Question: will an understanding between P5+1 and Iran that eased off restrictions on Iran resulting from an interim deal signed in Geneva in which Iran decided to accept restrictions on its nuclear development programme, bring peace to the region and a slacking off of the proxy wars? According to The Guardian Iran agreed to; “To stop enriching uranium above 5% reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium – a major proliferation concern. Not to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. To freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable. Not to fuel or to commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel. To accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities. (Published November 25, 2013) The foreign ministers who wrapped up the deal were those from the US, UK, Germany, China France and Russia.
Satellite pictures immediately outside of the city of Qom revealed that it was possibly a nuclear facility to produce nuclear fuel. Gay Samore, Obama’s coordinator for arms control and nonproliferation at the National Security Council believed that “if Iran manages to build a nuclear weapon, Obama’s goal of moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, would be set back by years, if not wiped out altogether.”(David E. Sanger pg 169:Confront and Conceal)
“The combination of continuous threats and increasing sanctions affected the Iranian economy. In the fall of 2010 the value of Iran’s currency fluctuated wildly. The fluctuation was clearly a manifestation of uncertainty, speculation and fear that were mostly caused by the cumulative effect of sanctions. The sanctions were also exacerbating the rate of inflation in Iran and reducing the rate of growth of the economy. For example, while the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP in 2007 was 7.8%, the rate for 2010, according to the April 2011 report of the International Monetary Fund, was only 1.0%. The same report forecasted the rate of growth in Iran’s real GDP for 2011 to be 0%.” (SasanFayazmanesh for Iran Review December1, 2013)
The deal places the onus on Iran to take confidence building steps to assure the powers of their honorable intentions to follow the agreement through. Offering breathing space; this interim agreement signed in Geneva will offer Iran sanctions relief of $7bn over the next six months. Despite the deal USA will deploy 35, 000-strong force in the Gulf region, as well as an armada of ships and warplanes.
Then there are the religious-geographic dynamics that cannot be overlooked. Hezbollah & Iran in hands with Alawites of Syria have been aiming at reviving the Greater Iran, keeping in view their own schismatic ideology, the effects of which reflect in the current proxy war in Pakistan. The geographic link formed is Hezbollah on one end, Syria and Iraq forming the center with Iran at the other end converging to solidify a unified religious school of thought.
America has failed in containing Sunni radicalism over the years. Al-Qaeda, Taliban - the pot is boiling. Strategy to take on these outfits has no doubt decapitated them to a certain degree, but their base has also broadened from Al-Shabab to Hamas to Abu Nidal Organization to so many others who are anti-west.
America, besides containing Iran on the nuclear front will be intelligent to use this new alliance to her advantage. First, investing in Iranian economy will yield ingress within Iran; second, it will help use this alliance for a better balance against the Sunni states. USA had boxed herself in the corner by deeply engaging herself with Sunni states. India having the second largest Shia population after Iran stands to benefit from the alliance. Lest we forget; in 1995 the first Tripartite Agreement was signed between India, Iran and Russia, when Iranian President Rafsanjani visited India focused on the opening of Bandar Abbas port for the Indian goods and trade, linking with Russia and later Eastern Europe. This was followed by 2003 Tripartite Defense and Trade Agreement between India, Iran and Afghanistan.The details of the agreement under discussion are the brainchild of Puneet Talwar who is an Indian-American and works as Special Assistant to the President and national Security Council Senior Director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf states reports The Times of India.(November 26, 2013)
Going back in the not-so-long-ago history of US-Iran relationship; Iran was the biggest arms purchaser from US in late the 1960’s. Iran was known to be America’s “Regional Policeman,” Iran being pre-dominantly Shia Muslim country, a strong, US-supported Iran was a threat to the pre-dominantly Sunni based Muslim neighbors- all but to India. Removal of the Shah in 1978-1979 by the Iranians themselves by a strongly pro-Islamist and anti-west regime put an end to the relationship. Now, with the present Iran policy showing flexibility and being in an agreeable frame of mind to play the US game-once again; the regional dynamics are changing all over again and may in all probability; accelerate the proxy wars, also within Pakistan. So the political pundits who claim surprise and shock over a possible US-Iran strategic partnership need to realize it’s a relationship going back to history.
On November 26, 2013 a leading local daily reported a rocket was fired ‘from Iran’ killing a girl and causing injury to six others as it hit three houses in Tump town of Kech district. According to the report, “An official of Kech administration said that one of the houses belonged to Mullah Omer, believed to be a commander of an Iran-based religious outfit, Jaish-ul-Adl. The two other houses were of Mullah Omer’s brother Abbas and his close relative Mohammad Arif Jaish-ul-Adl surfaced about two months ago and claimed killing 15 Iranian Pasdaran (border guards) whose bodies were found in an Iranian border area.” This incident supports my reading of the situation; Pakistan stands to lose from the alliance. Balochistan Chief Minister is said to have informed the Federal Government and requested the Interior Minister to take up this violation of respecting the border with Iranian officials. Whether or not this was undertaken is not clear. Not defending such elements; the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan is turning into a joke.
I have always maintained that there are no “friends” in international relations. There are strategic partnerships. This is the way the world works. In a world where different powers want to increase their areas of influence and achieve greater space to operate, the friends of today can become opposing forces of tomorrow and the opposing forces of today can become the friends of tomorrow. A hundred per cent pro-Iranian policy by the US is not on the cards. US will have to maintain a strong balance between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The US and Israel have been at odds for long on the issue of dealing with the “Iranian bomb.” Whereas US did not contemplate a direct attack on Iran, however,” Israel did attack six of Iran’s nuclear facilities” states David E Sanger. He goes on to say that this was without the knowledge of United States in 2009. Calling all sides to restrain from further escalation, “it deployed more Patriot anti-missile batteries and Aegis cruisers around the region as a warning to Iran not to retaliate.”(Confront and Conceal)
“The forces of a powerful ally can be useful and good to those who have recourse to them... but are perilous to those who become dependent on them. (“Niccolo Machiavelli, “The Prince”)
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.