Now seems a better time than any to delve into the murkiness that surrounds Iranian foreign policy. After his impressive victory this year, what is Rouhani up to? Is he simply another Khamenei puppet, following in the footsteps of Ahmadinejad? Or could he prove a beacon for bringing stability to the notoriously volatile Middle East?
Stability is a much-missed watchword in the Middle East. This may be a simple statement, but prevarication over the Geneva deal- supposedly close to fruition- will only cause further trouble in the long-term. Obama needs to make sure that he isn’t swayed by Netanyahu’s hysteria in denouncing a deal that has yet to be ratified. Netanyahu’s rhetoric is a means of stoking conflict for conflict’s sake. His inexorable shift even further to the right of the political spectrum deems his outburst obsolete. Diplomacy and peace needs to be given their head.
Iran has come a long way from the belligerence of the Ahmadinejad years. It is too early to tell whether ita progression towards Western rapprochement is genuine, but Genva can prove a landmark. Forget the doomsayers who argue that a deal validates their nuclear program. The Western powers are seeking a freeze in Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and a limit to the centrifuges that they are able to produce. Over a decade ago, George Bush was offered the opportunity of striking a deal with the Iranians. At that stage, Iran possessed around 2,000 centrifuges. His refusal to countenance any form of diplomacy or deal with the Iranians has seen this number rise to over 19,000.
Netanyahu is wrong when claims the Iranian’s are getting ‘something for nothing.’ Obama is not lifting the entire program of sanctions that has kept Iran in check thus far. The idea of using a one-off thawing of Iranian foreign reserves, will provide temporary relieve to the Iranian economy. Pertinently, this is a one-off relief, and therefore provides incentives for Iran to go further to prove it can be a reliable partner for peace. Geneva is seeking a temporary freeze in the Iranian nuclear program. It is most definitely a start and not an end. BUT, the six-month period it gives to the negotiators will enable more progress to be made in preventing Iran from becoming a fully-fledge nuclear state. Peace must be given a chance. It is not worth thinking about the consequences of a failure to achieve anything tangible at Geneva. The region is war-weary and could do with a win for a change.
So, for once, lets suppress the cynics. Let’s give peace a chance and put our faith in the negotiators, those seeking to solve one piece of the extraordinary complex, Middle Eastern puzzle. With the apparent stalling of the Israel-Palestinian peace talks, it’s time for some good news.