This coming Thursday, February 21st at 7PM, I will be speaking with Reza Firouzbakht of National Iranian American Council and Dick Blakney, a Northwest peace activist. Our topic will be Iran: Nuclear Impasse and Prospect for War at Skinner Auditorium of St. Mark’s Cathedral on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Relations between Iran and the west are among the most volatile in the world. The chance that miscalculation could lead to escalation and regional war is very real.
Hawks advocate regime change. Israel’s prime minister rattles the sabers of war.
Recent developments have kept Iran and the nuclear crisis at the top of the news headlines. Sen. Chuck Hagel’s nomination to be defense secretary is being opposed by GOP senators in part because of his past opposition to Iran sanctions. After Vice President Biden floated the idea of bilateral U.S.-Iran talks, the prospect was unfortunately shot down by the Ayatollah Khamenei himself.
The U.S. continues to advocate punishing sanctions as one of the few arrows in its quiver to bring Iran to heel. While Iran, which does suffer from sanctions, resists and appears not to give an inch in return. The P5+1 nuclear talks have yielded very little fruit so far.
Iran’s influence in the region is in a particularly precarious state with the imminent demise of one of its key allies, Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Given the key role that country plays as a transshipment point for Iranian arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Israel’s increasingly aggressive attacks against such weapons convoys, including air strikes against Syrian targets–it appears this is a particularly dangerous struggle.
Next month, Pres. Obama will travel to Israel for his first visit as president. Israeli media have said virtually the only thing on his agenda involves telling Israel and its prime minister not to attack Iran. Bibi Netanyahu, known for his deep animosity toward Obama, is a most recalcitrant partner. He tried to go to war in 2010 but was stopped by his security and military chiefs, who argued vehemently against it.
Now that Bibi has won a new term and his Likud party has rid itself of some of its most powerful moderate figures, is this the time Bibi will choose to go on the attack? If he does, can the U.S. stay out of it? Will Barack Obama’s plan to wind down Middle Eastern wars fall prey to the manipulations of an Israeli leader who needs military conflict against his neighbors to create social cohesion at home?
I urge you to join us for a discussion on this fateful topic that will affect not just the Middle East, but our own nation as well. We gather to affirm that negotiations are the only path to resolve the conflict with Iran. Military confrontation and acts of terror like assassinations and cyber-terror will fail.
Reza Firouzbakht: President, WA State chapter of the National Iranian-American Council. He is an international business consultant and Senior Manager of Accenture’s Strategy Consulting practice. Reza was born in Iran and emigrated in 1983. He has a BA and MBA from the University of Chicago.
Richard Silverstein: Author of the Tikun Olam blog, which focuses on Israel-Iran relations, Israel’s democracy and national security issues.
Dick Blakney: former president of the United Nations Association Greater Seattle chapter. He is a retired international health specialist who founded hospitals and developed health care delivery systems in Borneo, Hong Kong, Guyana and Liberia. For the past six years he has focused on resolving the conflict with Iran through peaceful negotiation. He compiles Iran Update.
Sponsor: St. Mark’s Mideast Focus Ministry
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/522341811120947/