Thursday, April 03, 2008

Iran's Role in Iraq Discussed During SFRC Hearing

Although the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not yet held any hearings specifically on Iran yet this year, Iran’s role in Iraq came up in an SFRC hearing on April 2 entitled, “IRAQ AFTER THE SURGE: POLITICAL PROSPECTS” as part of series of hearings being held in preparation for hearings next week with General David Petreaus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on the surge’s progress. During the hearing, Chairman Joseph Biden questioned what the surge has accomplished and stressed the need for a new approach. He said, “I just think that we need a diplomatic surge, we need to engage major - other major powers, Iraq's neighbors and the UN in the search for a solution which this administration has utterly neglected.”

In an article for Middle East Online today, several analysts argued that the U.S. is stuck in rut trying isolate Iran instead of engaging the country. Suzanne Maloney, a former Bush administration official from the State Department and now a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution said: "There is a pragmatic strategic interest on the part of the US in engaging with the Iranians because they are an inevitable part of both the problem and the solution in Iraq.” She also said that “although the United States has had intermittent low-level talks with Iran, it missed a chance to fully engage with Tehran when its supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei made an unprecedented call for talks in 2006. The United States at the time was focused on rallying the international community into isolating Iran over its disputed nuclear program.” She also “suspects Iran will now just wait for the next US administration to consider any move toward real dialogue.”

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