President Barack Obama recently announced there should be a diplomatic push toward resolving conflict in Iran’s nuclear program. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Obama have reportedly been exchanging letters over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The United States will continue to hope for a peaceful resolve to the issue, but it is determined to prevent Iran from creating any nuclear weapon.
Rouhani said last week, “We (Iran) have never pursued or sought a nuclear bomb and we are not going to do so.” There has been an increased communication between Iran and the U.S. since Rouhani became president in August. Although there are no talks of a face-to-face meeting, we have the opportunity to see the first meeting between the sitting presidents of the U.S. and Iran since 1979.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammed Javad Zarif, will soon be meeting with the Security Council’s six members (U.S., Canada, Russia, United Kingdom, China, and Germany). The meeting has no preconditions, but will revolve around a presumably receptive Iran. The UK has already appeared enthusiastic towards these talks with Iran. This may appear to be the West’s gateway to peace with the Middle East.
Things have a long way to go, to say the least, when it comes to the West’s relations with the Middle East. However, this past month has shown strong progress in relations, and much of it has to be credited to Obama and his diplomatic prowess. The presidency has its share of major faults, but credit has to be given where credit is due. Obama has been an amazing peacekeeper and has used precaution and restraint when it comes to turmoil abroad.
By collaborating with Russia, the US has helped take a step toward a non-aggressive solution to the conflict in Syria. The Syrian government has agreed to turn over all of its chemical weapons by mid-2014. It has yet to be seen as to if the UN Security Council will use force, if necessary, to ensure this deadline. However, it has been clear that the US will not act alone.
There are three crucial things to watch in the coming weeks and even months. The increasing focus of diplomacy, not aggression, of the Obama presidency might lay precedent in new US-Middle East relations and has the potential to greatly influence primaries.
Second, Rouhani’s new presidency may bring great change. He seems to be open and excited to talk to gain some diplomatic high ground for his country.
The third, the United Nations’ 68th General Assembly, leaves a lot looming in the future. What this week’s meeting truly will bring has yet to be known. This is one of the few times a year where all 193 members of the UN will have a say, not just the Security Council. Iran and Syria will certainly be hot-button issues. We can also hope for a meeting between Indian and Pakistani diplomats. This might end the two-year stalemate in peace talks between the two over the Line of Control.
The past few weeks have shown great potential for a step toward a more peaceful world. I would not say I am naïve about this potential, but I am hopeful. There is, perhaps, a breakthrough to the Middle East, possible cooperation in Southeast Asia and, just maybe, a time of enlightened American diplomacy. If the world is looking for a reason to be optimistic, this is it.
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