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Jan 14, 2007

On Iran's Legitimate Concerns and Why We Need Dialogue

Iran is frequently accused of fueling the insurgency and attacks on American troops in Iraq and attempting to project their influence there. This is almost universally described as unacceptable and inflammatory. I would like to mention some of Iran's legitimate concerns.

* First, Iran does not want an unstable Iraq. They want a clear winner, preferably SCIRI or JAM (or those two working together). They want to shift the balance of power away from the Sunni run states of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Jordan and over to their end. This will help them secure a border.

*Iran hates Al Qaeda and the Taliban, though obviously doesn't mind that they attack the US.

* Iran may want to keep America bogged down to keep itself safe. Iran may in fact be encouraging an insurgency or at least Anti-American actions in Iraq, but they are probably perfectly willing and able to change that policy. They just want to make sure the US isn't trying to extract itself from the mess of Iraq just to attack Iran. They certainly don't want the US to be capable of a ground invasion, though such a plan would be a disaster for the US again.

*Given the mutual distrust between Iran and the US, only dialogue could help us move in a direction that is less confrontational.

* The US position on the nuclear issue, that Iran can never have even a nuclear power station because they'd be too dangerous while the US may have all the nuclear warheads it wants, is fundamentally absurd and in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's conditions. The US must somehow come to a negotiated solution on this one.

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