[Marxism] Khamenei's Foreign and Economic Policy a Bigger Threat to Iran than Washington
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Wed Jul 5 11:12:10 MDT 2006
Khamenei's foreign and economic policy is more of a threat to Iran
than Washington is. -- Yoshie
Ayatollah's Moves Hint Iran Wants To Engage
Supreme Leader Sets Course for WTO Membership
By Karl Vick
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 5, 2006; A10
ISTANBUL -- As diplomatic maneuvering continues over Iran's nuclear
program, the cleric who holds ultimate authority in the country has
signaled twice in recent days that Iran intends to engage the wider
world it long held at bay.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, announced the formation
of a new council to advise him on foreign affairs and a new
privatization program aimed at preparing Iran for eventual membership
in the World Trade Organization.
Neither move was related directly to the nuclear controversy, which a
senior Iranian official is due to discuss with the European Union's
top diplomat on Wednesday. But analysts said Khamenei's announcements
served to reinforce the assumption of U.S. and European officials that
Iran wants to be more integrated in the world.
Based on that theory, E.U. foreign policy chief Javier Solana last
month presented a package of incentives to Iran -- including promises
of trade and technical advice -- as part of efforts to persuade Iran
to suspend uranium enrichment.
"As far as bringing Iran out of isolation and joining with
international organizations, it's a positive step," said Davoud
Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international law at Tehran's Supreme
National Defense University, referring to Khamenei's announcement.
The formation of a new foreign relations panel may also indicate
dissatisfaction with the foreign policy performance of President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Khamenei named as the panel's chairman Kamal
Kharrazi, the man Ahmadinejad removed as foreign minister after taking
office last year.
"I think it's significant," said a European diplomat in Tehran, who
asked to not be identified further so that he could speak openly.
"Personally, I think it amounts to trying to put limits to the
The new Strategic Council for Foreign Relations also includes another
former foreign minister, a former admiral in the Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps, a former commerce official and a cleric with hard-line
credentials who has served as Iran's ambassador to China. The new
council joins a constellation of existing government panels devoted to
foreign policy, but it will report directly to Khamenei, who "sensed a
deficiency," Kharrazi told Iranian media.
Bill Samii, who follows Iranian affairs for U.S.-funded Radio Free
Europe and Radio Liberty, said Ahmadinejad's confrontational rhetoric
reflects the views of fellow veterans of the eight-year war with Iraq,
when Iran was bitterly disappointed to find itself fighting alone.
Western powers and Arab states supported Saddam Hussein's secular
"Ahmadinejad and his cohorts play up the sort of appeal to the Third
World and the Non-Aligned Movement on the nuclear issue, and of course
their background and their experience in the war with Iraq teaches
them you want to be as self-sufficient as possible," Samii said. "But
the leadership and people in responsibility know you can't go it
alone. You can't walk the talk."
He said Khamenei wants to find a way for Iran to be part of
international politics and the global economy without being seen as
having given in to Western pressure. Iran has traditionally defined
itself in contrast to the West, and Western powers now accuse it of
secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.
"Iran has been isolated . . . and this is something they find very
unpalatable," Samii said.
Iran's embrace of reforms that could win the nation acceptance in the
international community has been halting. The government controls as
much as 80 percent of the economy, leaving unclear how cash-strapped
ordinary Iranians will find money for the shares in state enterprises
that Khamenei has said will be sold.
Foreign investors remain wary of a system that in June announced that
a company affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard would be awarded a
$2.3 billion contract to develop a natural gas field.
Yet membership in the WTO, the treaty organization that sets the rules
of international trade, has been a stated goal of Iran for years.
Until last year, the U.S. government maintained a policy of blocking
Iran's bid. The two countries broke off diplomatic relations a
quarter-century ago, after militant students took 52 Americans hostage
at the overrun U.S. Embassy in Tehran while protesting previous U.S.
interference in Iranian affairs.
But the Bush administration last year signaled that it would drop its
objection to WTO membership as part of a bid to coax Iran to suspend
its nuclear program. In a package now under consideration by Iranian
officials, the United States joins Russia, China, France, Britain and
Germany in offering an assortment of other assistance provided Iran's
long-secret program is certified as peaceful, as Iran maintains it is.
A European diplomat said Solana would press Iran's lead nuclear
negotiator, Ali Larijani, to respond to the package before July 12,
when foreign ministers of the six powers are scheduled to meet in
Paris. Iran has said it will not have a formal reply until August.
Staff writer Dafna Linzer in Washington contributed to this report.
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