Iran President Hassan Rouhani’s telephone conversation with US President Barack Obama was ground breaking. In the past 30 years, the two countries were sworn enemies with anti-American sentiment in Iran rabid, while the feeling in America was reciprocal.
The rapprochement was not universally received as a good move in Iran with a vociferous group feeling totally betrayed; they chanted anti-American slogans at the airport when Rouhani arrived from New York.
But that was expected, considering the deep-rooted hatred inculcated into the Iranian psyche by successive extremist leadership, particularly that of immediate former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The US’s issue with Iran is centred mainly on Iran’s nuclear programme, with the US accusing the Persian Gulf state of being in the process of manufacturing nuclear weapons. But the new Iran president has said he wanted the nuclear impasse solved as quickly as in three months. This showed there is a possibility the two countries could find each other for the benefit of both.
The new air blowing between Tehran and Washington must have been received with alarm in Harare. President Robert Mugabe seems to have lost an ally in Iran.
Ahmadinejad sang from the same hymn book as Mugabe, and he was a key ally in the latter’s fight against America and the West.
In New York last week, while the Iranian president was conciliatory and progressive, President Mugabe was as combative as ever, prompting the US delegation to walk out on him during his address to the UN General Assembly.
The diplomatic tiff between Zimbabwe and the US is not about nuclear weapons, but about an abstract concept called democracy. The extent of the hatred between the Mugabe regime and America is hardly as intractable as that between the latter and Iran. In fact, there are more good things happening between the US and Zimbabwe than bad. Indeed, the US is Zimbabwe’s biggest benefactor by a long shot in terms of humanitarian assistance, in spite of the sanctions mantra that Mugabe is so ready to sing.
The US-Iran overture gives us hope that the US and Zimbabwe might also find each other sooner rather than later.