(Persia Digest) – On Saturday, 13 October 2018, a seminar was held on the scientific analysis of challenges of Iran-US relations by the Iranian Political Science Association at the Humanities Forum in Tehran. Speakers were Dr Mostafa Zahrani, Dr Farhad Atayi, Dr Hamed Mousavi, Dr Arash Raeisinejad, Dr Ghasem Eftekhanri, and Dr Hossein Daheshyar.

Professor at the School of International Relations run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mostafa Zahrani began by stating that the topic can be viewed from two different angles: “If we consider the problem-solving method and the “rational actor”, on this level of analysis we can say that Trump is seeking to contain Iran rather than start a war. As such, his goal is a change of attitude rather than regime change in Iran, and he is using economic pressures to achieve this. But, if we analyze the situation on the “Like-Minded Group” level, it is highly likely that war will break out between the US and Iran; because the objective is regime change and economy is no longer the tool used; it is the introduction to military conflict.”

He said that the first option (rational actor) is more likely, adding: “In these conditions, Iran's policy should be new regionalism and neighborly politics; it must also continue to maintain a policy of looking to the East.”

Zahrani continued: “In the critical method, hostility between Iran and the United States in fundamentally negated; because, it is believed that the US is not an existential threat for Iran. It has even eliminated other existential threats to Iran (the Soviet Union, Saddam, Taleban). Therefore, with such a viewpoint, it is possible that challenges between the two countries can be resolved.”

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The University Professor went on to say: “It is wrong to say that Israel and its lobbies have prevented relations between the US and Iran; because decision-making inside Iran takes priority, in the same way the JCPOA cadaver was sent to the US from Iran. It was not Trump who killed the accord.”

On the other hand, Dr Hamed Mousavi, Tehran University Faculty Member, presented facts and figures in explaining the importance of money and lobbying in American politics to increase tensions between Iran and the US. Contrary to Zahrani, Mousavi believes that Israel has played a major role in US-Iran relations by presenting itself as the front for fighting Iran and terrorism in the region.

Dr Farhad Atayi, Tehran University Faculty Member, gave a background overview of Iran-US relations and concluded that negotiations with Trump are currently not possible; because, there is no consensus inside Iran and this should be considered in the long-term without taking Trump into account.

Dr Arash Raeisinejad, graduate of international relations from the University of Florida, focused mainly on Iran, stating: “There are two main issues in Iran. First, the inability to convert military influence into political and economic achievements, and second a lack of timely recognition for resistance and stability. These two issues are not limited to the past forty years.” He added that we have an incomplete, incoherent understanding of Iran: “Iran’s foreign politics is based on ideologies rather than sustainable factors and this is wrong.”

Raeisinejad presented a strategic proposal for relations between Iran and the United States, saying: “Détente is a gradual process which can take place on two fronts. This can begin by talking about the Yemen. We must also pursue strategic silence, because there is no need to offend Trump’s personality.”

Dr Hossein Daheshyar, Allameh Tabatabaei Faculty Member, spoke next by saying that the two major parties in the US consider Iran to be their enemy, but adopt different paths of dealing with it, adding: “Republicans believe that Iran must be dealt with in a pincer move. But Democrats believe that this should be taken one step at a time.”

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He continued: “The Americans have chosen a faceoff with Iran. This strategy entails the preservation of the prevailing political system in Iran, but devoiding it of the ability to fulfill its promises. That is to say, they intend to challenge its normative credentials.”

Daheshyar reiterated: “Two paths are open to eliminating hostilities. One is tactical considerations and the management of hostilities; and the second one is a change in policy towards a country that we call our enemy.”

He stated that we must rely on our own capacities, adding: “We must turn our back on America and see our own capacities. Our only option is to ignore the United States.”

Photos: Niloofar Shams

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