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A kind New Year message, what next?
The message of President Barack Obama to the people and the authorities of Iran on the occasion of the Iranian New Year symbolizes a new approach regarding the relationship between United States and Iran, after a long period of tension and antagonism. This is undoubtedly a step forward, at least at the rhetorical level.
Concerning the facts, there is no encouraging sign of change as of yet. Sanctions remain in force and have been even tightened recently. It seems that in the US Administration the political vision is lagging behind and resisting to the President's overtures. There is, obviously, a long way ahead to reach a certain degree of compatibility between the respective positions of the two countries.
The Iranian reaction, at the highest political level, to Barack Obama's message is clear. Iran is ready to open a new era of understanding, cooperation, even partnership, with the United States if, and only if, there is a drastic change in the inimical attitude of the previous US Administrations towards Iran. This would mean, the removal of sanctions and the retransfer of the Iranian nuclear file from the UN Security Council to the International Atomic Energy Agency, as a first step. Short of this, it would be hard to imagine the beginning of a process of normalization in the political relations between the two countries. Then we have to wait a few more months to see if the US is ready to accommodate the preconditions formulated by Iran.
The United States is facing a host of problems in the tormented region stretching from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to the Hindu Kush Mountains and the valleys of the Indus River. It is not easy to see how these difficulties could be overcome, at least to some degree, without reaching an agreement with Iran to help reduce the tension in the region and assist the US in bringing its new efforts to fruition. In short, a new and positive US policy towards Iran is a prerequisite for its political success in that part of the world.