Iran needs to be “part of the solution”, says Durham University expert
(29 January 2009)
Diplomatic engagement with Iran is increasingly necessary as the country’s global strategic importance grows, expert says.
As the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution (Sunday, February 1), approaches Dr Reza Molavi, said Iran needed to “be part of the solution”, particularly in relation to meeting the world’s energy needs.
February 1, 1979, saw the return of the exiled Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran, sparking the revolution that established the current Islamic Republic.
Dr Molavi, Executive Director of the Centre for Iranian Studies, at Durham University, said: “Although the Iranian Revolution happened 30 years ago its effects are still being felt today as Iran becomes of increasing strategic importance on both the Middle East and World stage.
“Iran’s importance has been recognised by President Barack Obama with the announcement that the USA would look at engaging in direct diplomacy with Iran.
“We need to make Iran part of the solution. We cannot afford to continue with an artificially motivated and constructed policy of containment.
“Importantly Iran has vast reserves of oil and gas which could help meet the world’s current energy needs.
“If the European Union genuinely wants to reduce its reliance on Russian energy then it must approach the issue pragmatically, not ideologically.
“If future energy demands are to be met we need to increase investment. We cannot rely on aged oil fields. Investment needs to extend to Iran’s oil and gas resources and infrastructure.”
Dr Molavi said that Iran had gone through turbulent times in the 30 years since the revolution.
He said: “Since the early days of the revolution and the ascendance of the clergy to the seat of power, Iran has seen eight years of brutal war with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, revolutionary purges, the American hostage crisis, the infamous Salman Rushdie fatwa and cultural revolution.
“The country has also drawn widespread criticism of its nuclear programme and has incurred sanctions and international isolation.
“However it has also witnessed the rapid expansion of civil society, the institution of local government and the participation of women en masse in Iranian society. Moreover 70 per cent of Iran’s population are under the age of 30 and with every passing day they are demanding more from their leaders.”