23/07/2015

Iran: agreement reached

Iran and the members of the Security Council plus Germany (P5 + 1) agreed, after 12 years of chaotic negotiations; they have clinched a landmark deal on the Iranian nuclear issue. John Kerry and Javid Zarif reached a compromise to solve the nuclear impasse. The conclusion of this agreement is a success: for Obama, currently mired in the Middle East, for Iran, which will run back into the community of nations. Moreover, it is also a success for the members of the P5 + 1 who negotiated for 12 years an agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.

This very precise and technical agreement allows Iran to develop its civilian nuclear industry and escape the sanctions, but at the same time, it blocks at least for ten years any will of military nuclear program for Iran.

The atmosphere was festive in the streets of Tehran following the announcement of the conclusion of the agreement. The preparation of the forthcoming parliamentary elections on 26 February 2016 has already begun and will help to inflame passions. The reformers, marginalized or jailed since 2009 after demonstrations against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begin to get out of prison after serving their sentence and seek to unify their forces. All actors in the social and political life are ready to play their role with that new breakthrough which opens new perspectives.

On the US side, the president must face the discontent of Republicans, which has majority in Congress, and Israeli government, which is seeking to sabotage the agreement. In the perspective that Congress endorses this agreement, Obama is trying to minimize the scope of the document stating that it solves the risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East through its technical and restrictive aspect nevertheless it is still necessary to combat Iranian influence in the region. King Abdullah II of Jordan, which comes from a Sunni dynasty, had summed up a few years ago the fears of all the Sunni Arab monarchies when he warned about the « danger of the emergence of a Shiite crescent ». Hence, Obama tries to reassure Sunni Arab allies and Israel who find that their agreement is unfavorable to their interests.

Israel has always declared its hostility to the regime in Tehran and to such an agreement. In 2008, there were rumors about possible Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. Over the past decade, the Israeli Mossad was involved in numerous targeted assassination of Iranian scientists in order to delay the nuclear program. The NSA had also made such maneuvers in 2010 with the development of Stuntex, a virus that attacked centrifuges software. For Israel, this agreement does not reduce the ability of Iran and just saves time. Netanyahu will therefore use all possible levers to hinder this agreement

This agreement might lift international sanctions over Iranian economy. A resumption of diplomatic relations might be consider between Iranians and Americans.

The return of Iran on the international scene could be favorable. Thus to ensure the survival of the Mullah regime and improve an economic situation marked by the financial and economic sanctions Ayatollah Khamenei had  to consent to the agreement to be negotiated and signed. The gradual thawing of Iranians banking assets, which have been stuck abroad, could generate about 100 billion dollars. That would be a great news for a country with a GDP that exceeds barely 500 billion dollar a year. However, it would be naive to believe that in a few months the country will become an Eldorado for business and that the state will fundamentally change its structure.

In geopolitical terms, the agreement could eventually shift the balance of power in the Middle East. This would pave the way for a more open dialogue with Iran.

Even though the agreement is conclude, there is no question to speak of democratization. If Iran is more flexible and more conciliatory on certain subjects that are at the heart of regional tensions;

Iran will more likely tighten the screw at the interior level; the government will reinforce ideological control. We shall recall that the Iranian regime at the beginning have been built from the inside against its external enemies that are Iraq (with the secular regime imposed by Saddam Hussein), United States and Israel.

Obama has made a risky bet with this agreement. Indeed, he is trying to reach out Iran to “impose” a more conciliatory position on Iranian regional policy. He tries to have an influence over that cold war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which lead to a fratricidal war between Sunni and Shiite.

Without doubt, it is also a further way to counter and degrade ISIS that becomes a greater danger each day and a major threat to regional security.

Nevertheless, this agreement is a success,on a diplomatic level after twelve years of negotiations encompassing Iran, the United States and five others players, with diverging views and goals.