruled out because it is quite conceivable that iI you look at all oI them you will decide that all oI them are bad. and
that that Iirst one poor as it is may indeed be the best way to proceed.
In that context let me suggest that the Bush administration`s policy has probably played a weak hand about as well
as they could have. Let`s Iace it: the Bush administration has been rather preoccupied with other problems. Some
might even say bogged down in Iraq and AIghanistan Ior much oI the last Iew years. The Bush administration has
been weakened by the opinion oI the American public. much less oI the world. that its intelligence is not always
accurate and that its iudgment is not necessarily the best. Faced with that situation. the Bush administration`s
decision was to Iocus on unity oI the great powers in order to have a united stance to try to change the Iranians`
position.
In order to accomplish that the Bush administration has been prepared to make some rather dramatic changes in US
policy which it has not necessarily wanted to call people`s attention to. Let me remind you that Mr. Clinton spent
eight years bitterly opposing the construction oI a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. This was the subiect oI several
largely unsuccessIul summit meetings that he held with Russian President Yeltsin that Ioundered over precisely this
issue. Yet now it has become a mantra oI the Bush administration to accept Iran`s right to have nuclear power. This
is an example oI the Bush administration accepting something which was anathema to the Clinton administration.
As I say. I do not think the Bush administration particularly wishes to call people`s attention to the Iact that on
something which Mr. Clinton said was an unacceptable risk to American national security Bush has been prepared
to accept.
Also the Bush administration has not wanted to call attention. Ior reasons that rather mystiIy me. to the Iact that
Javier Solana. when he holds those discussions with Iran. is speaking on behalI oI the United States government as
much as he is speaking on the behalI oI any other government in the world. Solana is not there as the representative
oI the European 3. He is there as the representative oI the 3 ¹ 3 or the 5 ¹ 1. He is speaking Ior all six governments.
He speaks Ior the United States government as much as Ior the government oI any other country. The idea thereIore
that the United States is not involved in talks to the Iranians about nuclear matters is rather interesting in that many
people think that the Europeans are involved in talks with the Iranians about nuclear matters because Solana is
talking to them. Solana has no more authority to speak on behalI oI the British. French or German government than
he does to speak on behalI oI the American government. II thereIore the Europeans are involved in talks with the
Iranians about nuclear matters. so is the United States.
That has not been the only US approach by any means. The United States has also adopted complementary steps
taken on its own and in coniunction with the European Union in some cases. Indeed. as we heard Irom our
lunchtime speaker actually. let me back up. The United States has taken complementary measures in three realms:
economic. security and diplomatic.
As we heard Irom our lunch speaker the United States` Iinancial actions have been at least as eIIective in impacting
the Iranian economy as any multilateral sanctions. which is intriguing since many people including some people
present in this room inIormed us in 2005-06 that the United States was sanctioned out. There was not much more
the United States could do to apply pressure on Iran. That was wrong. In Iact the Iinancial sanctions that the United
States has taken. it has been quite successIul getting international support Ior. The United States has been able to get
the Financial Action Task Force to warn the world`s banks about transactions with Iran. You may not pay attention
but the world`s banks do. because FATF is the international body whose instructions to banks guide regulators in not
only its thirty-plus member countries but in many other countries around the world. There are Iew international
banks which are prepared to ignore FATF warnings. Indeed I would suggest that iI you take a look at the statements
oI the Chinese banks about this matter. they are quite diIIerent Irom the statements oI the Chinese government about
the matter. The banks realize the problems oI ignoring FATF actions.
By the way. the European Union has also taken some actions. Our diplomatic speaker at lunch did not point out to us
that it is the European Union which has gone Iurther than the United Nations required in Resolutions 1737 and 1747
to Ireeze the accounts and ban the travel oI a variety oI individuals and institutions not named by the United Nations.
The United States has not even acted against everybody listed in those resolutions. That is the economic Iront.
On the security Iront. in the last year and a halI $60 billion in arms sales have been announced to the states in the
region. There is an arms race going on. More arms have been sold to this region in the last year than were sold in the
eight years oI Khatami as president. and it is aimed at Iran. Iran is starting an arms race which it is going to lose
because it does not have the money and it does not have the powerIul Iriends to sell it those kind oI arms. We are
doing a very good iob oI showing Iran that its nuclear pursuit is hurting Iran`s security.
Plus even their good Iriends in Iraq are pointing out that it would be necessary in order to secure Iraq`s borders Ior
the United States to stay in a large presence in Iraq Ior another 8-12 years. It is border security that is going to
require that. The United States is vigorously negotiating agreements and establishing a presence throughout the
region. precisely what Iran does not want. Furthermore thanks to Iranian actions the French have established their
Iirst overseas base anywhere in the world outside oI their Iormer colonies or countries they have occupied. Just in
case you were wondering what that base is Ior. the Iirst exercise is coming up later this month. It is an exercise
involving French. Emirati and Qatari personnel and it 'involves a Iictitious island in the Strait oI Hormuz which
becomes hostile and attacks oil platIorms.¨ I wonder who that could be?
On the diplomatic Iront. that is an area where the Bush administration has not done very much. To be blunt. the
Bush administration does not do carrots. The Bush administration has been oI two minds about whether or not it is a
good idea to speak to bad people. I think we can assume that whoever is the next president oI the United States. that
person will want to show that they are quite diIIerent Irom George Bush. ThereIore we should anticipate that the
next president is going to want to engage Iran. possibly even beIore the Iranian presidential elections next spring.
The question is how do we do that in a way that reIlects US interests.
The last times that we tried to engage the Islamic Republic oI Iran were not a success. In 1979 National Security
Advisor Brzezinski met with the Iranian prime minister and Ioreign minister in Algiers. Three days later the
hostages were seized at the embassy by students who said they were concerned that this was plotting a coup against
the Islamic Republic. We tend to Iorget that relationship; it is well established in their writings about the matter. The
next maior initiative the United States has to engage Iran comes in 1984 when a Iormer national security advisor
Ilies to Tehran Ior high-level meetings there. You may recall this aIIair. otherwise known as the Iran-Contra AIIair.
Not necessarily a victory Ior American diplomacy. We have a series oI initiatives in the Clinton administration.
trying to take small initiatives and laying out a roadmap Ior better relations. I recommend Ken Pollack`s book on the
results oI this and how limited they were. Then we have the Bush administration talks with Iran in 2001-03. From
the perspective oI the Bush administration they would argue that this brought little advantage to the United States.
The basic problem we Iace is that there is a lack oI a common strategic interest. the kind oI interests that Ray
outlined. Things we have in common are relatively small and certainly nothing to compare with what brought China
and the United States together in the early 1970s. namely that all-important struggle Ior both oI them against the
Soviet Union. Plus there is tremendous suspicion on the two sides.
I would thereIore suggest that the prospects Ior success are quite limited. That will remain the case so long as the
strategic situation is so good Ior Iran. Our basic problem with our Iran policy is not that we do not know Iran. is not
that we have not had the right approach. The basic problem is that so long as the price oI oil is so high. we are
bogged down in Iraq and AIghanistan and iihadism seems to be doing so well in places as diverse as the Palestinian
territories and Lebanon. Iran is going to think that it is in a strong position and we are in a weak position. I happen to
think that Iundamentally Iran is weak and we are strong a very important point that Hooshang Amirahmadi made
about how Iran`s economy is slipping relative to that oI everybody else in the region. I think eventually that will
show up. I would suggest. as our lunchtime speaker put it. it will only show up at the last minute. That is the style oI
negotiations with the Iranians stalemate until breakthrough. We will not know that we are iust about to achieve an
agreement with the Iranians until the very last minute.
Hillary Mann Leverett: It is always nice to be the last speaker Irom a long day oI many speakers. so I hope I can
hold your attention. Wave Irantically iI I am not and I will throw this talk out.
I think the key starting point Ior any US policymaker in terms oI US policy on Iran would be this observation: Iran`s
geostrategic location at the crossroads oI the Middle East and Central Asia and in the heart oI the Persian GulI; its
enormous hydrocarbon resources; its inIluence and standing in key arenas and on important issues Ior the United
States; and its historic role make it a critical country Ior the United States. But too much oI today`s discourse about
what to do regarding Iran treats Iran instead as iI it were some badly behaved child. From that starting point some
argue that you need to coerce this immature polity to act more appropriately. Others argue that in essence you need
to caiole Iran into good behavior through various inducements to raise their selI-esteem.
But I think the starting point really needs to recognize that Iran is a strategically important country. that since the
death oI Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 has been increasingly prepared to think about and act on its Ioreign policy in
terms oI national interest. It is in our national security interest to try to get Iran. even with its Ilawed government. to
work with us wherever and whenever possible instead oI against us. That should be our guiding principle. It is in our
national security interest to have Iran as integrated into the global political. legal and economic system because they
see it in their interest to do so. not because they have been bludgeoned to get there.
The only way we can achieve this is by entering into unconditional. comprehensive talks with the Iranians with the
goal being to resolve our diIIerences. normalize our bilateral relationship as well as Iran`s role in the region. A
mutually beneIicial US-Iran relationship. even with an Iran that does not agree with all US positions. should not be
seen as a potential reward Ior Iran`s good behavior. A mutually beneIicial relationship is in America`s strategic
interest per se on its own. on the merits.
I have come to this view oI Iran through the prism oI my own experience. I negotiated with the Iranians Ior the US
government with Ryan Crocker Ior over a year and a halI. Irom 2001 to 2003. over AIghanistan. Al Qaeda and
eventually Iraq. When I dealt with my Iranian counterparts they were straightIorward and constructive. They did not
do everything we wanted but they did do much oI what we needed them to do. They provided substantial support Ior
US obiectives on AIghanistan and Al Qaeda aIter 9/11 and they wanted to play a similar role with us in Iraq.
My experience negotiating with Iranians over AIghanistan and Al Qaeda leads to a bigger argument. It is certainly
the case that since the advent oI the Islamic Republic in 1979 Iran has worked against US interests on a number oI
Ironts. As a result every US administration since 1979 has sought to sanction. isolate and contain Iran. Yet Iran`s
undeniable importance in the Middle Eastern balance oI power and in many areas oI critical interest to the US has
prompted every US administration the Reagan. George H.W. Bush. Clinton and this George Bush administration
to explore some kind oI opening to Iran either through tactical cooperation or by testing the waters publicly.
Iran`s tactical cooperation with every US administration since 1980 was Iundamentally positive in character. The
Iran-Contra scandal was not Iran`s Iault that was something that the US did to cease the talks with Iran. The
discussions during the George H.W. Bush administration over Lebanon were cut short by that administration. The
tactical cooperation between the Clinton administration and Iran getting weapons to the Muslims in Bosnia was
something that was cut short by the United States. The tactical cooperation that we had with AIghanistan during the
George Bush administration that I participated in was cut oII by the United States. not Iran.
From my direct experience and others who worked in those engagements I saw Iirsthand that Iran could deliver
much not all but much oI what we needed. UnIortunately this two-track approach to dealing with Iran through
sanctions and pressure on one hand and tactical engagement on the other hand has time and again Iailed to achieve
any sustained improvement in US-Iranian relations. Over the years my Iranian counterparts told me they
consistently anticipated that their tactical cooperation with the US would lead to a genuine strategic opening
between our two countries. In most cases however the tactical cooperation Iell apart not because the Iranians did not
deliver. not because there were no authoritative or pragmatic Iranians to deal with. but because the US broke oII
each oI these talks due to concerns about US domestic politics or because a terrorist attack or arms shipment might
have been linked to someone in Iran despite oIIicial Iranian denials.
In this context the increased imposition oI sanctions over time against Iran by the US has only reinIorced Iranian
perceptions that the US is not interested in living with the Islamic Republic. Although tactical cooperation has
repeatedly provided short-term beneIits to the US. the repeated US cutting oII oI these talks has shattered
conIidence. led to harder-line decisions and policies in both the US and Iran. and worsened the overall relationship.
Without a strategic understanding oI where the US and Iran want to go. a kind oI Iinal-status arrangement akin to
what the Israelis and Palestinians have been trying to do. there will always be a terrorist attack or an arms shipment
or a nasty statement that can always be used to cut oII whatever tactical talks we are able to establish with Iran. be
they over Iraq or over the nuclear issue. or to impose even more sanctions on Iran.
A strategic understanding means that Washington would have to address Tehran`s core concerns. You rarely hear
that in Washington. This would require the US to be willing as part oI an overall settlement to extend a security
guarantee to Iran. EIIectively this would mean an American commitment not to use Iorce to change the borders or
Iorm a government oI the Islamic Republic; to recognize the Islamic Republic; to acknowledge Iran`s role in the
region; and to bolster such a contingent commitment with the prospect oI liIting US unilateral sanctions and
normalizing bilateral relations. This is something that no American administration has ever oIIered and that the Bush
administration explicitly reiected. In Iact the Bush administration insisted that all signiIicant reIerences to security
assurances be deleted Irom the EU incentives package that we agreed to ioin in 2006 iI Iran again suspended its
enrichment.
In that regard the Bush administration also broke with past administrations and reIused to reaIIirm America`s
commitment to the Algiers Accord. the 1981 agreement by the US not to interIere in Iran`s internal aIIairs. In the
shadow oI our Iraq regime change policy. even the most pragmatic and pro-Western Iranian oIIicials have seen this
and other activities by the administration as indicative oI a US regime change strategy targeted at them.
But no American administration has ever been able to provide a security guarantee to the Islamic Republic because
oI legitimate. real US concerns about Iran`s suspicious nuclear developments and regional role in support oI terrorist
organizations. How could any administration provide a security guarantee to terrorists? It would not make sense.
But this Catch-22 how can we address Iran`s security concerns when they themselves are seen by us as a security
threat? ignores the basic Ieature oI post Ayatollah Khomeini. post-1989 Iran: that Iran pursues a strategy oI
asymmetric warIare in large part Ior what it sees as a deIensive means Ior regime survival. Whether we like their
regime or not. Irom 1989 on a lot oI this has been Iocused on regime survival. We may not like it or agree with their
assessment or choices but at its core that makes this a diplomatically resolvable problem.
So how can we untie this Gordian knot? The Iranians proposed a way Iorward in May 2003 in the Iorm oI a
roadmap Ior resolving US-Iranian diIIerences. The key to the roadmap or a grand bargain approach is in putting all
the key issues on the table at the same time and agreeing to resolve them as a package again. akin to a Iinal-status
arrangement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Each item sanctions. dealing with terrorist groups. the nuclear
program iI treated on its own would essentially require one party to surrender on a very diIIicult issue Ior them and
hope that the other party at some point would Iind it in their hearts to make good on a separate issue. One oI the
Iranians that I negotiated with said Iran tried this Iutile approach with the Bush 41 administration over Lebanon and
recalled President Bush stating. 'Goodwill will beget goodwill.¨ But as this negotiator bemoaned. Iran learned the
hard way that the United States does not work that way.
Implementing the reciprocal commitments entailed in a US-Iranian grand bargain would almost certainly play out
over time and perhaps a long time. and in phases. But the key is that all the commitments would be agreed upIront
as a package so that both sides would know what they were getting. It would start with the deIinition oI a strategic
Iramework Ior improving relations between the US and the Islamic Republic. In eIIect. an analogue to the Shanghai
communique that conditioned the strategic rapprochement between the US and China in the 1970s. Patrick reIerred
to this as well but I stress that this happened in the 1970s between the US and China; the relationship between the
US and China today is not perIect but iI we had not reached the strategic rapprochement with China in the 1970s.
iust think where we could be with the world`s number-one rising economic power.
To meet both sides` strategic needs in a genuinely comprehensive manner. a Iramework structuring a US-Iranian
grand bargain must address at least three sets oI issues. First. Iran`s security interests. perceived threats and place in
the regional order. Second you could also put the US Iirst and Iran second; I`ll put the US second. Second. US
security interests. including stopping what we see as Iran`s pursuit oI weapons oI mass destruction and its support
Ior terrorism. Third. the development oI a cooperative approach to regional security. First I will outline what Iran
would need Irom the United States and then I will outline what we would need Irom Iran.
From an Iranian perspective. one oI the essential Ioundations Ior a US-Iran grand bargain is the US attitude toward
the Islamic Republic. For a grand bargain to be possible the US should clariIy that it is not seeking a change in the
nature oI the Iranian regime but rather changes in Iranian behavior and policies. Secretary Rice`s late in the game
statements to this eIIect were undermined in the view oI many Iranians by President Bush`s pointed and explicit
reIusal to endorse her statements. Literally the day aIter she made the Iirst statement he was on 'Charlie Rose¨ and
he explicitly and pointedly reIused to endorse her statements. The Iranians have been through this beIore. in the Iirst
term oI the Bush administration. when Secretary Powell and Deputy Secretary Armitage would make one set oI
statements and then Secretary RumsIeld. Vice President Cheney and the president himselI would make a diIIerent
set oI statements.
I will go through the Iive key points that Iran would need Irom the United States. They would need these assurances.
First. as part oI a strategic understanding addressing all issues oI concern to both sides. the United States would
commit not to use Iorce to change the borders or Iorm a government oI the Islamic Republic.
Second. assuming that our concerns about Iran`s nuclear program and opposition to a negotiated settlement to the
Arab-Israeli conIlict were addressed satisIactorily and that Iran stopped providing military equipment and training to
terrorist groups. the US would commit to ending unilateral sanctions against Iran imposed by executive order;
reestablish diplomatic relations; and reach a settlement oI all other bilateral claims.
Third. under the same conditions the US would also commit to work with Iran to enhance its Iuture prosperity and
pursue common economic interests. Under this rubric the US would encourage Iran`s peaceIul technological
development and the involvement oI US corporations in Iran`s economy. including the investment oI capital and
provision oI expertise in their oil and gas sector.
Fourth. assuming Iran also ended its Iinancial support I am diIIerentiating between their military and training
support and their Iinancial support Ior terrorist organizations in addition to IulIilling the conditions I laid out a
moment ago on the military and training (I am distinguishing it because the Iranians proposed ending material
support in their 2003 oIIer). the US would commit to terminate Iran`s designation as a state sponsor oI terror and liIt
the sanctions associated with that state sponsorship. To allow Iran to continue to support the Lebanese and
Palestinian people Iinancially. the US would commit to establish international steering groups to manage and
distribute Ilows oI Iinancial aid Ior humanitarian relieI and economic reconstruction in Lebanon and the Palestinian
territories. with Iull Iranian representation and participation in these bodies. We did that with Iran in AIghanistan.
They were Iully represented on the international steering committee Ior reconstruction in AIghanistan and they were
very Iorthcoming and eIIective.
FiIth. we would commit to the Iranians to begin an ongoing strategic dialogue with Iran as a Iorum Ior assessing
each side`s implementation oI its commitments and Ior addressing the two sides` mutual security interests and
concerns.
From an American perspective. an essential Ioundation Ior a US-Iranian grand bargain is the deIinitive resolution oI
US concerns about Iran`s possible pursuit oI weapons oI mass destruction and its support Ior terrorist groups. Some
would also add human rights to that equation. To that end. the US would need the Iollowing commitments Irom
Iran.
Iran would carry out measures negotiated with the US. other states and the IAEA to deIinitively address concerns
about Iran`s Iuel cycle capabilities. A similar provision would deal with chemical and biological issues and also
pursuant to the agreement in October 2003 between Iran and the EU-3 the Iranians would Iinally ratiIy and
implement the Additional Protocol.
The remaining elements would be that Iran would issue a statement that it was not opposed to a negotiated
settlement to the Arab-Israeli conIlict and accept Resolutions 242. 338. 1397 doing it all under a UN Security
Council rubric. We could also put on the table Ior them to support the Arab League contingent commitment to
normalize relations with Israel aIter peace was achieved.
The third point would be Iran`s support Ior transIorming Hezbollah into a purely political and social movement.
This is something they also put on the table in 2003 and President Khatami gave a speech about in Beirut.
The Iourth point would be Ior Iran to work with us Ior a stable political order in Iraq.
The IiIth point would be to enter into a human rights dialogue with the United States. The Iranians did that with the
EU and I think the US can make that even more vigorous by including members oI NGOs Irom both sides into that
dialogue.
The commitments I have laid out on each side are not easy but it is what each side needs to do and Ior the other side
to address each side`s concerns. Some may want to negotiate these elements down within each side beIore talks
between the US and Iran would actually begin but that would only serve to prevent a real. coherent and strategically
based resolution oI our bilateral diIIerences.
I would close with a simple Iact. No other approach actually seeks to resolve the diIIerences between the US and
Iran and thereIore no other approach will resolve those diIIerences.
Question & Answer:
David Mack: I have a pile oI terriIic questions here. I have roughly sorted them into three baskets oI questions. One
might be: what are we going to do about the quandary oI Iranian nuclear issues? A second is: what are those
mysterious Iranians up to strategically? A third might be: what are those mysterious Americans up to strategically?
Starting with some oI the Iranian nuclear questions. a question Ior Patrick. How can you call Iran`s nuclear eIIorts
racing ahead when it has taken them more than 30 years to Iinish one reactor and to begin to master the Iuel cycle?
Patrick Clawson: That is because we have been successIul with our sanctions. It is not because oI a lack oI Iranian
action. We tend to Iorget how much we in the outside world have been successIul at limiting Iran`s access to
international technology useIul Ior its nuclear program. That has been a campaign the United States has been
involved on Ior many years. We blocked many Iranian initiatives during the 1990s to have access to commercial
technologies which would have been useIul Ior that program. We have done even more in the Iramework oI the
multilateral sanctions over the last Iew years.
The Iact that it is taking Iran 20 years with its nuclear program is primarily a result oI the successIul application oI
our eIIorts to slow down their program.
David Mack: Hillary. I have a couple oI questions on the subiect oI how we manage US relationships with Israel
and how. while proceeding along some oI the lines you suggested to improve relations with Iran. we deter the
possibility that Israel might take matters into its own hands. There has been a lot oI discussion about the possibility
oI an Israeli strike on Iran due to their security concerns. stemming Irom some oI the statements that the Iranians
have made along with speculation about their nuclear potential and their missiles. There has also been considerable
indications that the US-Israeli relationship would suIIer badly iI we are not doing something about the Iranian
problem. So perhaps you could help us with your perspective on that. given the Iact you were in a very political
capacity there or a capacity where you could at least iudge what the politics oI this were Ior an American
administration.
Hillary Mann Leverett: It is an important question because I think the Israelis are very concerned. particularly in
the wake oI the NIE. I think beIore the NIE was released there were many views in Israel that the US would take
care oI this problem one way or the other; that we had a common understanding oI the threat emanating Irom Iran;
and the US was serious about wanting to take care oI it. Now that the NIE has come out I think there are many
Israelis who do not believe we are now serious or capable oI taking care oI this problem and are now looking at
ways that they need to reorient their national security planning to deal with this problem. iI need be on their own.
This is a serious problem. That is why leaving the tensions. leaving the threat that Iran poses to the US and to our
allies unresolved in the hope that somehow more sanctions whether they have some teeth or more teeth the idea
that that is going to work in any kind oI eIIective timetable to deal with our security concerns or Israel`s security
concerns is really IanciIul.
I will give you an example Irom one oI my experiences with the Iranians. This one took place in a kind oI Track
II/Track I and a halI environment. It was a very senior Iranian oIIicial. one oI the Iounding members oI the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard. and in the room there were Israelis Israelis who were not leItists or dovish but respected
members who deal with national security issues in Israel. This senior Iranian. Iounding member oI the
Revolutionary Guard. laid out a grand bargain. It did not include my component oI a human rights tack and there
were several Iranians in the room who were upset about that and were scared that the US could possibly agree to this
because it would essentially sell them out. But the Israelis. everyone in the room. thought this was a critically
important idea and it would deal with Israel`s problems.
So I think the way to deal with Israel`s problems. to deal with US national security interests and threats. is to deal
with them and resolve them.
David Mack: Ray. I have several questions about Iranian intentions in the GulI. In your presentation you talked a lot
about the issues oI GulI security vis-a-vis Iran. What is the Iranian government trying to communicate by sending
out patrol craIt to harass the US Navy ships in Hormuz? Were the Iranian Revolutionary Guards acting on orders
Irom the Iranian central government or were they oII the reservation?
Ray Takeyh: I am not actually quite sure what happened in the GulI on that particular occasion. There are
ambiguities on both sides. So I cannot really oIIer anything on that particular episode.
What are Iranian intentions in the GulI? It has always been Iranian policy that the security oI the GulI has to be
maintained by local indigenous actors. This has always been unacceptable to the local indigenous actors. not to
mention to the United States and others. So there has always been that degree oI tension between Iran and its
neighbors.
The GulI incident demonstrated the diIIiculty oI this relationship when there are no channels oI communication
between the two parties. This lends itselI to some sort oI incident at sea agreements how do these parties actually
communicate to deIuse a crisis that could potentially escalate? From what I see the American patrol boats acted with
an enormous degree oI restraint in light oI that particular provocation.
For Iran to become a member oI the GulI security system it has to accept the Iact that the balance oI power in the
GulI to some extent is going to be maintained by the United States. During the reIormist era there was some
acceptance or acknowledgement oI that. Even during the RaIsaniani era there was some acceptance oI the Iact that
the United States would have a presence in the region. They have to come back to that particular equation. I would
say.
Patrick Clawson: The United States will never accept Iran having a role in the region to which its neighbors obiect.
I am highly skeptical that Iran would ever accept any grand bargain with the United States which does not permit
Iran to pursue that kind oI a role.
I also think the Islamic Republic oI Iran is primarily a revolutionary state. not a normal state. The Iact that it spends
hundreds oI millions oI dollars supporting the Hamas movement. which is vigorously acting to try to wipe Israel oII
the map. is not the action oI a normal state.
Hillary Mann Leverett: That goes directly against my experience.
Patrick Clawson: The Foreign Ministry`s iob is being nice to Ioreigners. It has no substantive role in setting Ioreign
policy in Iran.
Hillary Mann Leverett: You can minimize it as that but the Iact is that while we were talking to Iran. Iran deported
hundreds oI Al Qaeda people and that was not done by nice Foreign Ministry people in their suits. When we were
talking to them they provided substantial support Ior AIghanistan. military support. There was an alliance to deal
with the Taliban and Al Qaeda beIore 9/11 that we iust ioined. That alliance was Iran. Russia and India. They had a
military alliance with weapons and training that they handed over to us. That was not done by Foreign Ministry
types.
So it really iust goes against experience to say that they cannot act in their national interest. To the point about
Iinancial support Ior Hamas. that is the same argument that people used with Saddam Hussein that he was paying
the Palestinian suicide bombers and that was part oI the case to build Saddam Hussein up as a terrorist/WMD
threat that we had to invade Iraq. There was not a lot oI inIormation to substantiate it then and I do not think there is
a lot oI inIormation to substantiate your claim today.
Patrick Clawson: The Hamas leaders reported that their principal Iinancial support is Irom Iran. That is the
statement oI Hamas leaders.
Hillary Mann Leverett: They don`t have that much substantial support. When they can bring in a suitcase with
$10.000 that iust does not count when you are talking about a population
Patrick Clawson: They claim in the last three months it is $80 million. That is their statement. not mine.
Hillary Mann Leverett: That is not substantiated in any Iact. It iust isn`t. What bank? Do you think Bank Saderat
actually wires it to the Hamas bank in Gaza? It does not work that way. They are smuggling in money where they
can and it is not $80 million.
Patrick Clawson: No Israeli oIIicial agrees with you. No Hamas oIIicial agrees with you. II the two sides who are
involved in this transaction do not agree with you. you are entitled to take your position. But to say that there is no
statement in Iavor oI it casts an interesting light on how we should view your other evaluations.
David Mack: I think what Hillary was saying was not that there was no statement but there was no evidence to
support it.
Patrick Clawson: II the two sides state it. and to say that the two sides stating it is not a piece oI evidence worth
evaluation
Hillary Mann Leverett: We had Saddam Hussein`s statements as well. People make statements Ior a variety oI
reasons. What I look at is hard Iacts. What actually happens? That is what I look at. That is what happened in
AIghanistan. that is what happened with them and Al Qaeda. That is what goes on within the US government where
I worked Ior ten years.
Patrick Clawson: That is not what goes on with the US government. What goes on in the US government is to take
a look at what US intelligence says. I would ask you iI you Iind any indication Irom Stuart Levy`s statements that he
shares that viewpoint? Quite the contrary. That is not what US intelligence has Iound. Your evaluation oI Iran`s
cooperation on Al Qaeda is interesting. It is also not the evaluation oI the United States government.
David Mack: Let`s leave that one but I`m going to try the same thing and start again with a question to Ray. I like
getting Ray`s view and then getting the views oI the two oI you. Why do you think that Iran continues to reIuse to
negotiate the problem oI the three occupied islands oI the UAE either directly or indirectly?
Ray Takeyh: There has always been. iI you go back since the occupation oI those islands in 1971. a problem about
their status. The Iranians have always made a nationalistic claim. which has actually damaged their national
interests. that these three islands are integral parts oI Iran. It is a claim that UAE and the GulI states and the GCC as
a whole has reiected. There has always been a discussion that the Iranians wanted to have bilateral discussions over
them. they want multilateral discussions. I think it is part oI the country`s nationalistic hubris that predated the
advent oI the Islamic Republic and took place during the Shah`s regime. Essentially you began to see some degree
oI continuity in large areas between the Islamic Republic and the monarchical government that it succeeded. Even
on issues in the Persian GulI the extension oI Iranian inIluence in the GulI. As a matter oI Iact the Shah used to
talk about the 'blue water navy¨ the subcontinent. the Indian Ocean the Islamic Republic has limited horizons oI
its nationalistic reach to the GulI.
It has been one oI the selI-deIeating aspects oI Iranian nationalism. I do not think there has been much damage to
their interests iI they had yielded. You can see in the 1980s when there was all this conIlict over GulI commerce. the
stationing oI troops on those islands may have given Iran some sort oI leverage but that ultimately led to
reIlagging during the Kuwaiti crisis. a Iurther proiection oI American power in the GulI. I would have given those
islands away and they would actually have garnered much more goodwill iI they had. But I do not anticipate that.
Hillary Mann Leverett: I iust want to come back because it may be Iunny to see Patrick and I argue but I think that
what you are dealing with with the Hamas Iunding issue is a real issue and it is a resolvable diplomatic issue. In May
2003 when the Iranians presented us with their oIIer Ior comprehensive talks. in that oIIer and what they said to us
was that they would put on the table their material support Ior Hamas. PIJ and Hezbollah. We can deal with that as
we dealt with the Iranians and their Iunding into AIghanistan. which Ior years was not pleasant and not something
we would like. They supported a variety oI characters. like they always do. That is part oI their national security
strategy. They make relationships and Iorm cells with a wide array oI people so they can case and do whatever they
want to protect their interests. What we did in AIghanistan is we put them on the steering committee. They put $500
million into AIghanistan and we put them on the steering committee and we saw where that money went. We can do
the same thing with Hamas.
When the Iranians made this oIIer to us. the European Union had not designated Hamas as a designated terrorist
organization. Europeans were giving money to Hamas. People in the GulI give money to Hamas. People have an
interest in giving money to the Palestinians and to the Lebanese. That is not going to stop until there is a legitimate
above-board mechanism that everybody can participate in. AIter the Israeli war in Lebanon it was not Ahmadineiad
who went Iirst to Beirut to give money to Hezbollah to rebuild it was the head oI Qatar. one oI our closest allies.
You can take any oI these issues and we can have a catIight over whatever you can take each oI these issues and
we have gone through it and there is a way to deal with it diplomatically where we can actually resolve the issue.
David Mack: Let`s take a wider look at the reasons why the Iranians sent the message in 2003. Aside Irom whether
it was a huge missed opportunity Ior us. what were the reasons that the Iranians sent the message in 2003?
Patrick Clawson: The Iranians did not send a message in 2003. In 2003 the Swiss ambassador to Iran sent a
message to the United States saying that his discussions with an Iranian oIIicial who had been relieved Irom his
position Ior his unauthorized suggestions Ior negotiations with the United States that gentleman and the Swiss
ambassador had reached an agreement that he was transmitting to the United States. which he thought the Iranian
authorities were on board Ior most oI the important points. It was the iudgment oI the Ioreign policy proIessionals
the Ioreign service oIIicers who were responsible Ior working with this that this was not an acceptable oIIer. Ask
Ray`s wiIe. who was at the time in policy planning
Ray Takeyh: No. she wasn`t.
Patrick Clawson: I would iust suggest that iI you want to ask Colin Powell`s chieI oI staII at the time. who blames
Ioreign service oIIicers Ior reiecting this he is no Iriend oI the Bush administration but he has said that he blames
the Ioreign service oIIicers Ior reiecting it. not the political appointees.
The reasons the Iranians sent it is Ior the same reason that we have over the years seen the Iranians make a great
many approaches which they could back away Irom iI they Iound it convenient. They have Iound this is a very
useIul bargaining technique with the United States. It is a very useIul way to mislead us. making oIIers which they
can then deny. have oIIicial status iI in Iact we express an interest in them. but on the other hand iI we turn them
down then the Iranians can blame us Ior having reiected what were really oIIicial oIIers.
Ray Takeyh: It is easy Ior me I don`t know what happened in 2003. But I do have a constructive suggestion. I
have always thought that the State Department should declassiIy that record. Whatever the record is there.
transmissions. cables. communications they have. they should iust declassiIy them and put them on the internet and
everyone can make their own iudgment.
Hillary Mann Leverett: I certainly think it was Irom their own government but I do not think that is as important as
understanding why it came in. which I do not think gets enough inIormation. Then we can go back because it
certainly was authorized to be sent. several Iranians have said that.
David Mack: Some people in the media have said: iI they did it then. they did it because we were in such a
powerIul position in Iraq that they Ielt that was the time they needed to talk.
Hillary Mann Leverett: We had been talking. Ryan Crocker and I had been talking month aIter month intensively
with the Iranians Irom 2001. In 2001 and most oI 2002 the talks really Iocused on AIghanistan. AIghanistan was a
complete mess. it was a Iailed state. We rebuilt that state. We dealt with reconstruction economically. militarily. on
security. political process. setting up a government. getting naysayers and terrorists to stay out oI the government
it was a tremendous task and we worked very closely with the Iranians to do that Irom 2001 through 2002.
2002 also saw collaboration and work between us on Al Qaeda. We were very concerned that Al Qaeda operatives
were Ileeing AIghanistan. going into Iran. either trying to seek reIuge there or to use Iran as an exit to get to the GulI
or other places. The Iranians deported hundreds oI these Al Qaeda operatives. They gave us copies oI the passports.
they gave it to the UN to certiIy it there.
By January 2003 though the cooperation on AIghanistan and Al Qaeda was coming down. AIghanistan was going
well. There was a process in place. Lakhdar Brahimi was the special representative on the ground. he was doing a
good iob. Things were going very well. The hundreds oI Al Qaeda people we were worried about had also been
taken care oI but there was a handIul oI Al Qaeda operatives leIt that we were very concerned about and Iran knew
it. This was part oI the talks.
Iran started to get concerned in January and February 2003: you`re going into Iraq; you`re not talking to us about it;
we have asked you to talk to us about it. There is no shared plan or vision as there was on AIghanistan. What about
those MEK people that are in Iraq? What are you going to do with them? They heard contradictory statements Irom
US oIIicials on the record. RumsIeld would say one thing. Powell would say something else about what would
happen with the MEK people. The dialogue was at an impasse by May 2003 really by March or April 2003 with
the invasion oI Iraq. Ryan Crocker and I had both leIt the dialogue. Someone else had taken over who was more
senior but had not been involved in the talks beIore that.
So I think by the spring oI 2003. March-April. they were at an impasse. Iran wanted Irom us a hardcore commitment
to hand over the MEK people in Iraq in exchange Ior these remaining Al Qaeda people. That was not something we
were willing to do. Instead we gave the MEK people protected persons status.
The key is that we were at an impasse. We gave the MEK protected status which meant we would not give them
over and we would prevent the Iraqis. who had an initiative to turn them over on their own Zubari wanted to do
that. We were not going to give the MEK. we prevented the Iraqis Irom giving the MEK. they did not want to give
us the remaining Al Qaeda people. Then there was the Riyadh bombing on May 12 and we cut oII the dialogue. That
was all in the mix in March and April when this paper was being prepared.
You can talk about who exactly wrote it. who did what I cannot say. I was not in Iran. I was not writing it. But
even iI a Martian wrote it. aIterwards Iranians have said that they authorized its transmission to the United States. It
is an important document. It could lead to the resolution oI diIIerences. The reason it came when it came was the
dialogue that Ryan Crocker and I had had Ior over a year and a halI was at an impasse.
David Mack: That kind oI makes sense to me. having worked on the Swiss connection. Why would they use the
Swiss connection Ior something oI that
Patrick Clawson: Especially when the next week there was a high-level meeting that took place between Iran`s
ambassador to the United States and a US Persian-speaking
David Mack: Iran`s ambassador to the UN.
Patrick Clawson: Iran`s ambassador to the UN and a Persian-speaking US diplomat. at which there was no mention
made oI this oIIer. I ask you. in light oI this Iact. would you take this oIIer as oIIicially authorized?
Hillary Mann Leverett: There is a simple reason Ior that. Ryan Crocker and I had leIt the dialogue and this new
person who was more senior but was new to the dialogue. he was new to the talks.
Patrick Clawson: And the Iranian who was said to endorse this was a gentleman who had been dismissed Irom his
post Ior unauthorized approaches to the Americans.
David Mack: We only have ten minutes more and I would like to get a couple more issues out here. Let`s try to
Iocus on Iranian intentions and how we assess them in Washington. Recently it does seem that we have a shiIt oI
Iranian Iocus in Iraq and to a certain extent in AIghanistan. to causing some problems. Ambiguities about that. We
hear sometimes that things have been going better but there certainly has not been a consistent improvement in
Iranian behavior toward our Iorces in Iraq and AIghanistan. Would you agree with that. Ray?
Ray Takeyh: Everything I hear is that there has been a signiIicant reduction oI these rather deadly munitions that
are coming into Iraq that were a signiIicant source oI concern Ior many within the United States a legitimate
source oI concern because they were leading to casualties. There was a lot oI speculation as to why the Iranians have
lessened their level oI support Ior the militias. Some suggest that it is General Petraeus having his own
arrangements. releasing the Iranian personnel and so Iorth. Some suggest that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and others
complained that the more Shi`a militia groups were becoming violent. the more that was cementing American
relations with Sunni groups and damaging the prospect oI Shi`a empowerment in Iraq. I suspect it was a
combination oI the two events.
David Mack: And on AIghanistan. where there are some indications oI more problems that the Iranians might be
involved in?
Ray Takeyh: I`ll have to pass on that.
Hillary Mann Leverett: Iran`s policy this is not something pleasant Ior us. this is not something we should like
but their policy is to have relationships with bad actors across the spectrum. They trained. armed and Iunded many
oI the groups in Iraq today Ior over twenty years in opposition to Saddam Hussein. They did the same thing among
the 2 million AIghan reIugees. something called the Sepi Muhammad |phonetic|. You barely hear oI it today but
they trained. armed and paid the Sepi Muhammad in Iran to be a Iorce against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. As part oI
the dialogue we convinced the Iranians to integrate those Iorces into the AIghan national military. You don`t hear
about them today. they are not a problem. We were talking about them. we came to a resolution on the military
issue.
I cannot say what level the arms shipments are today or not going into AIghanistan and Iraq. But again. that is an
example oI where we were able to take what we need to accept Iran does this. this is part oI their asymmetric
warIare. this is part oI their national security doctrine. All the Iranians I dealt with admitted it. said that they did it in
Bosnia. in the Balkans. in Central Asia. in Taiikistan. throughout the GulI they Ireely admit to it. That is their
strategy. What we need to do is coopt it and put it into something that is actually constructive rather than leaving it
there where it can kill US Iorces.
David Mack: Let`s try to Iinish on American politics. Patrick. you did a very interesting iob in pointing out the
dilemmas in dealing with Iran. The various times it has been tried. going back to the Brzezinski meeting in Algiers.
Hillary. you outlined the things you thought we should be doing. All oI you have seen some oI the comments that
have been made by Democratic candidates Ior the presidency. I would like to Iocus on this question oI whether it
makes sense to have an initiative Irom a new administration Patrick. you said they will have an initiative. I`d like
to ask the other two panelists whether it makes sense Ior a new president to have an initiative Ior direct talks with
Iran. cut out the Swiss thank them Ior their help and move to some kind oI direct talks. Or should we continue to
deal with Iran using the leverage on nuclear matters oI our European partners. using the leverage on Iraq oI Iraq`s
other neighbors. most oI whom have policies closer to ours than they do to Iran`s. and avoiding direct talks?
Ray Takeyh: I suspect there will be talks between the United States and Iran. I am not quite sure iI the modalities oI
that are that signiIicant. whether it is in the context oI 5 ¹ 1 or in the context oI bilateral or it could be like the six
party talks with North Korea. where there are six parties but there is really two in the room. I suspect something like
that could happen. The Iranians have actually not. unlike the North Koreans. talked about who is in the discussion.
whether they should be bilateral or multilateral. That has not been part oI the contention. The contention with a US-
Iran dialogue has been over preconditions not modalities. I do suspect that based upon everything the candidates
have said and written that the preconditions are not going to survive the Bush administration.
David Mack: Hillary. I can assume Irom what you said that you would preIer we be having the direct dialogue with
them. with good proIessional negotiators. rather than doing it indirectly or as part oI a larger group?
Hillary Mann Leverett: Yes. there are two issues. On substance I think the most important thing is that they be
comprehensive strategic talks with this kind oI Iinal-status arrangement Ior where US-Iran relations are going to be.
But the important thing that I do not think has gotten a lot oI attention and that a colleague oI mine has put out and I
will iust steal it Irom him. because I think it is a great idea I think these comprehensive strategic talks are really
important. Particularly at the presidential level. I do not think we should iust be talking to talk. It is not realistic to
think that this administration is going to do the comprehensive substantive talks in the remaining year in oIIice. But
what can be done and what is really important to think about to do in this last remaining year in oIIice is Ior the
secretary oI state to liIt the restrictions on US diplomats talking to Iranian diplomats. II she were to liIt that
restriction this is not part oI US legislation. it would not require any act oI Congress or executive order Irom the
president Secretary Rice today could liIt the restrictions on US diplomats dealing with Iranian diplomats that
would set the stage Ior a year Irom now Ior the next administration. whether it is Democrat or Republican. to come
in with a really substantive strategically grounded policy to pursue engagement with Iran.
David Mack: Patrick. you have given some really eloquent reasons why you do not think talks with Iran are going
to go well. when they inevitably get started. But assuming there is a certain inevitability that the new administration
will try. what is the best modality Ior them to use?
Patrick Clawson: Certainly oIIicial talks. The basic reason they will have problems however is on the Iranian side.
We have a Supreme Leader who is Iirmly convinced that the United States is trying to make a velvet revolution. He
will throw a 67-year-old grandmother in prison Ior eight months because he is convinced that she could bring down
his regime all by herselI. He thinks that George Soros and George Bush are working together in order to overthrow
the Iranian regime. Unless he knows something about George Soros and George Bush that I don`t. I do not believe
that they are in Iact conspiring together. But he does and he believes it Iirmly. because he thinks that these Orange
Revolutions and Velvet Revolutions and things like that will bring down his regime. When that attitude prevails
among the top elite oI the Iranian government and in particular the man who. as we heard earlier today. is the real
decision-maker in Iran. it is extremely optimistic to think that you are going to prevail through that. That is the
Iundamental problem we Iace: the Supreme Leader is the key issue here. We have to Iind a way to reach him. So
long as he thinks that his regime could crumble in a week the way the Czech regime did. we are going to have a real
problem. He is also going to know that we would be absolutely delighted iI his regime crumbled. No matter how
many times we pledge that we are not working Ior regime change. he is going to know and so are we that we
would be very happy iI that happened.
David Mack: Thank you Ior ending on such a high note. Patrick. Let`s thank the whole panel.
Speaker Details:
Patrick Clawson is Deputy Director Ior Research Washington Institute Ior Near East Policy
Hillary Mann Leverett is a Iormer National Security Council director Ior Iran and Persian GulI AIIairs
Ray Takeyh is a Senior Fellow oI Middle Eastern studies at Council on Foreign Relations
David Mack is Vice President oI the Middle East Institute