IRAN – After the Deal

Written by

Ravand Institute

23 January 2016

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Lausanne was indeed a turning point in the relations between Iran and the P5 plus 1 world powers led by the US. Within a tight window the two sides announced, in the form of a single-page press release, key areas of agreement that had been reached. On the one hand, the press release represents mutual understanding and agreement. On the other, it cannot be taken as a final and concrete fully approved document; since not all the details were crystallized.

Following the Lausanne Declaration, political groups in the United States, the region and even Iran, descended into a circle of anxiety and chaos. Those who have ridden this wave of tension are not inclined to see peace and resolution come to Iran’s nuclear case. Groups and factions that have been benefiting over these years from the tensions between Iran and the States, and which have vested interests in the isolation of Iran and continued sanctions on her, are now united around one main cause: That the Lausanne Declaration, the key result of 18 months of negotiations and the embodiment of the agreement between Iran and the P5 plus 1, should not lead to real action and not act as a prelude to a full resolution to Iran’s nuclear case. This is because such an outcome will inevitably lead to the gradual normalization of relations between Iran and many of those countries with which it has experienced volatile interactions in the past. Such normalization is detrimental to the interests of these opposed groups and factions.

The attacks on the negotiations come from various angles and are often indirect and in various guises. Strangely, there are elements, mostly regional neighbours, who directly and indirectly push for sanctions not to be lifted on Iran. In other words they want to see Iran remain under pressure and thus espouse Irano-phobic propaganda. They seek to secure their own survival and growth through the sanctioning, isolating and weakening of a regional power. Yet, these very groups claim a strategy of ‘non-interference’ in the internal affairs of others and guardians of good neighbourly relations. They have even gone so far as to call for a seat at the negotiating table in order to set terms and conditions for Iran.

The fact is that there are strategic developments that push the negotiations forward and in a positive direction. However, there are forces in the region, as well as inside both Iran and the US, that are trying their best to block, prolong and to eventually stop negotiations. Their driving forces, intentions and objectives are quite diverse and, at times, even conflicting. Yet, they are all united in their short sightedness and lack of strategic vision. Their short term interests have prevented them from looking into the future to consider the long term and strategic benefits.

All of these factors feed into uncertainties of the negotiations. There are many constructive and well-wishing players on both sides. At the same time, however, there are hardline and hawkish elements wishing and scheming for negative outcomes. Skeptics consider many obstacles in the way of an agreement, inviting the public to expect failure, while those forces wishing peace and growth for all, expect a successful conclusion and a rapprochement.

One question is of special note: Have the two sides reached a point of no return? Both parties have invested a lot in the negotiations and see many strategic considerations, not only for themselves, but for the region and the world. Therefore, in spite of the existence of elements of skepticism, there are numerous factors of optimism too. Although nobody can guarantee the exact and precise framework, content, and deadline for any agreement, it is nevertheless quite conceivable to imagine a mutually beneficial agreement emerging from such negotiations; negotiations that are unique in terms of subject, format, and parties. It is indeed unprecedented, with far reaching positive implications for all parties and stakeholders.

The fact is that a normalized Iran would serve as an anchor of stability and economic development. Development in the region is not a zero sum game; rather it is a spillover throughout the region and benefits all. In fact, sharp wealth disparities, and deprivation in parts of the region, have been a cause for ongoing regional tensions and instability.

There is no doubt that considering the huge potential of Iran in terms of its resources and capabilities, removing the pressures from it will make a big difference. Many believe that Iran will be a ‘game changer’ as far as many markets are concerned, especially in the energy sector. Indeed, the forces of the Iranian economy will add to the security and sustainability of the energy markets.

In the past few hundred years, Iran has never sought any domination over any nation, neither has it initiated invasions. On the contrary, it has been subject to imposed wars from neighbouring countries. Therefore, there is little doubt that a normalized Iran would play her natural role, compatible with its traditions. History shows that under such conditions, Iran is an anchor of peace and stability and a force for development and growth.