03/20/2009, 00.00
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Obama opens to Iran, reassures Arab world, says Italian scholar

The US president’s message to Iran is “is a symbolically important communication act” with no new content. Tehran must now respond. White House wants changes to Iran’s foreign policy. Obama speaks to Iran’s political establishment, asking for a “signal” which he will heed.
Rome (AsiaNews) – “It is a symbolically important communication act” as well as a “message to the Arab world that America is not going to deal with Iran at any cost,” said Prof  Vittorio Emanuele Parsi, of Milan’s Università Cattolica, as he commented a video-message by Barak Obama. In his address “to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” the US leader does not say anything new but “he does indicate a willingness to talk that Iranians might not be able to respond to easily.”

In his message on the occasion of Nowruz, the Iranian News Year, the US president talks about “the promise of a new day” and a “new opportunity”, saying that he wants to “speak clearly to Iran's leaders” and ask them for an “engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”

“Obama’s message is simple. He is telling Iran that if it acts responsibly in the region the United States is willing to take into consideration its corresponding interests,” Parsi explained.

The question now is whether and how Iranian leaders can respond to the US proposal for a “new beginning” in their mutual relations.

“In essence Iran has to show that it is willing to stop its nuclear programme and end its attempts to sink the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These are difficult issues,” Prof Parsi added.

The fact that the message is being released ahead of Iran’s June presidential elections can also be read in another way.

“Iran’s internal political landscape is extremely composite and diversified. There are many contrasting views, but this variety is not reflected in its foreign policy. So Obama is telling Iranians: ‘Give us a signal and we shall heed it.’ Actually what the US administration is trying to do is find the fault lines in Iranian politics, see that is strong and who is weak, telling everyone that what counts for him is Iran’s foreign policy.”

In addition to acknowledging Iran’s rights and responsibilities, Obama’s message is also meant for other countries in the region.

According to Professor Parsi, the US president’s message is designed in fact “to reassure the Arab world that the United States will not deal with Iran at any cost,” and to show that the goal of the White House is not only “Israel’s security” but the stability of the entire Middle East.”

The president is also telling Saudi Arabia, who said that “its peace proposal will not be there forever,” that the United States “will not sacrifice its interests in order to solve the Iran question.”

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