Sunday, April 08, 2007

Time-out ,Iranian style

In some sports, a team’s coach can call for a time-out to temporarily stop the game. Even in sports that do not allow for time-outs, players and coaches revert to every possible trick to sometimes stop the game, usually when the game’s momentum seems to be going the wrong way, or when the fear of loss takes hold of players. In politics too, time-outs are sometimes necessary to slow down the flow of events and provide the chance for reorganizing and reinventing the plans of action. And this is exactly what the Iranian guards did by arresting fifteen British sailors in the midst of the Nowruz holidays [Nowruz marks the beginning of the new Iranian year].

In reality, all of the hopes that had been building up in the two months after the passage of Resolution 1373 were shattered by the unity of permanent and non-permanent Security Council members, which led to the passage of a second resolution against Iran. By creating a consensus, albeit a fragile one, the American diplomatic machine scored a victory for its side, while the Iranian diplomatic machine failed to create a rift in the Security Council, despite all of its promises and attempts.

The first step is to accept the clear defeat of the kind of foreign policy that came to the fore after the coming to power of the new administration in Iran. The series of U.N. resolutions and the reactions of others in the Muslim world, as well as in Europe and Asia, showed that Iran cannot advance its interests through such methods, and that the cost of following such policies are perhaps more than their advantages. Now, by accepting the reality, one can change the game-plan and maneuver diligently to continue the game from a different angel. Diplomacy is the art of making the impossible possible. Only those who believe in holy methods deprive themselves of the compromising and flexible nature of diplomacy.

In the opening days of spring, and in the midst of all of the hot action, the world’s media networks were busy reporting on and analyzing the arrest of British sailors in the Persian Gulf. This provided a breathing space for Iran’s foreign policy makers, as it forced the world’s major publications to focus on Tehran and its decisions, rather than on the Security Council and its resolutions. If it were not for the mistake of broadcasting the sailors’ confession on television – which occurred 3 times – one could have concluded that the world’s public opinion got nothing out of the sailor hostage crisis other than a show of Iran’s power and resolution.

Recalling the eight year long war with Iraq, the hostage crisis of the 1980s, and many more events, the world now knows that the Iranians are very skilled in creating special circumstances! But seldom do they capitalize on these. When the crises over capturing the British sailors began to continue, many became worried about whether the Iranian authorities had forgotten, once again, to use this time-out to their own benefit. But the release of these hostages of their captivity showed that, even if there are some who forget about the purpose of a time-out, there are many wise ones in the world who will remind them of it.