Iran's Nuclear Negotiations: Arab World Approach

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ali Akbar Asadi, PhD Candidate
Department of International Relations, University of Allameh Tabatabaei

Recent nuclear negotiations between Iran and group P5+1 (including the US, the UK, France, Russia, China, and Germany) have been assessed positively by Iran and other international players involved in the talks. It seems that after various bouts of tension and different disputes between Iran and the West during the past few years, especially in the past year, remarkable hope has arisen for reduction of the tension and moving toward peaceful resolution of differences within framework of a win-win game. Although nobody can give a final judgment on the future outlook of nuclear negotiations and their impact on Iran's relations with the West, it seems that under present circumstances, both sides have reached a general agreement to continue nuclear talks until certain results are achieved. Under the circumstances when progress in nuclear talks and agreement between Iran and the P5+1 at any level can have positive consequences for Iran and international community, it seems that unlike the majority of international analysts, the approach taken by Arab countries to negotiations is not optimistic. While most Arab officials and leaders have preferred to keep lull and avoid of making any form of positive remarks on this development, certain media and press circles in the Arab world have taken an overtly cynical and critical approach to nuclear talks. Most of those countries have been persistently calling for global attention to Iran's nuclear energy program and escalation of international pressure on the country during past years.

It seems that silence, concern, and dissatisfaction of Arabs with the new turn in Iran's nuclear negotiations emanates from a new reality in Iran-West relations which is not liked by many Arab countries. Arab officials, who have regularly cooperated with the West in putting pressure on and expanding sanctions against Iran, were expecting further increase in pressures to make Iran withdraw from its positions and give up its regional role. In practice, however, the current trend of nuclear talks indicates that a win-win game is going on between Iran and the West which may finally lead to improvement in Iran's international relations and recognition of its legitimate and natural regional role. In fact, their attitude proves that Arab countries still follow the same traditional concept of balance of powers and see West’s relations with Iran as a win-lose game. In other words, they believe that any reduction of tension between Iran and the West and improvement in Iran's international relations will have negative consequences for their regional standing. They, therefore, see Iran's success and improvement in its international conditions as a sign of failure and declining regional standing of the Arabs.

Although overall trend and final result of Iran's nuclear negotiations with the West as well as real stances of Western countries on the nuclear talks are not crystal clear yet, early signs indicate that negative security rivalries dominate regional countries’ attitude as a serious and common reality which will have untoward effects on relations among regional players as well as regional order and security. Development of interactions and cooperation between Iran and the West over Tehran’s nuclear energy program can pave the way for more widespread interactions and lead to confidence building for the resolution of other regional disputes. In this process, the region will gradually move toward a higher level of stability and security and, on the whole, all regional players will benefit from new conditions. An attitude based on mere power politics and security rivalries, whose most important result will be nothing but pessimism and dissatisfaction with progress of nuclear talks between Iran and the West, will certainly not lead to a positive achievement.

The main factor which can help promote regional stability and cooperation among existing players, especially Iran and Arab countries, is a new approach to regional issues combined with correct understanding of structural and lasting realities that influence the interests of all regional countries in long and even short terms. The main components which need to be highlighted in this new approach include Iran's permanent neighborhood to Arabs and its requirements, international developments and their impact on the status of regional countries and their relations with world’s great powers, as well as natural status and role of each regional player in view of its soft and hard power components. Although regional developments and approaches adopted by big transregional powers have caused challenges and rivalries in Iran's relations with certain Arab states, permanent geographical neighborhood and temporary nature of international developments and alliances call on both sides to move toward interaction instead of hostility and negative rivalry. The transfer of power in international system and reduced influence of the West can help to redefine regional political equations in medium or long terms. As a result, such factors as hostile policies applied by the West to, for example, contain Iran and the ability of Western countries for containment will not be permanent and unchanging. The role and status of each regional player, which is actually determined by their real power as well as geopolitical, economic, historical, cultural, and strategic backdrop, is an unchanging reality. The main factor which can give legitimacy and recognition to their roles is getting rid of security-based rivalries and starting a new stage of regional cooperation and convergence which will meet long-term interests of all regional countries in a balanced way.

Key Words: Iran's Nuclear Talks, P5+1, Arab World, Iran-West relations, Asadi

More By Ali Akbar Asadi:

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*Saudi Arabia and Federalism in Iraq:

*Bahrain Crisis and Its Impact on Iran’s Relations to (P)GCC:’s_Relations_to_P_GCC.htm

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