Archive for the ‘Dennis Ross’ Category

Hopes For U.S. Policy Change on Iran Dim

January 11, 2009

President-elect Barack Obama has not yet been inaugurated, but some Iranians are already losing their optimism that he will change policy toward Iran  after 30 years of estrangement.

An initial groundswell of enthusiasm among some Iranians has been replaced by caution and concern.

By Hadi Nili
The Washington Times

“Obama” means “he is with us” in Persian. But an Iranian weekly tabloid recently ran a headline saying “He is not with us.”

“Nothing will basically change with Obama,” said a foreign editor for one of Iran’s most prominent newspapers, who asked that only his first name, Reza, be used. “He is one of them; someone from the system, despite his slogans.”

The reported choice last week of Dennis Ross as the Obama administration’s Iran coordinator also is likely to be unpopular in the Iranian government. Mr. Ross is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that Iranians regard as extremely close to Israel. Israel has described Iran’s nuclear program, which Iran maintains is for peaceful purposes only, as a threat.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Keyhan, a hard-line newpaper close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called Mr. Ross, a former Middle East negotiator, “a Zionist lobbyist in the U.S. administration.”

“Iranians have serious misgivings about Dennis Ross because of his close ties to the pro-Israel lobby … not to mention Ross’ recent writings that push for tough actions against Iran while de-prioritizing the Israel-Palestinian issue,” said Kaveh Afrasiabi, a former Iranian nuclear-issues negotiator.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama promised to open direct talks with Iran without preconditions. However, foreign-affairs specialists here predict he will focus first on domestic issues, particularly the economic crisis.


“To the extent that Obama is willing to devote energy to Iran, he will certainly consider the issue of how to respond to signals being sent by the current government,” said Nasser Hadian, a professor of international relations at Tehran University and a former lecturer at Columbia University in New York. “This will certainly take time, and he is in no hurry to respond to a request for talks.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad, like many other Iranians, publicly expressed doubts before the election that a black man could win the presidency. However, after the Nov. 4 vote, the Iranian leader sent the president-elect a letter of congratulations, which also reminded Mr. Obama of his “chance for change, which is given to him by the vote of American citizens.”

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Iran: Nuclear? Rich With Oil? A Threat? Some Dubious Ideas Linger….

December 5, 2008

The incoming Barack Obama administration has already been inundated with reports, policy recommendations and position papers vying for the president-elect’s attention on the Iran nuclear issue. Although nicely wrapped in the semantics of a “fresh” or “game-changing” approach, the majority are familiar and lack novelty, and this should come as no surprise as many were penned by old US foreign policy hands like Dennis Ross and Martin Indyk.

As a result, even when they seem to be suggesting a reasonable “new thinking” in the US’s Iran policy, wedded to the idea of “engagement” and or “dialogue without preconditions”, these noble efforts are, however, undermined by their reliance on dubious assumptions. Not to mention their restrictive methodologies, which ultimately veer them back towards the same old plans for “coercive diplomacy”.

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi 
Asia Times 

There are also the limits to the “dialogue without preconditions” logic put forth by, among others, the president of Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, in a new collaborative report with Indyk published by the Brookings Institution. Although positive in many respects and apparently earning the disapproval of Israel, the Haass-Indyk call for engaging Iran in dialogue without preconditions falls short of what is really necessary and lacking in Washington today, that is, dialogue without false assumptions.

One such false assumption that has been adopted like an article of faith by nearly all the pundits and nuclear experts in the US today, is that Iran is fast approaching a “nuclear breakout capability” – in light of Iran’s double process of mastering the nuclear fuel cycle and advancing its missile technology. This has warranted the word “crisis”, to quote US Senator Jon Kyl. [1] Not to be outdone by politicians, a number of nuclear experts, such as David Albright, have echoed the sentiment.

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Ahmadinejad, Iran Worry Oil’s Price Shrinks Thier Importance

Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has for the first time admitted that the fall in world oil prices will affect the economic projects of his government, local media reported on Thursday.

“If we fix the oil price at 30 dollars a barrel in the budget, we will have to abandon much of our economic projects … We have to set it at 30 to 35 dollars as we don’t determine the oil price on international markets,” he said.

He acknowledged that “oil prices will be low for some time” because of the global recession.

Iran, which is OPEC’s second largest producer, has an official oil output of 4.2 million barrels a day, with half of the country’s budget dependent on its crude exports.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) Foreign Minister ... 
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left) Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in Tehran on December 1, 2008. Ahmadinejad has for the first time admitted that the fall in world oil prices will affect the economic projects of his government, local media reported.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)

Ahmadinejad boasted only last month that his government could run the country “with a barrel of oil priced at between eight and five dollars.”

“Even if we reach the point where the enemies do not buy our oil any more, we can manage the country. Thanks God, fluctuations in oil prices will have no effect on the next budget,” he said.

From:  AFP

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