With the situation in Iran changing day to day and minute to minute, U.S. officials in the Obama administration have reiterated their continued intention to engage Iran again and again. But, even as they say they will let the "dust" settle in Iran first, their steadfastness belies a certitude that the changing face of Iran will be ready for U.S. engagement any time soon.
The protests and government crackdowns are starting to raise big questions for Iranians and their leadership -- even gentle questioning about the future of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And there is a pressing time frame being touted by Iran hawks in the U.S. and the right wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. I address some of the issues here at IPS:
WASHINGTON, Jun 18 (IPS) - As uncertainty persists about the results of the Iranian election last Friday, the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama remains quiet on just exactly what the next tack will be on engaging the Islamic Republic, which experts say is entering a new and unknown period in its history.
Because incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who won the poll amid allegations of fraudulent results, his principal challenger Mir Hossein Moussavi, and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei all publicly support a peaceful Iranian nuclear programme, the stance of the Iranian government was never likely to change much on the issue -- a crucial one to the West -- irrespective of who won the election.
Obama had hoped to engage the government of the winner on nuclear matters by the end of the year. He was reportedly planning to aim much of the diplomacy at Khamenei, who has final say on governmental matters, including foreign policy.
But the protracted wrangling over the election is likely to complicate any effort to meaningfully engage on the issue.