OPINION | A New Diplomatic Era for Tehran

OPINION | A New Diplomatic Era for Tehran

By Federica Fanuli
Editor-at-Large, IndraStra Global

OPINION | A New Diplomatic Era for Tehran


During his terms, from 2005 to 2013, the former President Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to restart the nuclear program for civilian purposes. The plan allowed the Islamic Republic to acquire nuclear arms and became the geopolitical and economic power of the Middle East. The energy for "peaceful" use could increase in domestic investment on exports of oil and natural gas, so the government could have achieved economic growth and protected the country from the atomic weapons of its neighbours. The nuclear deterrence could have measured the force of Persian politics, but Ahmadinejad was a too dangerous threat for Washington and Tel Aviv. Thus the negotiations failed. The sanctions imposed by West did not produce effects. 

The Islamic Republic has continued its nuclear development and the economic relations between the various monetary institutions and the Iranian Central Bank as well. An alternative could have been the domestic destabilization of the country hoping a change of Persian top leadership, the financial sanctions or the containment policy. Containing the Iranian power until the isolation of the country. There is a third option: the use of arms, as a response to Iran's attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz, which could have forced the regime to negotiate and avert the decline of oil traffic and the economic damage to the state coffers. After seven resolutions of the United Nations and a decade of the "double binary", a strategy of negotiations and sanctions, Ahmadinejad did not make a deal and vanish the agreement with the West. In 2013, the elections encouraged the overcoming of the economic and political impasse. 

The first speech Rouhani, the new President of the Islamic Republic, in front of the United Nations has inaugurated a phase of diplomatic detente. Rouhani has defended the right of producing nuclear fuel for peaceful and civil purposes, but he has been confident of the positive evolution of relations with Washington. It is clear that re-opening dialogue with the United States close to sceptical allies, Israel and the Saudi Arabia, would allow Iran to have a privileged communication channel, but the economy has suffocated by the embargo, inflation and youth unemployment, so the country could not rick the popular anger. 

The sessions in Geneva between Iran and the powers of the 5 + 1 Group have restarted and more then one year of negotiations the plan – that involves cutting of uranium stocks, the interruption of enriched plutonium production and the weakening and conversion of some nuclear sites – has signed. The installations will be subject to international controls, but the agreement especially fixes the suspension of economic sanctions. The thawing of international relations between the US and Iran, historic enemies since the Khomeini revolution of 1979, and the possibility of an economic partnership worries Israel. As matter of the fact, Iran is one of the main financiers of the Assad regime and the Shiite movement Hezbollah in Lebanon. The agreement exacerbates the relations between the Shiite theocracy and the Sunni Saudi regime. 

A clash that is happening in Yemen, where the Houthi rebels – financed by Tehran – have caused the fall of President Hadi, prompting Riyadh military engagement. However, after the important nuclear deal, a new diplomatic era inaugurates the post-sanctions period of the Islamic Republic, which re-launches economically and politically the Shiite State, with many worries of the historical enemies. Recently, for the first time the current President of the Islamic Republic has reached the European Union. The first stop has been in Italy, then the journey has continued in France and Germany. The series of meetings had been scheduled for last November, but because of the terroristic attacks that shocked Paris the historic event has been postponed. Overcoming the blocks that separate the Islamic Republic from the West, also due to an intolerant and uncompromising policy of Rouhani's predecessor, the current President has the advantage of having accepted the dialogue and reached an important agreement on nuclear power which has undoubtedly opened the occidental doors of the dialogue to Iran. A careful choice of a political leadership that has been able to hear the discontent of a society bent by the economic and the youth unemployment crisis.

For the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is now time to attract foreign direct investments. The goal is to boost the growth, so the country need inbound investments about USD 30-50 billion annually. On the other hand, the strategic vacuum in the fight against Daesh, the deal could indirectly tie Iran to the mediation of the Syrian conflict and disengages the West by the military effort. The central government in Tehran is deployed on the opposite side to that of the European countries and the Saudi Arabia. In fact, the Shiite Iranian majority supports the regime of Assad, Alawite, a branch of the Shia Islam, and goes against the Sunni Saudi kingdom. A contrast that, as well as political, splits the Middle East also religiously. Shiites versus Sunnis are fighting in Syria and in Yemen, where the proxy war is going on, it should be contemplated the possibility that Iran, strengthened by the agreements, does not exclude the domino effect of the instability in the Middle East, exactly with the support of the Houthi in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon to expand its influence in all the Middle East region.

About The Author:

Federica Fanuli was graduated with honours in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Salento and she has obtained a Master’s Degree in Political Science, European Studies and International Relations at the same University. Foreign Affairs analyst, she is Editorial Manager of Mediterranean Affairs, a project aiming to provide analyses that cover the Mediterranean area. Columnist of the Sunday Sentinel, she is Editorial Board Member of Cosmopolismedia.it and Editor-at-large of IndraStra Global. She can be reached at her LinkedIn profile. / Thomson Reuters ResearcherID : M-9093-2015

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