Following recent developments in the US foreign policy orientation to Iran, the analyst is tempted to hypothesize that the Bush Administration faces a dilemma of intimidation and diplomacy regarding Iran. Official documents and media reports indicate the US resistance to have direct talks with Iran. BBC reports that "the US has had no formal ties with Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution". The Bush Administration publicly echoes Washington’s tough positon on Iran whenever they have the opportunity to do so. US Vice-President Dick Cheney follows this logic of toughness and intimidation when he warns Iran over its programs of developing nuclear weapons and restricting sea traffics.

However, early May 2007, at a recent international conference about Iraq, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly met with Iran’s foreign Minister. Even though official reports stressed that such a meeting did not mean a direct talk with Iran, political analysis observes that US move as a strategic indicator of the US progressive inclination to direct dialogue with Iran. Evidences in international negotiations demonstrate and support that a simple meeting (whether it is short or long) is a powerful symbol that annonces conflicting parties’ willingness to enter negotiation phases, after they have reached a stalemate.

The US has interests in negotiating with Iran for peace in Iraq and in the Middle-East. A certain awareness of historical ties built by the Ottoman Empire does not allow the policymaker to isolate Iraq from Iran. Iraq was the political and cultural heart of the Ottoman Empire, while Iran was like the body of it. In the same way there is crisis when the heart is separated from the rest of the body, the crisis in Iraq will continue as long as Iran is not involved on the table for national problem-solving in Iraq. Obvisously, the Iraqi crisis fuels crisis and instability in the Middle-East. The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is aware of such reality when he recently urged Washington to engage in direct talks with Tehran. It is extremely important that the Bush Administration gives full priority to diplomacy. Vice-President Dick Cheney’s ongoing visit in the Gulf intends to ask allies such as Saudi Arabia to help the Iraqi government. Such diplomatic offensives are positive and commendable. Nevertheless, they still desperately need to be extended to Iran and Syria in order to be efficient and successful. Only humble diplomacy can foster peace in Iraq and stability in the Middle-East.

Jacques KOKO, Senior Political Analyst -Americans for Informed Democracy