by Patrick Seale:
Today, there is a glaring contrast between Obama’s words of conciliation addressed to Tehran and the continued attempts by U.S. Treasury officials -- Stuart Levey prominent among them -- to broaden financial sanctions against Iran, starve its foreign trade of finance, and force international banks to suspend all business with Iranian banks. As recently as this month, the U.S. blacklisted eleven companies linked to Iran’s Bank Melli.
In addition, Dennis Ross, the recently appointed Obama Administration’s point-man on Iran, has long been closely associated with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a think-tank dedicated to influencing America’s Middle East policy in a pro-Israeli direction. WINEP continues to campaign stridently for sanctions against Iran, and for military action if sanctions fail.
Obama will need to resolve these contradictions if he is to be heard in Tehran, and if the dialogue he is seeking is not to be sabotaged by officials and special interests in his own government.
In any event, these are early days. No one yet knows what the United States may offer Iran in exchange for a freeze of its nuclear programme, or what might be the terms of a grand bargain between Washington and Tehran, if the coming tentative dialogue ever blossoms into a real and sustained negotiation.