1 NOVEMBER 2013
"Have a nice day," Mr. Rouhani said in English while Mr. Obama tried a Persian farewell: "Khoda hafez." Mamnoun, we'll add. Thanks for a peaceful
opening; however fragile, tentative or even illusory.
There are many powers for or against even that usually normal, civilized move within the United States and Iran, let alone other intrigued
or disaffected countries. As the conversation happened through the cell phone of Ambassador Khazaee in New York, a veteran diplomat wondered "How many do
you think were listening in?!"
Practical Iranians at the bazaar took it like they would a chat between Hassan and Hussein, names of both sons of the most revered Ali Bin Abi Talib.
What next, they would wonder?
On similar occasions, experienced observers would try to search the backchannels that made it happen. When Presidents Clinton and Khatami almost
arrived at a handshake a decade ago (both listened and applauded each other's speech, but it was Comandante Fidel Castro who beat the Iranian to the
extended hand!), several backchannels were mentioned from Kofi Annan (who made a genuine almost successful effort) to Christiane Amanpour (who got her
TV interviews, though President Rouhani was much shrewder than the gracious intellectual Sayyed he eventually succeeded). Actually, several backchannels
helped the earlier, unsuccessful enterprise despite very influential backing. Yet the current U.S. - Iranian government moves are quite different
than the earlier attempts.
If anything, now is the time for more open communications than secret backchannels. Both Presidents are more familiar with the other country's
intricate politics. Secretary of State Kerry needs no introduction to Persian culture. His daughter Vanessa, a medical doctor, is married to one of
the most highly regarded Iranian-American medical figures, Dr. (Brian) Vala Nahed (of Los Angeles). Similarly, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs
Javad Zarif studied in the U.S. and served three times at the mission of Iran to the U.N. in New York, the last time as Permanent Representative.
Regarding the U.N., which played an active and positive role since the hostage crisis, the senior official currently overseeing sensitive
political affairs is Jeffrey Feltman, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Mid-East Affairs. As Ambassador Feltman would agree, the Iranian
first received him (during an initial visit with the Secretary General to attend the Islamic Conference) while keeping in mind his role as former envoy
in Lebanon. Yet during his second, more recent visit on his own, he apparently was treated fully as a U.N. envoy. That may help both open diplomacy
and discard backchannels. In that area, the positive role of the Sultan of Oman, a neighbor of Iran and ally of the U.S. -- could not be
Countries and forces, suspicious of Iran's dealings will certainly advance their views as forceful as possible. Same with those supporting
it, though with less vehemence. But in the final result, it is mainly up to the U.S. and Iran governments to explore each other's readiness to
move forward, avert any "moshkeli," seriously and effectively, within the guidelines of U.N. resolution and principles.
"Khoda hafez" diplomacy is in the initial stage. As the U.N. is an organization of peace, we hope it will fly. But it needs its TWO wings.
Related: What's the 2,700-Year-Old Gift the U.S. Reportedly Gave Iran's President That's Worth Over $1,000,000?
The Obama administration last week gave Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a 2,700-year-old Persian artifact reportedly worth more than
$1 million, according to various media reports.
It's reportedly worth more than one million dollars, AFP reports.
The cup was reportedly found in a cave in Iran and later confiscated by the U.S. after an arts dealer tried to smuggle it into the country, the
State Department said.