TEHRAN, May 31 (MNA) -- U.S. President Barack Obama has reached out to Iran and the Iranian leadership since coming to office. He has won the praise of the international community for the different kind of approach he has adopted toward Iran.

In a video message to the Iranian people and leaders for Noruz (Iranian New Year), Obama said his “administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community.”


However, the U.S. Congress is taking up a bipartisan proposal to toughen sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.  


A group of Democrats and Republicans introduced legislation on April 28 that would give the president expanded authority to crack down on companies that export gasoline and other refined petroleum products to Iran.


The White House has indicated that it would not block the bill.  


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has threatened Iran with “crippling sanctions”.


And recently, in its annual report, the State Department labeled Iran the “world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism.”


The report accuses Tehran of training Taliban members. The same Taliban that Clinton admits the U.S. “funded twenty years ago.”


So, if President Obama is extending a hand of friendship to Iran, why are the Congress and State Department not in tune with him?


This obviously contradicts Obama’s slogan of “change”.


Analysts say Obama has reached out to Iran, but he is being heavily criticized by members of his own party who want to isolate and demonize Iran. Many of them see Iran as a threat to Israel.


It can also be said that Washington is pursuing the same carrot and stick policy that the Bush administration had adopted toward Iran because its leaders did not respond positively to Obama’s Noruz message.


Iran’s leaders have repeatedly accused the United States of being behind the terrorist attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has angered U.S. officials.


The Islamic Republic also expanded its uranium enrichment facility and jailed an Iranian-American journalist on espionage charges, although she was later freed.


In addition, Tehran staunchly insists that the U.S. must change in practice. Iranian officials say a change in tone is not enough and Washington must change its policies toward the Islamic Republic.


Former U.S. national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski says relations cannot be normalized by “begging and waiting till the other side takes an action.” In an interview with Press TV on April 18, 2009, Brzezinski described Obama’s message as a very historically significant and brave action. He said if the Iranians are waiting for Washington to take an action, they will fail to see the important overture that Obama offered in his speech.


But ideology and interests do not change quickly. Washington has been threatening Iran with crippling sanctions and accusing it of sponsoring terrorism for the past 30 years.


It should also not be forgotten that Iran’s Islamic Revolution was built upon combating what Tehran calls Western, especially U.S., “imperialism”.


Thus, a real change in the approach of each country is necessary in order for dialogue to begin.


(June 1 Tehran Times Perspective Column, by R. Sohrabi-Nik)





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