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09 August 2005


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Justin Delabar

Nice points by Mr Davis. Putting forward an actual alliance with the Islamic Republic will obviously be a hard sale, both in the US and Iran. The US is still considered "The Great Satan" in the most extreme circles, and undoubtedly there would be fierce competition from within ultra-conservative circles and vast portions of the IRGC for such an idea. Then again, Hizbollah was able to normalize relations with an apostate government in Lebanon following the Taif Accords without completely alienating its core and losing influence, so it is possible, although Iran is obviously on a completely different level.

I wrote recently on establishing closer ties to Syria for basically the same reasons as Mr Davis has put forward on Iran. Syria, however, seems like an easier target currently for cooperation on both sides. Working with Assad wouldn't be directly aiding the vast Shi'ite conspiracy, and increased engagement with Damascus would allow for more sway on the Hizbollah issue, perhaps, instead of forcing Syria into a box where it would become more hostile and less conciliatory to Western interests.

It all comes down to which is more important in regards to American foreign policy: aiding Israel by placing wedges between Iran, Iraq, and Syria, or striking at the heart of Salafist and Deobandi Sunni Islam to dismantle al Qaedaism in its numerous forms. A sort of balance between the two would be desirable, but considering the Cowboy Diplomat currently at Crawford, that's not going to be possible.


Mr. Delabar,

You seem to be saying that Iranian hostility to the US would disappear if we markedly changed our foreign policy. This is a view shared by many, including Mike Scheuer, but not by me.

I think things like our Israel policy exacerbate our problems with many in the Islamic World but they are not determining in the minds of groups like AQ and the Iranian government.

We may not beleive that this is a "clash of civilizations," but they do. pl

Justin Delabar

"You seem to be saying that Iranian hostility to the US would disappear if we markedly changed our foreign policy. This is a view shared by many, including Mike Scheuer, but not by me."

No, I don't believe that at all. There have to be changes on both sides, extreme changes, and I don't see that happening any time soon. Iranian hostility toward the US is deeply entrenched, spanning decades, initially stemming from the overthrow of Mossadegh in the 50s. And the US has been inherently suspicious of Iran since the Revolution. Finding common ground is not going to be easy in the near term, or, perhaps, even possible.

Which is why I brought up Syria as a much more probable ally in the region. The US has worked with Damascus before against al Qaeda, and it can again. Certainly the US and Syria don't like each other, but the hatred isn't part of the countries' core cultures... yet. All dependent on current and future US policy toward Syria.

Martin Kramer

Well, it's a bit more complicated. Here's a lecture I gave on the subject last year: "Shiites and U.S. Policy: Between Allies and Adversaries."


Some of them we can work with. And some of them we can't.

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