An audience of more than two dozen braved the bitter cold on Wednesday 29 January to hear Allen Keiswetter speak on “Iran: Prospects for the Nuclear Negotiations’ at the Pulcinella Restaurant in McLean. A retired Senior Foreign Service Officer, Keiswetter was the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs. This is the third time he has been a featured speaker at our Forums. The negotiations are designed to give the P5+1 nations (US, China, France, UK, Russia, and Germany) verifiable assurances that Iran is halting its nuclear enrichment program and greatly reducing its nuclear infrastructure. The fact that Iran and the P5+1 nations have even agreed to the talks at this time stems from improved atmospherics following three elections: Obama’s re-election to the US presidency in 2012, Ahmadinejad’s loss of the Iranian Presidency in 2013, and Hassan Rouhani’s election to be President of Iran in 2013. Rouhani, fluent in English, holds a PhD in Law from a Glasgow University, and has the blessing of the Supreme Leader to proceed with the negotiations. While Iran’s stance in the nuclear negotiations is controlled by President Rouhani, Iran’s involvement in Syria is executed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Keiswetter stressed that the Supreme Leader has the last say in all of Iran’s foreign policy matters. Kesiwetter pointed out that the United States enjoys great popular support in Tehran. He said that the best impetus for successful negotiations is to convince the Iranian people thatthey will be better off with an agreement than without. If negotiations fail, the stringent Western-imposed sanctions will continue to restrict the Iranian economy and deny its citizenry much needed medical supplies and other consumer goods. Keiswetter gives the negotiations a 50/50 chance of success, but quipped that their chance of success is realistically probably less than that.
BIO: Allen Keiswetter, a retired Senior Foreign Service Officer, is a Scholar at the Middle East Institute, Senior Consultant at C&O Resources and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland. He has taught courses on Islam and on the Middle East at the National War College and the National Defense Intelligence College. He served as the Senior Advisor on the Middle East to the US Delegation to the General Assembly. In his 36 years at the Department of State, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Director of Arabian Peninsula Affairs in the Near East Bureau and Director of the Office of Intelligence Liaison in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. He also served as NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs in Brussels. While Director of Regional Affairs in the Near East Bureau, he chaired the Middle East Peace Process Multilateral Working Group on Water Resources. Previously, he held posts as Political Counselor in the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen. He also served at the US Embassies in Tunis, Khartoum, Baghdad, and Beirut.
Education: AB at Dartmouth College; Certificate at Johns Hopkins School of International Studies; MPA at Harvard University; speaks French and Arabic
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