Iran appears to be coming out of a long period of isolation and sanctions imposed by Western nations. Yet, it is still not completely out of the woods. The international community had to wait until June 30 for the final deal to be put into place. The framework of the nuclear deal reached between the U.S.-led P5+1 members on one side and Iran on the other could become another landmark statement of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, much like the domestic health policy popularly known as Obamacare. It opens the possibility of redefining international relations strategically the way Nixon’s trip to China did during 1970s.
The U.S.-Iran relationship was consigned to the cold storage after the overthrow of the government of Shah of Iran due to popular disenchantment, followed by Islamic revolution in Iran and subsequent taking of American hostages during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The agreement, signed in Lausanne, Switzerland, which allowed Iran to retain and operate centrifugal plants, albeit on a much smaller scale, could be the first step in the warming of the Iran’s relationship with other countries. This negotiation could lead to an open international trade agreement, instead of dealings conducted in a clandestine manner. This nuclear deal virtually accepts Iran as a key player in the Western region of Asia, and in the process reduces Saudi Arabia’s clout.
Despite vehement opposition offered by Israel and Saudi Arabia, the consequence of being dwarfed politically by Western nations in general and the U.S. in particular has miffed them to the core. They have begun jockeying to undo the damage the nuclear deal has done to their prestige. However, the relentless ground attacks, aerial bombings, rocket firings, murders, beheadings, looting, and burnings among bitterly opposed Shia versus Sunni forces in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq, as well as the rise of borderless extremist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Boko Haram in Nigeria, and even al-Shabaab (in the nearby Somalia-Kenya border region), etc. point to the abject failure of erstwhile tactics of balancing political aspirations among the countries in the Western region of Asia and Northern Africa.
Against this failure to maintain even a modicum of peace in the region, this nuclear deal seems like a positive step in the direction of thwarting the arms race in Asia. This bet by Obama on deterring Iran from building nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment at permitted centrifugal plants must pass the immediate test at home, where many Republicans as well as Democrats are openly skeptical of the agreement. If it goes as planned, peace is likely to prevail and citizens in the area, as well as the rest of Asia, can breathe easy.
All those countries that have maintained reasonably good economic and diplomatic relations with Iran, though in somewhat restrained manner, during the U.S.-imposed sanction days, any easing of restrictions allowing Iran to import, export, and earn revenue will be a hugely welcome step in the direction of peace. Moreover, it will enable increased energy supplies thereby maintaining its lower prices in international markets.
Economic gains notwithstanding, the final conclusion of the nuclear deal may help soothe the ties between Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and Shia-led Iran. This perception would help reduce the regional rivalries among nations and limit space for extremist groups from destabilizing the Western region of Asia and nearby areas. This nuclear deal will have a positive impact over peace and stability on Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as on China, India, and the rest of the globe.
Opinion and Blog By Binay Srivastava
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