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Sat. October 20, 2018
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Iran Nuclear Deal: On the way to political transformations or united for the political game?
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By Serine Ayriyan In Geneva the world powers and Iran agreed on the nuclear deal that is claimed by the parties to be a dramatic step in bilateral relations. Most western media also consider the deal to be a breakthrough in the history of the West-Iran relations. One of the very few negative voices is expressed by Israel - the country under the most direct threat in case this agreement is not as successful as portrayed. Despite this almost complete unity in attitude towards the deal, it is still important to critically assess the agreement and make our independent conclusions rather than blindly follow the agenda set for us by the powerful western media. If you try looking at the agreement with sober eyes, you will see that what makes supporters claim its historic significance is not its content, but rather the hope - the hope that this agreement will initiate the improvement of the Iran-West relations and will be a first step of the peaceful bilateral dialogue. The agreement itself – not by the very fact of its signing, but by what it factually brings to the bilateral agenda – does not signify drastic changes. On the Iranian side the concessions are quite reversible - even giving up some of its nuclear reserves, Iran preserves his capabilities to enrich uranium. What essentially Iran concedes is just several weeks sufficient for enriching the existing reserves of uranium to the level required for nuclear bomb that distance them from what can potentially be their major goal and what is a main fear of the US and Israel. On the other side, $7bn worth relief of sanctions that Iran will receive is drop in the ocean of 80 million Iranian population suffering from the severe economic conditions created by stable and heavy sanction from the West for recent years. Saying that the most precious in the agreement may be the hope it provides for future normalization of dialogue we inevitably face another question. Do we see any evidence that could back this hope and make it at least slightly tangible when Iran and Israel along with the US remain on the opposite sides of the bridges of the core problems? Those who believe in factual nature of this hope mostly point to the genuine change of Iranian intensions caused by election of Hassan Rouhani. However, should we base our hope on this, when the figure de facto much more powerful than the president of Iran especially in questions related to nuclear industry is Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei? He was in power in times of Ahmadinejad and remains in power with the presidency of Rouhani. Thus, one president may replace another, but until Ayatollah represents the real regime, the sudden change of the core intentions of Iran and transformation of its vector of foreign policy towards concessions and normalization of relations with the West seem non-realistic. From the US side, it would be utopian to suggest that the course of Obama’s administration was redirected to stabilization of the relations with Iran and this was prioritized over the long-established family ties with Israel. Neither is there an evidence to suggest that US have no more suspicions in terms of the goals of the Iran Nuclear programme, taking into account that Obama claims that this so-called brand-new agreement is a possibility to cut Iran’s way to a nuclear bomb. But if not the genuine desire of parties to stabilize the relations, why was this agreement possible? Why now? This deal could be seen as a short-term, mutually beneficial game, professionally played by two sides – US and Iran on the highest level of their countries leaders the bilateral secret talks that dominated the form of negotiations only justify this suggestion. Both parties get what they need, with no major concessions, with no major statements, with no major promises. On the Iranian side, the US sanctions relief of 7 billion dollars, rather symbolic than sufficient to change the economic situation in core, will help Rouhani to preserve the very basis of his legitimacy as Iran’s leader. The principal chapter of Rouhani‘s electoral campaign was the promise to improve the economic situation of the country and pledge to achieve the facilitation of sanctions regime. On the contrary, the severe economic conditions caused by sanctions in times of Ahmadinejad made the population turn back form their charismatic and idiomatic leader. Therein, this relief of sanctions was much needed and Iran agrees to play this game on his side. But what did drag the US to participate in it and ignore for the first in a long time the voice of his closest ally – Israel? Why after the years of sanctions getting only heavier and heavier the US agreed to their facilitation, getting in turn not as much as they always wanted to get from Iran? We may, surprisingly find the answer in Iran’s neighbouring Syria. After the Syrian failure Obama had to demonstrate the success at least on one of the most difficult vectors of the US foreign policy. The failure of the military option for Syria that was suggested, promoted and backed only by the US, created an urgent need for Obama to re-establish his name as the world’s leader in mediation and the US face of the main third party in any conflict resolution process. After Geneva talks Obama came out saying in his public statement – “we cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world’s problems, we cannot commit ourselves to an endless circle of conflicts” - are not these words great to vanish the face of the US as supporters of military solutions to any protracted conflict? Quite a win-win situation, is not it? Rouhani gets the relief in sanctions and makes the first step to fulfil his major electoral promise, while Obama re-establishes his name as a successful mediator, promoting peaceful scenarios for word’s conflicts. Of course, the only judge will be the time. It will show whether the signed deal was truly a door to brand-new relationship between the US and Iran or, rephrasing Shakespeare, this is just another proof that politics is the stage and policy makers are merely players. Let’s wait and see. Serine Ayriyan holds a MSc in Comparative Politics with a specialization in Conflict Studies (London School of Economics). She also has a Bachelor's degree in International Relations from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow and worked at the Armenian Embassy to the Russian Federation0.

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