US diplomat and former ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, says time is ripe for Washington to hold talks with Tehran on the Syrian crisis. “I would like to see us or others try to engage the Iranians now on Syria,” Crocker said in an exclusive interview with Al-Monitor on November 17, 2012. Referring to previous Iran-US negotiations on Afghanistan, Crocker said we should “just see if we can find perhaps some of the common ground we found in Afghanistan in 2001.” On October 20, 2012, the New York Times, quoting unnamed US administration officials, claimed that Iran and the United States have reached an agreement to hold direct talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program after the US presidential election in November. Iranian officials have denied the claims saying that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei makes the decision for Iran to enter into bilateral negotiations with the US if expedient.
Crocker warned against the US involvement with the Syrian opposition saying that the US should have better knowledge of who the fighters are before providing them with more than humanitarian aid.“You’ve got to have people on the ground. Maybe Americans, maybe not, who are engaged with these groups and leaders, assessing, measuring, shaping who are they with, who are they against…before you decisively commit,” he said. “Because you could find yourself decisively committed to the outcome that is most injurious to our interests. We simply, as far as I can tell, don’t know enough right now.” TE/SS/AZ