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Heard This Week - 11/30/2006

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- November 30, 2006) This past week, Radio Farda gave listeners an in-depth look at what kind of influence Iran exerts in the Middle East, both through a series of thematically-linked programs and as part of Radio Farda's weekly roundtable program, "Viewpoints".

Radio Farda Examines "A New Middle East"
Radio Farda listeners heard a series of programs titled "A New Middle East: Prospects and Challenges" that considered the role of Iran and the importance in creating stability in Iraq (
>> One of the programs, "Iran And Syria: Rivals Or Allies?" considered the differences that may exist between Syria and Iran as they seek to influence developments in Iraq. Houshang Hassan Yari, a professor of international relations at Canada's Royal Military College, told Radio Farda listeners that Syria is seeking peace in the Middle East and is willing to talk to Israel, while Iran is not. Analyst Alex Vatanka, an editor at Jane's Sentinel Security Assessment, said he believes Iran and Syria are not interested in a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq, because they think that U.S. attention would then shift to Iran.

>> A second program, "Iran And Syria In Iraq: Can They Succeed In Stopping The Violence?" addressed whether Iran and Syria can help calm the situation in Iraq. Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syria-born analyst and Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC told listeners that Iraq is uncontrollable and Syria and Iran cannot bring peace to the country, while Alex Vatanka said he believes Iran and Syria exaggerate the positive impact they can have on the complicated situation in Iraq.

>> Other programs in the series addressed issues such as: "Will Iraq Be The Only Topic Of A Potential Dialogue?", "The Iran-Iraq-Syria Summit: Reaching Common Ground?" and "U.S., Iran, And Syria: What Are The Aims Of A Dialogue?"

"Viewpoints" Considers Regional Stability
On November 24, Radio Farda's "Viewpoints" program gathered several commentators to discuss various aspects of Iran's impact on stability in the Middle East.
Specifically addressing Iran's potential role in creating stability in Iraq, University of Amsterdam international relations professor Turaj Atabaki said that Iran can have a role, provided that U.S.-Iran relations improve. "There is a paradox here," Atabaki told listeners, "on one hand, some American officials promote the idea of overthrowing the Iranian government; on the other hand, they want Iran to cooperate with the U.S. in stabilizing Iraq." Journalist and pre-Revolution Information Minister Dariush Homayoun told Radio Farda listeners, "Iran, Syria and the west will benefit from stability in Iraq, without which conflict will be extended to the whole region."
Concerning Iran's definition of stability, Tarbiat Modaress University geopolitics professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh told listeners that Iran considers the U.S. to be the main reason for insecurity in the region and believes the solution to be the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Iran's negative impact on the region was addressed by Turaj Atabaki of the University of Amsterdam, who told listeners, "The key to this problem is, first, to end the long-lasting crisis between Iran and the U.S. and, second, that Iran should take Israel into account and admit that Israel can be an ally to Iran in the region" (

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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