In an interview with USA Today, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the once and future president of Iran, said the US and Iran have more common ground than differences. Running for a return to the Iranian presidency, Rafsanjani was clearly speaking to the White House through the press.
If he’s sincere and he returns to power, this could be a major victory for Bush’s foreign policy in the Middle East. Bringing a moderate or liberal government to Iran is not Rafsanjani’s goal, for sure, but, like Gorbechev found in the Soviet Union, any reform could spin out of control.
Rafsanjani’s demand that the US unfreeze the billions of Iranian assets that the Carter adminstration locked up in 1979 gives reason to doubt. Yet the rest of the interview gives reason for hope. Perhaps, like Libya, Iran’s leaders realize that the United States will soon be relieved of the burden in Iraq and might turn its freedom-loving eye east. The US military is all the incentive wise dictators need to reform.
Let’s hope Iran follows Libya’s lead.