Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Iran is playing a win-win game at the nuclear talks


Iran is playing a win-win game at the nuclear talks
By: Camelia Entekhabi-Fard/Al Arabiya

Monday, 1 September 2014

Recently, I sat down to dinner with a few Arab friends, all of whom were educated in the West and are engaged in policy making. They were very interested to hear my opinion on Iran’s nuclear program and whether or not Iran is tricking the West and its Arab neighbors while secretly planning to produce a nuclear bomb. No one at that table believed Iran was sincere in its pledge to work with the international community to solve the lagging and controversial nuclear file. My Arab friends asked for evidence to prove President Hassan Rowhani’s negotiating team were being sincere. Of course, being too optimistic or too pessimistic is not constructive. Simply put, Iran’s foreign policy has been changed due to the regional and international circumstances.

The interim deal benefits Iran far more than the production of a nuclear bomb. Also, the incentives offered by the West are not bad at all Today, running a country with a population of almost 80 million, with a high youth unemployment rate, is difficult. Unemployment, drug addiction and frustration among the youth all the consequences of the international isolation Iran has suffered for years. The “smart sanctions” which hit Iran’s oil industries in recent years forced the regime to resume the talks with the West. President Rowhani and his nuclear negotiating team took very constructive and major steps in order to restore Iran’s image and to try to solve disputes. They seem to be succeeding because the supreme leader decided to change course and achieve the ambitions they had since the revolution, but in a different way. He understands the importance of being engaged in regional and international matters to play a part rather than sit back in isolation, worrying about national security. In my opinion, what made Iran’s supreme leader back the nuclear talks and show flexibility, according to his own statement, are the events in the region and the opportunities for Iran to become a regional power once again.

The events in Iraq and Syria,the rise of extremism and Iran’s geopolitical and regional importance coalesce to make Iranians feel like they could gain by changing their language and the way they presen themselves in the region. Nuclear bombs can’t feed the masses North Korea’s breakup of the nuclear talks and their nuclear bomb gained the country starvation for its people and deep isolation. The hostile Pyongyang regime has the bomb but using it is as dangerous as committing suicide. Also, how will they use the bomb to feed the hungry masses? Pakistan and India are other good examples. Nuclear weapons have not helped Pakistan to become a stable nation and have not helped India to feed its poor.

So, the deal benefits Iran far more than the production of a nuclear bomb. Also, the incentives offered by the West are not bad at all. To become a regional power doesn’t mean creating a nuclear bomb if the United States and Western powers give Iran such space. Plan B works better for Tehran than a hostile Plan A. The interim deal, which was reached last year in Geneva, was proof that all parties accept each other’s terms and conditions. On August 17, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain must be prepared to ally itself with Iran to combat the “shared threat” of Sunni Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria who want to create “a terrorist state” that could extend to “the shores of the Mediterranean.”

Now the U.S. and the UK share the national interest of putting aside decades of enmity with the Shite regime in Tehran. The British prime minister called on Rowhani to “engage with the international community” in combating ISIS. A year of negotiations with the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. security Council plus Germany) since Rowhani become president hasn’t been wasted as part of the interim deal was that some of the sanctions were lifted and the economy eased. Now an invitation for Iran to join the regional coalition to counter terrorism means finally, after 35-years of the revolution, the world recognizes the regime’s importance. Iran is not far from reaching the comprehensive deal to be outlines by November 23. The harmony between the different factions of the Iranian government is astonishing which leaves no doubt in my mind that the supreme leader is behind all these changes, otherwise it could be impossible for Rowhani to reach the comprehensive deal with the West in such a “win-win” manner as he calls it.