Jamal Khashoggi: Guiding Iran on the path to democracy/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard: Post deal, Iran is facing a new era


Post deal, Iran is facing a new era
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya/Monday, 27 July 2015
The world can breathe a collective sigh now that a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 has been reached. Even at this stage, however, there is still opposition to the deal in both Iran and the U.S.. It should be said, however, that is highly unlikely that the U.S. Congress will reject the deal after it has been endorsed by the United Nations. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed Vienna agreement on July 20, said that all the sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program be lifted upon the implementation.

The outcome of the negotiations were also spurred on by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, much to the chagrin of hardliners A very promising future, especially in the economic sector, awaits Iran if diplomacy can remain open at this juncture.

For the first time since the revolution in 1979, diplomacy played a great role to solve this nation’s disputed nuclear file with the Western powers and to prevent another war in the region. A testament to change. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, with his skills and ability, is testament to the changes in Iran’s foreign policy which now sees engaging the world as important. The Vienna agreement was a direct result of this diplomacy which has been endangered over the years. The outcome of the negotiations were also spurred on by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, much to the chagrin of hardliners in the Revolutionary Guards and those among the clerical elite. A sustainable diplomacy and its continuation is exactly what is expected of Iran’s hierarchy in the near future. As much as fixing the economy is important for Iran as the direct result of this nuclear agreement, for the Western powers it is also important to engage with Tehran on regional issues.

Raising expectations
Furthermore, the nuclear negotiations highlighted the skill of Iran’s Foreign Ministry which raises expectations for the future. The “trade diplomacy” with both the West and the Gulf and getting engaged with them in order to find partners that will help bring in foreign direct investment and smooth Iran’s reintegration into the global economy is expected if the diplomacy continued. The nuclear deal affirms President Rowhani’s vision that Iran is stronger through diplomacy and engagement, not threats and endless conflicts. Iran’s Arab neighbors cautiously welcomed the nuclear deal and have been waiting to see when they will be affected. It may be that the next strategy is to increase engagement with other countries, especially Iran’s neighbors. With the end to Iran’s nuclear negotiations, now is the time for solving regional matters and the coming months will tell us how this conflict is to play out.

Guiding Iran on the path to democracy
Jamal Khashoggi/Al Arabiya/Monday, 27 July 2015
After closing the Iranian nuclear deal, European and U.S. politicians started to promote the idea of a dialogue between Saudi Arabia and Iran to solve the region’s problems. This proposition seems logical. If the two countries come to terms, most of the region’s problems would be dealt with regardless of Iran’s discouraging statements filled with expressions such as “supporting the axis of resistance” and “the militants in the region” which only mean that it will pursue the same policy that leads to confrontation with the kingdom. But let’s suppose that Riyadh responded to the call of its allies in the West and opened the door of dialogue with Tehran, how will it be implemented? Iranians love debates and marathon negotiations as well as shirking their obligations.

In case Saudi Arabia agrees to enter a direct dialogue with Iran, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, will rush to Riyadh accompanied by historians, theorists and professors in political science and economy. The reunion will eventually involve lots of smiles and expressions of affection, an unending conversation about “Islamic unity,” and even prayers and tears. Meanwhile, shipments of Iranian-made barrel-bombs will continue to be sent to Bashar al-Assad and Haider al-Abadi and, if possible, they will be sent to the Houthis and Ali Abdullah Saleh too. The solution resides in establishing a well-defined proposition they will have to either accept or refuse and leading them on the path of democracy in Syria and Yemen. A historical reconciliation would then be achieved between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Either they accept negotiations in such a context or all ends there, a historical confrontation being the only option left. Iranians will most probably go back to their old ways. However, we can counteract that through adopting international resolutions

 If the head of the Saudi Negotiating Delegation and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir asks them to stop their interventions in the region, they will object and say that they are supporting a revolution in Yemen and a legitimate political regime in Syria. If he accepts pursuing the negotiations according to their reasoning and considers that the Houthis are no revolutionary movement but the perpetrators of a coup that abolished other Yemeni forces, and that Assad is rejected by his people and his regime is no longer legitimate, Iranians will argue saying that the Houthis held a legitimate revolution and will prove this by showing photos of massive crowds taken weeks ago in Sanaa at the Quds Day celebrations which were only celebrated by themselves and their partisans. Zarif will then ask with a smile on his face: “What do you call this my friend? Can a rejected coup gather all these millions?”

Another member of the Iranian delegation will then step in and ask: “What is your definition of a legitimate regime?” Here, in case the Saudi delegation is swept along by their logic and presents a detailed study about the right definition of a legitimate regime and evidence of the Houthi coup, the Iranian will, in turn, produce a refutation and set the pace for a series of endless futile negotiations. Meanwhile, a second or third shipment of barrel-bombs will be sent to Assad to be dropped on children and women in Aleppo and Daraa. On the other hand, the assistant of the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs would have arrived to Moscow in order to urge the Russians to submit a resolution to the U.N. Security Council requiring that the Saudi-led military coalition blockade be lifted on Yemeni airports and ports so as to “alleviate the suffering of civilians there” which, in reality, is a mere attempt to recover from military setbacks they have been suffering from.

Real reconciliation
Above was a model of Saudi-Iranian negotiations; however, the two countries are still in need of a real reconciliation. They are getting into a confrontation that will inevitably harm them both if the Iranian “rioting,” as Adel al-Jubeir called it, continues. How can the positive climate of the historical reconciliation between Iran and Washington be exploited? The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is on his way to Jeddah. Perhaps, he will urge Saudi Arabia to negotiate with Iran as the American government would like to wash their hands of the negative aspects of the deal that didn’t address Tehran’s expansionist policy in the region. They have indeed surrendered to Iran’s insistence on concluding a nuclear agreement only.

But, as I have already said, negotiating with Tehran is fruitless and useless if concerned matters are addressed generally. It would be better to push it onto an undisputable path of democracy to resolve the conflict between the two countries in Yemen and Syria and postpone the case of Iraq given that the latter has already taken that particular path. Even though Abadi’s government is flawed and sectarian, it was at least elected by Iraq’s people. Saudi Arabia will say: “We accept that the majority in both countries governs just as we approved that the pro-Iranian Shiite majority takes control in Iraq.” As usual, Iran will try to evade its responsibilities by saying: “What do you know about democracy? If you do not practice it in your own country, how will you be able to implement it in Syria and Yemen?”

The answer to this question is: War, sedition, state collapses and disputes over governance are not happening in Saudi Arabia or Iran. We are a stable Islamic country governed by a royal family and you are a stable Islamic Republic. Let’s maintain the stability of our countries and commit ourselves to not interfering in each other’s affairs. We won’t discuss the flaws of your democratic system nor the events of 2009 nor the detained candidate Mir Hossein Mosavi and his reformist supporters. These are your internal affairs. However, Syria and Yemen are republics with their constitution stating that the people are the source of all power.

Therefore, let us stop interfering in those countries and abide by the resolution of the U.N. Security Council under chapter VII penalizing any country that sends weapons or militias there. Hezbollah will be asked to withdraw from Syria along with all the Shiite factions sent there whereas, in Yemen, let us prepare the way for free elections through withdrawing rebels from cities and military barracks. Let the detainees be released and the legitimate president get back to power.

Let us all support the deployment of peacekeeping forces in both countries along with all the countries that signed the Vienna agreement. Elections need preparation that will take one year or more in Syria and less in Yemen. This will enable us to help millions of Syrians to come back home and whoever cannot do so, may vote from where he is. This is a logical peace proposition compatible with the spirit of reconciliation between our Great Satan (Iran) and yours (the U.S.). Iranians will most probably go back to their old ways. However, we can counteract that through adopting international resolutions, maintaining a decisive policy, raising the level of support to the Syrian revolution, and backing up the Turks while urging them to fulfill their pledges of intervention in the North. We will not back down before getting a favorable answer from Iran. Any other alternative will fuel a major confrontation that takes no half-solutions. It is either us, with our inclusive democratic project and the reconstruction of our pluralistic Syria and Yemen, or them, with their sectarian project.