The Gulf war is becoming more and more a political rather than a military battle between iran and iraq. In this context, iran's protracted internal power struggle appears to be one of the biggest obstacles hindering the search for an end to the conflict.
"The war is an integral part of iranian domestic politics," Mansour Farhang, a close aide to President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr and former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, told the Monitor Dec. 15.
Mr. Farhang is deeply concerned about the human cost of the 11-week-old war -- especially the destruction of iranian centers of population in the war zone and the esti mated 1 million internal refugees. And he adds that "the tragedy is that we have reached a stalemate in the domestic power struggle which prevents us from putting an end to the enormous human misery."
Iran was able to afford such a state of affairs in the case of the occupation of the US Embassy in Tehran because Iranians saw that as risking the loss only of international prestige and previously accumulated funds.
"But the war is at the expense of our resources and of human lives," Mr. Farhang says.
One of several aides to the Iranian head of state interviewed by this reporter, Mr. Farhang freely admits that "there is no military solution to this conflict."
Although Iran's presidency cleary has ideas for at least a temporary political resolution of the Gulf War, it is politically hampered by the insistence of the religious fundamentalists, supported by Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in the continuation of hostilities until the townfall of Iraq President Saddam Hussein's Baath regime. (Conversely, one of President Hussein's aims has been to bring down the Khomeini regime.)
Mr. Farhang claims that President Hussein has indicated in conversation with Cuban Foreign Minister Isidoro Malmierca Peoli that he wishes to find a way out of the present conflict. "Hussein wants to know what we will give him in return ," Mr. Farhang says.
Official close to Iran's President be lieve that a solution can be found on the basis of an iraqi withdrawal to the lines agreed upon in the 1975 Algiers accord. "We are ready to work out a face-saving device for Hussein," Mr. Farhang said.
The iranian presidency appears to be prepared to go to great lengths to end the Gulf war on the basis of an Iraqi withdrawal. Its reasoning rests on the following assumptions: