Obama Stifles Hope for Change on Iran Relations

by Jason Ditz, November 09, 2008

After Tuesday’s election, Iranian citizens and officials hoped that President-elect Barack Obama’s victory was the beginning of a radical shift in US foreign policy with respect to Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad offered a congratulatory statement to Obama, while Iranian MPs displayed an openness to the first significant improvement in relations between the two nations since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

And there was some cause for hope: Obama spent much of the presidential primaries chiding the Bush Administration for avoiding direct talks with Iran, and cautioned against talking about launching attacks on Iran.

But any hopes for major changes in the American stance toward Iran died pretty quickly when Obama publicly condemned the Iranian government, accusing them of developing a nuclear weapon and vowing an international effort against them, which he would not elaborate on until he takes over the White House in January.

The condemnation has sown pessimism in Iran, and has cost President Ahmadinejad politically as he has come under public attack, oddly from the same reformist faction that has long called for reconciliation with the US, for overstepping his station in offering a hand to the incoming US administration. Its a limb on which the Iranian President is unlikely to go out again.

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