I wrote yesterday that the ramifications of Iran’s “scoop” - downing the US drone (”Beast of Kandahar”) - are bound to spread. President Barack Obama has now broken silence, revealing, “We’ve asked for it back - we’ll see how the Iranians respond.” This is public diplomacy at its very best. The dozen words will be keenly analysed not only in Tehran but in many world capitals, especially Beijing and Moscow.
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta promptly stepped in to cover for Obama, saying he won’t expect Tehran to heed the US demarche. Interestingly, Panetta spoke of US having made a “request” rather than a demand, which leaves leeway to backtrack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also carefully used the word “request”
- and that too, in the presence of visiting British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
These are early days, but something is probably cooking by way of the commencement of a diplomatic pretext for the US to “constructively engage” the Iranian leadership. What strengthens my suspicion is the kind of editorial comment WaPo offered
, finding fault with Obama for being “soft” toward Iran. US-Iran standoff has a whole history of histrionics. Always analyse them contextually and always the Israeli Lobby is prowling in the shade when the limelight falls on Iran.
Of course, it can’t be that the one piece of drone itself is any longer the issue - although, it is huge loss of military technology and intelligence
relating to US codes. The US would know that Iranian scientists and experts would have been all over the captured drone by now. Washington could’t have overlooked, either, that both Russia and China would love to take a good look at the “Beast of Kandahar’. Xinhua is closely trailing
the developing story.
The head of Iranian National Security Council Saeed Jalili paid a quiet visit to Moscow. Russian DFM Sergey Ryabkov had the Chinese ambassador Li Hui calling on him yesterday, and according to the Russian account, the two diplomats “held a thorough exchange of views on a number of international and regional issues with emphasis on the situation in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, including the situation surrounding Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the problem of ensuring strategic stability”.
Hmm. That was a loaded Russian-Chinese conversation, wasn’t it? Indeed, it followed Jalili’s visit to Moscow. Now, finally, take a good close look at the speech made by Gen. Martin Dempsey
, chairman of US joint chiefs of staff last Friday at the Atlantic Council in Washington. Surely, Dempsey spoke with the Beast of Kandahar filling up his thoughts.
I can’t be faulted for being impetuous while saying that US RQ-179 may well turn out to be something like the U-2 incident in 1960
, which was a watershed event in the US-Soviet cold-war confrontation, with the two sides ultimately realising the high importance of avoiding flashpoints and by mutual understanding demarcating the “red lines” they should never cross under any eventuality in the cold war setting. After all, Iran too has its legitimate grievances
against the US.