Analysts talk timing on Iran, U.S. presidential race
April 10, 2012 Leave a comment
By Ari Bildner, Staff Writer
Washington, April 10 – On the eve of fresh international talks with Iran over halting its suspected nuclear weapons program, three top observers of the situation offered predictions for the future of the standoff ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy senior fellows Shibley Telhami, Suzanne Maloney and Michael Doran all said that envoys to the upcoming P5+1 Talks with Iran this weekend should not expect any breakthroughs.
Some western diplomats hold “a fear of exacerbating the relationship with Iran,” Doran said, while leaders of the Islamic Republic are “masters of spinning nothing into negotiations.”
Yet Telhami said the possibility of negotiation with Iran remains, even if the country thought such talks would be risky if it wanted to preempt what it sees as a credible Israeli threat with an attack on the Jewish state.
Maloney said Congressional Republican’s outmaneuvering of President Obama on sanctions weakened the administration and added to pessimism over the upcoming talks.
Yet the panelists were divided on the likelihood of an Israeli attack, even as some Israeli officials have played up that possibility in recent months.
Telhami predicted Israel would more likely than not act before the U.S. presidential election in November, while Doran said that given the Obama administration’s vocal reluctance about military action, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not order a strike.
“It’s hard to decouple nuke issue from Iran’s emnity to Israel,” Telhami said, and such hostility “probably can’t be negotiated away.”
Yet the most likely scenario, Telhami said, was stalemate.
“Before the election, we will be roughly where we are now, but I say this with limited confidence,” he said.