Unlocking the Middle East – How Iran’s nuclear deal will herald a new narrative in the region

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SHAFAQNA - July 14th nuclear deal marked a breakthrough in US-Iran relations, following fraught negotiations. And while critics remains fiercely in opposition to the deal, Iran’s return to the international scene offers inspiring opportunities for the Middle East.

It’s official the French have been out-staged on Bastille Day – by the Iranians no less! Robespierre might have found a certain poetry in such an overlapping of date, since imperialism was too, knocked right on the head; somewhat echoing the long cries for freedom of revolutionary France.

Undoubtedly a historical day, especially considering the specter of global war was arguably averted, Iran’s success this July 14th, goes far beyond the premise of a nuclear non-proliferation deal – it quite literally laid down a brand new field of geopolitical entanglements, where hawkish America, usual suspects in tow (Israel and Saudi Arabia) is no longer hugging the narrative.

And though US President Barack Hussain Obama appeared the American hero before his people, arguing the country’s strength and moral grand-standing, such political posing most certainly hides a sense of great relief before the bullet Washington just about dodged. Let’s not kid anyone here, Iran nuclear deal is not an American gift to the Iranian nation, it was a pragmatic necessity!

“Today because America negotiated from a position of strength and principle, we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons in this region … Because of this deal, the international community will be able to verify that the Islamic Republic of Iran will not develop a nuclear weapon,” said Obama from the White House on Tuesday, confirming the momentous political and diplomatic breakthrough.

Iranians might argue that the real victory lies not in the affirmation that their nuclear program will remain strictly civilian-oriented, but instead in the new reality that an end to some, if not all, political hostilities will introduce. Could it not be after all that Iran gave indeed very little away since its intended nuclear ambitions were never, as trumpeted by Israeli PM Benyanim Netanyahu, military oriented?

Regardless, the point remains, following decades filled with tensions, defiance and mistrust Iran and the US have finally found some common ground – just enough maybe to cement a lasting friendship.

From a middle-eastern perspective and within the perimeters of the war against terror, Iran and the US needed to sit on the same side, if not in the name of a common ideology, or shared ambitions, to oppose the rising threat of ISIS’ Wahhabi-inspired doomsday army.

To contradict PM Netanyahu, there cannot be peace in the Middle East without Iran. Denying this one crucial geopolitical reality has led the world to where it is today: facing the barrel of ISIS gun to the tune of widespread regional instability and sectarian tensions.

Whether in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Afghanistan or Pakistan, Iran, as a regional superpower and political patron, sits too much within the regional dynamics which have been weaved over the decades for any power to hope achieve lasting peace without its input.

Iran is not the great bad wolf of the story. Iranians, like any other people want peace and they want security.

More importantly and most likely more pertinently, Iran happens to want ISIS gone more than just about everyone!

And if an American alliance with Saudi Arabia against Wahhabi-inspired radicalism never made any sense at all, a partnership with Iran actually does.

In truth Iran already proved itself a valuable asset in Iraq as it aligned its efforts against ISIS with Washington through an informal military cooperation, opening avenues which would have otherwise remained shut.

And if Washington and Tehran can indeed prove formidable together when at war’s door, one can only imagine what they could achieve together in peace. Time will tell …

Iran and the US do not need to be at war, nor should they! And though this clash of the Titans still fits within the hegemonic ambitions of hawkish Israel and its American patsies, the world today simply cannot afford to pay lip-service to peace when collaboration offers more interesting, and let’s admit more lucrative prospects.

Russia actually hit the nail right on the head when its Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, suggested building economic ties to reinforce political goodwill and dispel poverty-born frictions. And since financial security has a way of dispelling populations’ taste for blood and war, why not take a page out of Moscow’s book and build bridges rather than drop bombs?

Iran’s nuclear deal would be the perfect cornerstone.

And yes it will take time – no one said it wouldn’t. But then again I would much rather see nations be slow at peace-building than hasty in wars.

The main point is, change happened and for the first time since former US President George W Bush gave his infamous and ominous “axis of evil” speech, we are all breathing a little easier; the world is not monochrome anymore.

In this brand new space the P5+1 helped create, Iran will reclaim its place at the international roundtable and act both a buffer and a deterrent to an otherwise overpowering Saudi narrative in the Middle East.

Needless to say that Saudi Arabia’s own brand of exceptionalism is in need of curtailing, and some good old fashion political and economic pluralism could just be what the doctor’s ordered. Again here, Iran’s nuclear deal opened up such an opportunity.

I would personally argue that the end to Iran’s isolation will allow for some sort of political renaissance where old diplomatic fault-lines and ideological grievances will have no sway anymore.

Maybe now we can go back to fighting the real enemy of this century – terror, this time together!

By Catherine Shakdam – the views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect that of Shafaqna.

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