By Senator Rehman Malik
I wrote an article on 20th June 2018 appreciating the initiative taken by Donald Trump in extending the hand of friendship to North Korea. I titled this article “Can US president replay North Korea peace option to reconcile with Iran?’’, I had appreciated the initiative taken by US President Donald Trump for extending the hand of friendship with North Korea.I had stated ‘’I think President Donald Trump deserves appreciation for his timely and wise move to meet President Kim Jong-un to normalise the situation by initiating good friendly start between the two countries.’’
In the said article, had compared both North Korea and Iran vis-à-vis USA as,‘’ The North Korean situation is different as South Korea despite being the rival had created friendly environment along with other regional stakeholders in the region and declined to take advantage of USA inimical statements”. However, the sanctions on Iran by USA have been fully supported by whole Middle East isolating Iran. Despite the threat of tough economic sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in a defiant response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said that Tehran does not accept and obviously Iran would continue to defy USA. Most importantly, US’ regional allies, particularly Israel, Saudi Arabia and some other countries would not like USA to make any favourable concessions to Iran in present situation.
In my article I had suggested that USA should consider extending hand of friendship to Iran by replicating the dialogue model adopted for North Korea.I also tagged my article to President Donald Trump.
USA, as part of its geo-regional political strategy, would refrain to have an open dialogue with Iran time being as it may annoy its strategic partners in the region.
During the tenure of PPP government I played my role as mediator between Saudi Arabia and Iran and defused tension between both countries when both were at the verge of war, apparently USA was not prepared to make it public about his secret talks with Iran directly or indirectly.
I had assessed on the basis of my solid information that USA had given a false impression to Saudi authorities that there is no dialogue between USA and Iran whereas USA was engaged in a secret dialogue through Switzerland by keeping it hidden from Saudi Arabia. Eventually the world witnessed this engagement resulting into a deal between USA and Iran through Switzerland, which was utter surprise for Saudi Arabia. I remember that when I presented my information to late King Abdullah that USA is secretly engaged in dialogue with Iran and USA was not going to bomb Iran and that USA-Iran will enter into a friendly deal, King Abdullah was upset to hear but he continued in a state of denial. I informed him that secret contact had happened in the past so it may happen again, not very soon though but in the near future as USA always deals matters with multiple options.’’
Now that Donald Trump has offered to meet Iranian President with “no preconditions” and “any time they want”. This notion has created great hope to ensue an environment for dialogue between USA & Iran. However, earlier Iran had given a bit tough and undiplomatic response where an Iranian Major Gen. QassemSoleimani issued a stern threat to President Donald Trump, warning that if the US dares to attack Iran, it will “destroy all that you possess.”He had further said:“As a soldier, it is my duty to respond to your threats. Talk to me, not to the president. It is not in our president’s dignity to respond to you”….“We are near you, where you can’t even imagine,” he said. “Come. We are ready.”
I, in my humble capacity, now would like to advise that instead of refusing USA’s offer, Iran should come forward with workable future plan for the peace in Middle East.USA must understand that the peace in the Middle East can only be done if all the stakeholders within Middle East are brought on one page. There is a need to create understanding amongst Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran or at least they must engage with each other to sort out their issues. Iran should also give up its hard instance against these two countries as dialogue between USA & Iran would be dependent on an overall peace package to be worked out collectively by all the stake holders of Middle East having their grievances against Iran and vice Versa.
I hope this move of President Donald Trump becomes successful and it would be first initiative towards restoring peace in Middle East.
Undoubtedly it is a hill task for Donald Trump but it is doable and here are few proposals which may help in getting them all on the table.
- Donald Trump may first visit Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar taking them into confidence and then visit Iran.
- He must first undertake to identify the core issues and resolve these issues between Middle Eastern countries and Iran.
- Let there be a ministerial commission of all the Middle Eastern Foreign ministers with UNO senior members as observers in this meeting. Secretaryof State of USA may act as coordinator of this ministerial commission.
- In addition DT should visit Iran after all the parameter in place with extensive consultation on this matter.
- Similarly he should hold a ceremony on “ recalling troops from Afghanistan” in Afghanistan where the top authorities of Afghanistan and Pakistan should also be present to make it big show.
This great opportunity with President Donald Trump would not only win over the hearts of Muslim world but this would also solidify the foundation of interfaith harmony sending a strong collective message to the extremists/ terrorists and the enemies of the humanity.
If Donald Trump succeeds to make them sit together and able to have mutual agreement then he would emerge as friend of Muslim Ummah. This would also pave way for the settlement of long outstanding matter of Palestine, which is stained with blood and shows that how the world is criminally ignoring this bloodshed.
President Donald Trump in a dramatic change has given a signal of vacating Afghanistan by pulling his soldiers out. He has also issued instruction to the troops to pull out from scattered areas and concentrated with cities and populated areas meaning thereby it is confined within the cities.
- The war on terror is being fought with the Taliban located in rugged mountains scattered on the Eastern side of Afghanistan. This is basically a technical pull out of troops against Taliban and time will tell if this pull out from scattered area is result of perhaps successful dialogue between USA and Taliban in Qatar last week which was termed successful by both sides.If so, the world would welcome this initiative, as it would be a relief for brothers and sisters of Afghanistan.Pakistan would equally welcome any peace treaty between the Americans and Talban.
The time is not far when USA would be left with no option except to withdraw its troop as the American can afford spending billions of dollars in the war but cannot sustainthe pressure of sending dead bodies to their families in USA from war zones.Hence increased killings of the American soldiers have mounted significant pressure on President Donald Trump to withdraw from Afghanistan.
The act of withdrawal of US forces wouldprove to be a feather in his cap and consequently he would be capable of claiming to be the believer of interfaith harmony.
If he accomplish the above two tasks, indeed, he would then deserve an “international peace award” from UNO. President Trump, do it as it is need of the time.
Good luck to you President Donald Trump and your team.