Commentary | US/Iran – An Olive Branch and a Stick – Al Maeena
Published: February 10, 2013
SUSRIS periodically shares perspectives from columnists in Saudi Arabia and around the Gulf. Here today for your consideration is a recent column by Tariq A. Al Maeena who writes regularly for Gulf News.
An Olive Branch and a Stick Tariq A. Al Maeena
For US-Iran talks to go forth and produce fruitful results there must be efforts from both parties to bridge the gap
It was a welcome overture. Joe Biden, the US vice-president, said recently in Munich that the US was prepared for direct discussions with Iran if Tehran was serious about working towards the resolution of the differences between them. Since being re-elected, US President Barack Obama has shown intentions of resuming dialogue with Iran by sending out positive signals.
“There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy backed by pressure to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court. But we have also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation,” offered Biden.
The offer for the talks was greeted positively in some of the Iranian government circles. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, reacted positively to Biden’s offer and added on TV: “I would like to say that these are good signs … We are a rational government and we look into resolving all outstanding international issues through negotiation. This is not a forbidden zone. This is not a red line when it comes to holding bilateral talks on particular subjects. Here I mean the nuclear issue. This is not a red line.” He added that his government would seriously consider the offer, but cautioned that they would have to refrain from “threatening rhetoric that everything is on the table”.
A few days later, the US widened sanctions on Iran with the intention of restricting its ability to use revenues from oil sales. According to a statement by the US Department of Treasury, the intent was: “In addition to effectively locking up Iranian oil revenue overseas, this provision sharply restricts Iran’s use of this revenue for bilateral trade and severely limits Iran’s ability to move funds across jurisdictions.”