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Interview with Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi Iran's Former Ambassador to France and the United Nations

Recent developments in the region, assassination of Osama bin Laden and a direct call by the US President Barack Obama on Israel to return behind 1967 borders and pave the way for the establishment of a Palestinian state are three sides of a historical triangle not only in the Middle East, but for the whole world. Some analysts believe that recent developments represent awakening of nations as a result of the accumulation of unheeded calls from those nations and suppression of their religious and national requests by despots. Others, however, allude to the hidden influence of the United States on these developments and maintain that they are in line with Washington's plan to form a new Middle East. Anyway, four months after the beginning of the Arab Spring, there are still questions as to the real nature of these uprisings, their temporary and long-term effects on regional stability and their relationship to Obama's concept of smart power and his promise for change. Perhaps, only time will respond to some of those questions. In the following interview with Khabar Online, Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Kharrazi, has discussed regional developments from a whole new angle and has explained position of Iran and its foes in the region. Iran's former ambassador to France and the United Nations maintains that under present circumstances, Iran, Turkey, and Egypt continue to be dominant powers in the region. However, certain players are trying to play a more effective role in power relations of the Middle East by banking on their relations with the United States. One of those players is Saudi Arabia.

Q: Can recent developments in the region, including assassination of Osama bin Laden by the US forces and Obama's call on Israel to go back behind 1967 borders provide us with clues on a new definition of international relations? Has a new paradigm is currently taking shape in the US foreign policy and international relations?

A: To answer this question, we should first ask whether traditional norms are still sufficient to run the world. Is it possible to recast international relations, international economy and even international law through redefinition of new hopes and fears? Review of research findings will lead us to the fact that the world can no longer be managed through the past traditions, ideals and approaches. I think, therefore, that all political developments are direct outcome of a new definition of international relations. That is, relations between developed and developing worlds, on the one hand, and relations between the world's big powers and the Muslim countries, on the other hand, and even relations between North and South have completely changed. A major point here is that the change is not limited to international relations, but goes way beyond those relations. We can ask similar questions about the situation of international economy or international law. I mean, we may ask do past models of international economics or law still hold water? Are past models of international security and order can be still applied to the modern world? It is definitely not easy to answer those questions. Therefore, a negative answer will lead us to the fact that new norms are in the offing and new exigencies rule the international system. The bipolar system has collapsed and although international rifts have reduced power of various states, new national and economic trends are taking shape. Transfer of power from states to new national, regional and international players is an outcome of a postmodern international system.

Q: It follows from what you said that a certain power has decided to make these changes to the world.

A: I am talking about accumulation of expectations and absence of appropriate response to outstanding demands. In my opinion, if past models of international system were sufficient to meet the needs of nations and governments, perhaps, we would have been faced with a different world now. Those models have fallen short of meeting expectations and this is why we are witnessing such extensive developments in the region. Those models had to change and the world is changing with them. This is the real concept of growth in which both nations and states are doing their parts for creation of a new order which will actually conform to norms of a world where local and religious values are advocated.

Q: Anyway, it seems there are innuendos in your words to an invisible force causing regional changes.

A: Debates about promotion of democracy in the Middle East are as old as 30 years in the United States. Political analysts or think tanks make a link between security and development and believe that there is direct relationship between security and development. The most important point, however, was how to put those ideas into action. There have been regular debates about how to implement this model.

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Nobody can deny that the Americans are spending a lot of time and money on ideas and theories. What do you think these think tanks, which have been among the greatest critics of the American policy, been doing during all these years? Rockefeller Foundation, Kennedy Foundation, Nixon Research Center, universities like Princeton and Stanford, the Middle East Center at Harvard, and Carnegie Endowment, have not been idle during past years. All American and non-American thinkers and theorists have been obliged to work round the clock and produce theories for Middle Eastern policy of the United States. They have had to present roadmaps. The American foreign policy had been in constant contact with research centers to avail themselves of their viewpoints and strategies, especially during the Cold War. Of course, it cannot be denied that under Bush Jr., the American foreign policy was taken hostage by Neocons; that is, the school of thought which was pioneered by Bernard Lewis and Michael Ledeen. They had practically blocked the way of other schools of thought.

The Middle East has been and still is the most important issue in the American political literature and it has had trans-Atlantic importance to strategic policies of the world's most important power and the biggest economy. Situation in this region has influenced what is going on in the outside world.

The US national security strategy is closely related to its military doctrine and Middle East policy. One of the most important concerns for the United States is how to manage rapidly growing economies of India and China, how to control future supply of energy and how to counterbalance influence of those countries in international organizations. Between 2000 and 2007, economic growth in those parts of the world has been faster than any time before. This is why I believe that the new international system will be radically different from past systems.

Q: Apart from its unique position in international arena, what other issues have made the United States decide that it should invest in theoretical areas in the Middle East?

A: A brief review of theoretical products of those centers will get you to an interesting conclusion. Both those centers which have been producing theories and those which focused on political, economic, military, cultural and social affairs in the Middle East have pointed out that the greatest weakness of the United States is the lack of good understanding of social events in the Middle East. They have reached the conclusion that this weakness has dealt the heaviest blows to the United States in the Middle East. They bring the Islamic Revolution in Iran as the most prominent example of US mistakes in the Middle East and believe that absence of good understanding about various social strata in Iran caused the United States to lose a valuable opportunity such as Iran. They have used this point in their models and have also got their thinkers to study various models. Their studies have brought fruit in the past years and they are now well aware about what is good or what is bad in the region. The call by Mr. Obama on Israel to retreat behind 1967 borders is a direct outcome of those studies and American strategies. They have reached the conclusion that this strategy will be in the best interest of the United States.

To Be Continued...

Source: Khabaronline News Website
Translated By: Iran Review