The Next Round

TEHERAN/BERLIN | | iran

TEHERAN/BERLIN (Own report) - In the aftermath of Iran's presidential elections, German foreign policy specialists and government advisors are pushing for a new round in the power struggle with Teheran. Even before votes were cast, German specialists were calling for using the personnel change to launch a new round in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The conditions are now considered unusually favorable. The winner of the elections, Hassan Rohani is "in favor of compromises in the nuclear dispute and a normalization of relations with the USA." Whereas some experts on Iran are pleading for using cooperation programs, "killing Teheran with kindness" - others are still in favor of pursuing confrontation approaches. For example, one of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's former advisors proposes that the more than 3,000 members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, trapped in Iraq, be taken from that country. In the past, the West had considered them as a possible core for a subversive military insurgent movement in Iran. The EU should also address the Iranian people directly - for example, using internet PR campaigns or through the recently founded "European Endowment for Democracy," which has the task of strengthening subversive forces against undesirable regimes.

Compromises in the Nuclear Dispute

Even before the Iranian presidential elections, last Friday, German specialists in foreign policy were pleading for a readjustment of Germany's and the EU's approach to Teheran. The pending new constellation of the Iranian establishment offers a good "opportunity" for doing this, explains, for example, Cornelius Adebahr, an associate fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).[1] Since Hassan Rohani has won the elections, experts are now insisting even more on progressing in the negotiations. The moment is seen as advantageous, because Rohani is considered part of a political spectrum that is more open to the West, than that of his predecessor President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Also preceding the elections, Iran specialist Bahman Nirumand, speculated that he may even "introduce a fundamentally new foreign policy." Rohani "strongly criticized Ahmadinejad's foreign policy" declaring that "he does not master the art of diplomatic negotiation," but rather used "inflammatory rhetoric, which has brought the country to the brink of war." Rohani, on the other hand, "seeks compromises in the nuclear dispute and a normalization of relations with the USA."[2]

Killing with Kindness

A plea for an "embracing strategy" is one of the proposals for the approach to Teheran, now making the rounds in Berlin. As the Iranian-Israeli foreign policy expert, Meir Javedanfar wrote in "Internationale Politik" published by the DGAP, the sanctions against Iran are showing effects: they "could become an existential threat to the regime." The West should therefore intensify the negotiations. One should not "get tired" of "making proposals to the other side."[3] In the long run, Teheran would not be able to evade them. Javedanfar is circumscribing the attempt to wear down the adversary using means of cooperation rather than direct confrontation. For example, "imagine a boxing match. Rather than throwing punches at the contender, you bear-hug him. It is the tying him up that wins points and weakens the adversary." Weakening Iran with cooperation has been repeatedly demanded by German foreign policy specialists. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]). The specialized journal "Internationale Politik" calls this strategy "killing with kindness."

Support the Resistance

Even though the "embrace strategy" is gaining ground in Berlin since Rohani's electoral victory, proposals of aggressive confrontation have still remained on the table. Horst Teltschik, a former advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who served from 1999 to 2008 as the director of the Munich Security Conference, pleads for such an approach. Teltschik demands that "the opposition forces in Iran" must be "given the public signal and therefore the assurance that their resistance is not only being honored, (...) but also supported."[5] This expert makes his call even more concrete with a demand "to free the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) from the grip of the Iraqi leadership." (The more than 3,000 member People's Mujahedin is currently being held in Bagdad by the pro-Iranian Iraqi government.) For some time, Teltschik has been campaigning for providing MEK asylum in Germany - an unusual step for Germany, which usually turns refugees away. At times, over the past few years, the MEK had been considered a core element for a subversive military movement in Iran. It should "be politically supported," according to Kohl's former advisor.

Stir up the Population

At the same time, DGAP associate fellow, Cornelius Adebahr, makes proposals that could lead to an aggressive confrontation as well as to a cooperation strategy of embrace. Adebahr favors establishing a special "Task Force Iran" within the EU to consolidate all activities concerning Iran. Parallel to this task force, he also favors a reinforcement of the EU's internet PR propaganda, for example, through the creation of a Persian language "virtual embassy."[6] This could provide a means of "explaining" to the internet-enthused Iranian population the "EU's policy" toward their country. But, above all, Adebahr proposes that the EU address "the masses of the people, directly" - with Persian language internet publications. This will offer a means for denouncing Teheran's violations e.g. of rule of law, freedom of the press or labor rights. This foreign policy specialist has concrete ideas about possible instruments for stirring up the Iranian people against their government, such as foundations, like the German party-affiliated foundations or the "European Endowment for Democracy." The latter was recently created to furnish support to subversive forces in foreign countries. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) Adebahr has good access to Brussels: He is a member of "Team Europe," a "network of experts" of the EU Commission.

Pressure on Teheran

While the diverse strategy variations for wearing down Iranian resistance to western hegemony over the Persian Gulf are being discussed,[8] Berlin is intensifying its pressure on the government in Teheran. Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, said his government "expects Iran to do its part to help bring about a swift diplomatic solution to its standoff with the West over its disputed nuclear program." The newly elected Iranian President must now "assume his responsibility in terms of sobriety and hope," writes the foreign ministry.[9] Hassan Rohani will take office in August, however, the disputedp around his foreign policy course has already begun.

Other reports and background information on Germany's policy toward Syria can be found here: Lever for Destabilization, Traditional Role, Equilibrium rather than Exclusion, Anticipating a Coup, Lever for Destabilization (III), Hegemonic Conflict at the Gulf, The Role of Propaganda, War Threats against Iran and End in a Slaughter.

[1] Cornelius Adebahr: A Plan B, C and D for an EU policy towards Iran, European Policy Centre Policy Brief, 10.06.2013
[2] Bahman Nirumand: Wahlen im Iran: Innen- und außenpolitische Herausforderungen; www.boell.de 11.06.2013
[3] "Die Sanktionen wirken". Interview mit dem iranisch-israelischen Sicherheitsexperten Meir Javedanfar, Internationale Politik Mai/Juni 2013
[4] see also Equilibrium rather than Exclusion, Potenzial zum Partner and Die Präventivkriegslogik
[5] Horst Teltschik: Marionetten im Wettbewerb; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 13.06.2013
[6] Cornelius Adebahr: A Plan B, C and D for an EU policy towards Iran, European Policy Centre Policy Brief, 10.06.2013
[7] see also Emerging Leaders
[8] see also Die gemeinsame Front gegen Iran and Der Feind meines Feindes
[9] Große Verantwortung für Irans neuen Präsidenten; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 15.06.2013