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War in the Persian Gulf

October 04, 1987

Shireen Hunter's article (Op-Ed Page, Sept. 27) urges the U.S. to reduce tensions in the Persian Gulf. Her recommendation follows a unique analysis of events in that region.

Hunter suggests that the Iranians are ready for peace as soon as Iraqi blame for the war is internationally recognized. But the issue is less one of assigning guilt and whether that cease fire is in situ or along pre-war borders. The answer is not discernible in Iran's "more flexible stand."

Hunter seems to downplay Iran's culpability in the gulf crisis because it has chosen the "indirect action of laying mines." Yet it is unclear how the indiscriminate killing of merchant seamen on international waters is less odious than the Iraqi "tanker war," or the U.S. naval presence.

Also questionable is the threat of "heavy political damage" to U.S. interests in the Islamic world if there are further American-Iranian clashes. Since the riots in Mecca it may be hard to find much sympathy for Iran in Arabic Islam. Many states with indigenous fundamentalist movements--e.g., Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Turkey--might not mind a blow to Iranian prestige.

Finally, there is Hunter's implication that the U.S. attack on the Iranian mine-laying ship "ended (Iranian President) Ali Khamenei's chance for promoting Iran's point of view on the war." Iran's point of view is made clear by its mining of international waters on the day prior to Khamenei's speech to the United Nations.

GREGORY STAPLES

Costa Mesa

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