News Release

* U.S. vs. Iran? * Otto Reich

KAVEH EHSANI
A contributing editor for Middle East Report and for Goft-o-Gu (“Dialogue” in Farsi), Ehsani — who is writing a book on Iran — said today: “A stable Afghanistan is in Iran’s interest. Obviously, Iran is concerned about undue influence that other powers like the U.S., Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Russians, may exercise over the shaping of Afghanistan. It has been precisely this kind of external unprincipled interference that has destabilized and reduced Afghanistan to its present state. Iran has also been guilty of interference there in the past. But it has suffered seriously as a result of the situation of its neighbor. Remember that for two decades Iran has had to host 2 to 2.5 million refugees from Afghanistan, without any financial help from the international community. It has suffered from a tremendous drug trafficking problem and armed cross-border raids and constant instability from its eastern neighbor. Nor does Iran, quite reasonably, want to see a hostile military presence on its eastern border in the shape of U.S. troops or their allies, as it finds such presence on its southern border in the Persian Gulf already quite threatening. The claim that Al-Qaeda fighters are seeking refuge in Iran seems to be quite farfetched. It is difficult to believe George Bush’s advisors and informers do not know that doctrinally Al-Qaeda finds Shiite Iran [to be] the very embodiment of the subversion of true Islam, and as such more evil than the United States itself! Iran is concerned that the U.S. is acting in Afghanistan in a way that seems to blatantly ignore and even threaten the legitimate strategic concerns of its neighbors. The appointment of someone with as questionable credentials as Zalmay Khalilzad — a former oil lobbyist for Unocal, a vocal critic of Iran and a former public supporter of Taliban — as the current U.S. envoy to Kabul has certainly not escaped the attention of the Iranians and cannot be seen as a reassuring move toward stabilizing Afghanistan by inviting the constructive participation of its neighbors.”
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STEPHEN ZUNES
Associate professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and the Middle East editor of the Foreign Policy in Focus Project, Zunes is available for interviews about Iran and other countries in the Middle East.
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WILLIAM GOODFELLOW
Executive director of the Center for International Policy, Goodfellow said today: “To circumvent Senate opposition to Otto Reich’s long-stalled nomination as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, the White House seems poised to give Reich a recess appointment. This procedure, intended for emergency appointments that cannot wait until Congress returns, would be a blatant abuse of power by the president and would make a mockery of the advise and consent provision of the Constitution. The administration has been trying to shift the focus away from Reich’s record by blaming the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for not scheduling a hearing for Mr. Reich. The real reason for the delay, however, is the refusal of the administration to respond to the committee’s requests for documents relating to Mr. Reich’s career, even such basic documents as his personnel file from his earlier tenure at the State Department….”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; Norman Solomon, (415) 552-5378