US – Iran talks: Whose change of behavior?

by Mohammad Amin

In the eve of the Sharm El-Sheikh conference in Egypt, the Iranian mullahs have raised voice about the recognition of their hegemonic role in Iraq.

Keyhan newspaper (a paper in Iran run by the official representative of the Supreme Leader, reflecting regime's political strategy) in its editorial of April 22nd states: “Not only Americans have had no impact on limiting our operations in Iraq but the Iranian and Iraqi governments have strengthened their ideological, and political-security pacts.”

Anther article published on April 30th in Keyhan reaffirms: “No guarantees about the future of Iraq will succeed or work unless Iran agrees to its principles.”

In an unprecedented manner the Iranian theocratic official papers published a Washington Post article in its entirety on April 27th. The article titled: “Signs of a Spring Thaw, Interest on both sides on U.S.-Iran Talks” says: “The decisions the Iranian leadership makes over the next several weeks about diplomatic strategy will shape Iran's future, as well as that of the Middle East…. But a process of bargaining is underway between Iran and the USA. That's what became clear this week, in two different diplomatic channels…. To reassure the Iranians, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took the unusual step of disavowing any U.S. plans for regime change. "It [regime change] was not the policy of the U.S. government. The policy was to have a change in regime behavior.”

We need to understand what information the clerical regime found interesting and to its benefit that they published the complete Washington Post article a day after its appearance.

Michael Ledeen, an American Enterprise Institute analyst writes: “…Iran is killing our guys, and the secretary of state is begging them to make a nice deal with us. We seem to have gotten the Iraqis to promise to kick out the MEK if only the Iranians will come to Egypt and make nice with Condi. (I am no fan of the MEK, but this sort of preemptive sacrifice is appalling.” (National Review Online April 26th)

It seems that the author of the above article has reached the conclusion about a deal between the United States and Iran based on the positions taken by the American officials in recent days.

On April 30th, Khalilzad, the new US ambassador in the United Nations mentioned: “Iran plays a significant role in stabilizing Iraq.”

Mrs. Rice’s remarks are even more intriguing. Previously, on a number of occasions, she had stated negotiating with Iran is contingent on suspension of their uranium enrichment. In recent days, she has shown interest about having a discussion with the mullah’s foreign minister with no pre-conditions. In reality, instead of the mullahs changing behavior, the U.S. is showing flexibility.

The mullahs in Tehran have concluded that: “the change in the tone of the west demonstrates that they only show flexibility if you show your muscles and the normal political language has no effect on them.” (Resalat, one of the 3 major official papers, April 29, 2007)

The newspaper officially representing the mullahs has named a number of conditions for negotiating with the United States and one of them is putting pressure on the MEK.

The fact is that the Iranian clerics see MEK as the most significant threat to their existence. The truth is that suppression of MEK has always been their first demand from the western governments.

The reality is that Iran needs to score some points in negotiations with the west in order to quell with the internal dissent.

But the clerics will not give up their nuclear program, their meddling in Iraq and their internal suppression no matter what they get in return for their negotiations.

Those who make a distinction between the regime change and the behavior change are either ignorant of the 28-year history of the Iranian regime or intend to rename “appeasement” as “change of behavior”.

The change in behavior does not mean forcing mullahs to brush their teeth, smile, and be polite. Their behavior includes suppression of Iranian people, dominating Iraq, meddling and terrorism in Lebanon, Palestine and Afghanistan and insistence in developing nuclear weapons. Without these behaviors, the regime of "Clerical Supremacy" (Velayat-e-Faqih) will not be the theocracy it is now and will collapse.

This is such a known and real fact that the leaders of Iranian Resistance have repeatedly asked international parties to please go ahead and negotiate only if you could make the mullahs take a small step in denouncing fundamentalism, terrorism and internal suppression.