Monday, April 27, 2009

Poland thinks Iran’s role in Iraq has been “positive”?


Here’s a strange one from the Iranian Fars news agency, reporting on the visit to Tehran at the weekend of Poland’s deputy foreign minister, Jacek Naider. He met with the Iranian foreign minister, then with his counterpart:

The Polish official […] held talks with Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Mehdi Safari in which he said Iran's role in Afghanistan and Iraq is positive and constructive.

Um...If Naider did say that - and a call to the Foreign Ministry in Warsaw today seemed to indicate that he did: or, at least, they found nothing strange in the remark - then I wonder what they make of that in Washington, which constantly accuses Tehran of funding the Shia militants that have given the US so much trouble since they invaded Iraq in 2003.

And Afghanistan? Nobody would suggest that Iranians support the Taliban. In fact, Iran has long been disgusted by Pakistan’s kid gloves approach to them, both when they were in power in Afghanistan and since they took to the mountains after the US invaded with the help of the Northern Alliance.

But Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - the man, lest we not forget, whose presence at a recent UN conference was the official reason why Poland refused to go to the anti-racism shindig - paid a visit to Kabul last week. He said the problems in Afghanistan were caused by foreign “colonial forces” who had destabilised the region. One of those foreign forces is, of course, Poland.

So the current Polish love-in with Iran is rather odd. But maybe not.

Warsaw signed a preliminary deal with the Tehran government last year to gain access to Iran’s rich gas and oil deposits. Iran could be part of the Polish government’s long term plan to wean itself off its dependency on Russian gas.

The US would not take too kindly to any significant trade between Poland and Iran, however - as long as Tehran pursues its nuclear ambitions, be they peaceful or not.

Which brings us to the anti-missile shield, planned to be situated in Poland and the Czech Republic. The official reason for the plan, says Washington, is to protect the US’s Nato allies against attack from rogue states - meaning places like…Iran!

Whatever is going on here - diplomacy is a strange art at the best of times, but this story is so complicated it makes my brain hurt - there is one thing that Poland’s deputy foreign minister said in Tehran at the weekend that we can all agree on: Iran is so important to the region that solving problems without them is simply impossible.

12 comments:

keith said...

Always remember todays enemy will be tommorrows allie.

But dont tell the masses as it may make the next war for freedom more difficult to sell!

Renegade Eye said...

Iran is against immediate withdrawal of the US from Iraq. They are afraid of the war spilling over and are very happy Maliki is in power. They support Maliki over Sadr who is more of a nationalist than Maliki. Iran will support which ever one is stronger.

As you said Iran doesn't like the Taliban.

Ahmadinejad is campaigning for president. What he says counts little.

The US needs Iran and Syria's help, in order to "redeploy" from Iraq. Opening up relations with Iran, started under Bush.

jannowak57 said...

It don’t think it’s too strange, Poland has tried to keep the door open with the Iranians for a long time while being clear about it’s position with respect to Israel. Also the missile shield is something where Polish motivations are clear, it isn’t an Iranian threat. But rather an avenue for securing related concessions with respect to enhancing security guarantees in the event of a potential threat should it materialize from the east. I think the Iranians understand this and find increased interaction useful.

The US will not be getting too difficult about this since dialogue is the flavour of the month in the Obama administration. The US will be highly restrained in its foreign policy as it can ill afford any new foreign adventures with the economy in such a mess. I see the US trying to reduce the potential for conflict rather than actually solving or intervening in any situations; simply to meet the imperative of we have no money so therefore we won’t act.

beatroot said...

I agree Obama is trying his new 'smart power' approach and, rightly in my opinion, trying to bring nations into the diplomatic loop.

But the claim that Iran has been "positive and constructive" in Iraq - whatever you think about that dumb invasion and occupation - is ...very a very odd thing to say.

varus said...

Although i agree that weaning itsel off Russian gas is a good idea, is Iran the right country to help? Surley Iran will then be in a position to influnce Poland, just as Russia is now.

In terms of Iranian help. It is indeisputable that Iranian weapons, and even Iraining personnel were and are in Iraq, and so this is extremly bizzarre.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry your pretty little heads about it. At least, not until they reintroduce the draft!

jannowak57 said...

beatroot said... “very a very odd thing to say.”

He’s a diplomat its what Iranians wanted to hear besides we’re not in Iraq anymore so who cares?

The 'smart power' approach needs to yield results not just a sound bite on the prime time news and we have yet to see a result.

Varus said... “Iran will then be in a position to influnce Poland”

Firstly Iran is not in the position to effect Poland’s geopolitical position, Iran at best can only hope to be a regional power. When it comes to energy there aren’t that many countries to pick from.

heat_seeker said...

“Iran will then be in a position to influnce Poland” - If I were in Poland I would sure hope for Iran influencing Poland! The heavy-duty Polish cuisine could use infusion of delicious Persian food.. and the pastries... really to die for!!! Not to mention the Persian chicks.. ok.. so they can be sometimes little bossy.. it's not like polish men are not used to obnoxious bossy women with an overblown sense of entitlement, anyway.. (sorry Mom!...) ;)

ge'ez said...

Jeez, I always got the impression it was the other way around.

heat_seeker said...

ok guys... the discussion about politics is not moving along very briskly... at all.. How 'bout food?? Try this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_cuisine

beatroot said...

I knew a 'persian' woman from Wimbledon - as in tennis - once. Oh, my...gorgeous...and she put flowers in her rice!

heat_seeker said...

Check out the lead actress on "Life" (TV show), Sarah Shahi - she's of Persian descent and a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader... need I say more...?