Analysis: Rice presses for a US diplomatic presence in Tehran
debkafile‘s Washington sources, report that by the dramatic step of establishing a US interests section in Tehran, 27 years after relations were severed with the Revolutionary Republic, the Bush administration would hope to wash its hands of any Israeli plan to strike Iran’s nuclear sites this year.
Behind the step are US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and her former deputy Nicholas Burns; its disclosure to the American media attests to White House backing.
The step slots into the American presidential campaign by distancing President George W. Bush from conservative elements, whose thinking was encapsulated by Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard when he told Fox News Sunday, June 22: “If President Bush foresees the likelihood of an Obama election, he may decide to go ahead with such an attack. However, if the President thinks Sen. McCain will be the winner, he would leave the Iranian situation for President McCain to handle.” This view was endorsed by Daniel Pipes, a Middle East expert and member of the conservative Hoover Institution.
Democratic Barack Obama has increased his margin against the Republican John McCain by 15 percent.
Regarding the likelihood of an Israeli go-it-alone attack on Iran, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said in the same broadcast:
“I think if they [Israel] are to do anything, the most likely period is after our elections and before the inauguration of the next President. I don’t think they will do anything before our election because they don’t want to affect it.”
Sunday, debkafile reported the estimate of Israeli intelligence and military circles that the extension of Mossad director Meir Dagan’s tenure for another year up to the end of 2009 points to a probable Israeli military action against Iran this year before the Bush presidency runs out.
The unsolicited statement by Condoleezza Rice came next on Monday, June 23. On her way to a conference in Berlin of donors to the Palestinian Civil Police Force, she spoke of opening a US interests section in Tehran similar to the one maintained in Cuba. In so saying, she broke away sharply from the international drive led by the Bush administration to isolate Iran for refusing to give up uranium enrichment.
She said: “We do have the station in Dubai where [Iranians] can get visas, but we know that it’s difficult for Iranians sometimes to get to Dubai. We want more Iranians visiting the United States. We are determined to find ways to reach out to the Iranian people.”
Middle East peace negotiators, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian ex-prime minister Ahmed Qureia are attending the Berlin conference.
Since the 1979 siege of the US embassy in Tehran by revolutionary zealots, Washington has been represented in Tehran by the Swiss embassy. This arrangement has become untenable since Switzerland signed a bi gas deal with Iran, in breach US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.