LAUSANNE AGREEMENT: WHY IRAN NEEDS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

 

ayattolah

Iran’s spiritual leader; Ayatollah Ali-Khamenei

Tehran’s nuclear talks with the US led P5+1 group-a body comprising the US and the remaining four  permanent members of the United Nation’s security council notably, France, Russia, China, UK and a non-permanent member in the mold of Germany-have been enmeshed in controversies, suspense, twist and intrigues-attributes peculiar to “hollywood” block-buster movies.

The unpredictability and frequent change in the colouration of events owing to decades of mistrust fuelled by the Iranian revolution of 1979; a jihadi sort of revolution that had the Persian’s state American -backed monarchy uprooted and replaced with a theocratic and Islamic government had, and will always premeditate a long-drawn, and nervy battle to reach a consensus and concrete deal with Washington and its allies- A hardline stance that Tehran must be willing to soften.

Having endured a tumultuous relationship with Washington and her allies for more than three decades; a development that has seen Iran embrace an ’Armadillo-like-recoiling-posture” that ultimately led to the Persian state shutting its door on the West. Now is the time for Tehran to loosen up and gradually ease herself from the untold economic asphyxiation caused by Western sanctions.

Over the years, the Iranian economy had suffered immense economic drought with her Oil industry being the most affected. Western sanctions had meant little or no capital flows coming into the country and at the same time ensured that Washington and its allies boycotted Iranian oil, and also blocking Iranian banks’ access to funds on the international capital market. An excruciating pain that had stifled the country economically thus, making it redundant.

But Lausanne offers an opportunity Tehran cannot afford to lose.

The US  led nuclear talks that took off in the Switz city should be seen as an encouraging signal by the Iranian government; as it provides an opportunity to open a new page in Tehran’s relationship with the West. Thirty-five years of bickering and acrimonious relationship accompanied by harsh economic sanctions as a result of her Nuclear program-a program that not only Washington but other Iranian skeptics like Israel, Saudi Arabia have labeled “evil and sinister”-has done more harm than good to Tehran hence, embracing the other option available to her through the “Lauzanne framework” wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The Iranians should be excited for at least one reason: Obama’s indifference and calm demeanor towards Tel Aviv’s staunch disapproval of the “Nuclear deal”.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s response to the proposed “Nuclear deal” with Tehran was utter condemnation and disillusionment. The leader of the Jewish state felt let down by Obama’s government decision to thumb up the deal with the Iranians. Not satisfied with his rants on the issue, Netanyahu decided to address the American congress in Washington to express his disappointment and sought congress backing in thwarting the deal.

But, this had little or no effect on Obama and his foreign secretary, John Kerry.

The American president simply responded to the whole situation by calmly reinstating his commitment to make the deal happen and admitted that, Israel’s reaction was something he had expected.

This Scenario above should be one of the several impetus to make the Iranians consider making this deal happen. Obama’s subtle defiance of a strong ally like Israel should be seen as a willing and honest approach by the US and its Western allies to strike a deal.

Another reason why the Iranians must seize the opportunity is because it affords it the chance to prove regional critics wrong. The Persian state’s long history of having a sort of state backed policy that openly embraces and supports terror groups and their activities-groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, and Houthi rebels easily comes to mind-has painted Tehran bad and thereby vindicated the Saudis, other gulf states and Israel that sees her as a destabilizing factor in the region and have seemingly resolved that Tehran’s history of supporting terror groups that are believed to pose security threats within and beyond the region has made the Islamic republic uncanny and unreliable; thus getting assurances from Tehran on its nukes is unimaginable as they believe she won’t reveal all on her nuclear program.

The Saudis and Israelis fear are understandable. But the latter’s is justified and deserves sympathy.

Having Arab states as neighbors will always be a nightmare for Israel if one, considers the bitter and now fractious relationship that exists between her and her Arab neighbours. But having a grumpy neighbor make unguarded and inciting statement challenging your existence would definitely rile and send you into overdrive.

Iran’s former eccentric president, Mohammed Ahmendijad’s anti-semitic rant would always serve as a reminder to Tel Aviv toughening its stance and criticizing a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. Ahmedinejad’s exact words, “Israel should be wiped off the surface of the earth” is not lost on the Israelis hence, the more reason they remain skeptical on the P5+1 nuke talks with the Iranians.

Though he’s long gone and has been succeeded by Hassan Rouhani, Tel Aviv still remains disillusioned about the purported deal. Simply put; the Israelis see the Iran nuclear deal as granting a licence to an unstable teenager to keep a hand-held grenade as a toy or souvenir.

Riyadh for once is on the same page with Israel. Competition for regional influence between her and Tehran has been keen over the years and there is no sign of it slowing down. It is no hidden fact that the Saudi-Iran rivalry reeks of Shia-Sunni ideological and religious confrontation. The war in Yemen-a country just next door to Riyadh-has this undertone.

Saudi Arabia has directed accusations at Iran for supporting and equipping Shia-rebel group known as the Houthis for ousting the legitimate and internationally recognized Sunni led government of Abd Rabbour Mansour thus, plunging the country into civil war. And Riyadh has swiftly responded by leading a coalition of Arab Gulf states in an air bombardment campaign to halt the Houthis.

Asides the air campaign, the Saudis have responded to the US nuclear talks with Iran by threatening to embark on a nuclear arms race vowing to catch up with Tehran thereby stoking another fear of a nuclear arms build-up in the region.

A delicate situation that needs to be managed carefully not by the West now, but, Iran if truly she wants peace, and wants to prove her skeptics wrong -An opportunity availed her by the Lausanne framework.

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohamed Javad Zarif has been an excellent representative of the Islamic republic but, can still do better by convincing the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khomeini to soften his stance and give the deal a chance because of the present government in Washington.

I can’t remember the last time Tehran and the West came close to reaching a nuke deal. The US having initiated a move in 2006 to resolve the nuclear issue, but previous governments in both Tehran and Washington at that time had been stumbling blocks to kick-starting the move; a Bush government pre-occupied with war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and the unfortunate replacement of a liberal minded Mohammed Khatami by the eccentric and bellicose Ahmedinjad in Tehran meant that the Nuclear talks would remain in the cold room in the meantime.

But with Obama and Glasgow-trained Hassan Rouhani both at the helm of affairs respectively, the nuclear talks received a new lease of life and that is why there have been series of talks between both parties though, nothing concrete has come out yet but, there remains renewed hope and optimism that a deal can be reached between Tehran and the West.

A $700 million -dollar monthly cash flow that comes with the easing of sanctions if Tehran plays ball will bring relief to the country’s economy-A much needed aid to resuscitate a dying economy stifled by Western sanctions.

And the Ayatollah knows this. Sabre-rattling would not bring capital inflow to the country nor will it relieve the pressure on a depressed economy like Iran’s. Iran’s spiritual leader should try as much as possible to keep the talks open, and engage the West in a constructive dialogue that will benefit both parties.

The Lausanne frame -work, provides the guideline towards ensuring that Tehran’s nuclear program is for peaceful and developmental purpose and only seek to have the Islamic Republic committed to this course.

What the framework provides is to limit Iran’s research and advance development towards nuclear weaponization. By recommending it reduces its nuclear stockpiles, lower its uranium enrichment levels, remodeling Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes and overall, granting access to IAEA-the Nuclear energy body that regulates and monitors nuclear activities globally-are meant to ensure that Iran stays off the path to acquiring nuclear bomb.

And there could be no other perfect time than this, Iran should embrace dialogue and show her willingness to open a new chapter in her relationship with the west-An honorable way to vindicate Obama.

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