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Nuclear Agreement, New Hope in Middle East Deadlock

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Seyed Ghasem Zakeri
Middle East Analyst

Iran's nuclear agreement with six global powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is an issue whose scope goes beyond bilateral relations between Iran and the West and is also of special importance for strengthening international oversight of nuclear activities in all countries. The nuclear deal, as one of the most important regional issues, can also mark the beginning of new regional trends and, at least, has great capacity to affect many of the most important and sensitive cases in the Middle East. Therefore, from this viewpoint, the importance of the nuclear deal is equal to some of the most important developments that have taken place in the Middle East during the past three decades.

Under conditions that historical and age-old problems and crises in the Middle East have remained unsolved and the region is also grappling with more complicated and newer tensions and deadlocks, apart from Iran's nuclear deal with global powers there is no other hope for the reduction of tensions in the restive and crisis-prone Middle East region. From a regional viewpoint, Iran's nuclear deal with global powers is important mostly because it has strengthened the idea that this deal can be a first step in a new and long process that would lead to consultations between Iran and the West for the resolution of regional issues (of course, within framework of the new doctrine of Western countries in the Middle East).

Therefore, the concern and anxiety that Iran's regional rivals have about Iran's nuclear deal can be taken as a sign of their awareness of its important dimensions and influences in the region. This is true because if it leads to a cooperative mechanism between Iran and the West over regional issues, it will also affect more important regional cases such as the issue of Palestine and even West’s future policies in the Middle East and the Greater Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan. If experts’ assumption that Iran and the West are gradually getting ready for some degree of regional cooperation is true, then without a doubt the immense innate capacity and high self-confidence of the Islamic Republic of Iran as center of stability in the region and a rational, foresighted, powerful and responsible actor, which has demonstrated high ability for management of conflict with its enemies, can serve as good ground for promoting such possible cooperation.

While any assumption about the possibility of a regional alliance between Iran and the West cannot be true, the general expectation is that the nuclear deal, as a first diplomatic step, would lead to more diplomatic initiatives and steps in the region. This is true because at the present time, the greatest achievement of the nuclear agreement has been establishment of direct and overt diplomatic contacts between Iran and the United States and relative reduction of tensions in Iran's relations with Europe. Therefore, it is not unlikely that in the next stages of their contacts, Iran and the West would sit down for consultation on the most important issues in the Middle East.

Under present circumstance, the nuclear agreement has shown its most immediate regional effect on Syria crisis. Immediately after the Western countries’ admission of Iran's role and importance in Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif paid an official visit to Syria and Lebanon and officially presented Iran's diplomatic initiative for the resolution of the Syrian problem. It goes without saying that Turkey’s new behavior with regard to Syria can be considered as an immediate impact of Iran's nuclear agreement.

Given the current deadlock that the Middle East is experiencing with regard to various serious crises and in view of the reluctance of effective regional powers to engage in regional cooperation with one another, perhaps the nuclear agreement shows more promise as facilitator of a multilateral international and regional process that will finally help to solve some regional crises. In the meantime, it seems that due to his success in steering difficult diplomatic negotiations with world powers over Iran's nuclear issue, Zarif, as foreign minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran has now high political capacity and credibility to help with the political resolution of regional problems. This is why at a time that problems in Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia are still extant, Zarif was warmly welcomed by various political groups in Lebanon.

Key Words: Nuclear Agreement, New Hope, Middle East Deadlock, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Mohammad Javad Zarif, Regional Cooperation, Syria, Lebanon, Zakeri

*Photo Credit: IRNA

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