Present Fears Are Less than Horrible Imaginings
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh
Executive Editor of Iran Review
At the end of Iran's nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 group – including the US, the UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany – in the Russian capital, Moscow, optimistic views which believed that Iran and the P5+1 (aka E3+3 as the group includes three European and three non-European members) will achieve an agreement, have retreated into disappointment. Before the negotiations kicked off in Moscow, there was some degree of optimism which had its roots in previous bilateral talks in the Turkish port city, Istanbul, in mid-April.
In Istanbul, both sides reached an agreement on a set of relatively new trump cards and there were hopes that the two sides will exchange their cards in Moscow: Iran's ability to enrich uranium to a level of 20 percent in return for lifting newly imposed unilateral sanctions by the United States and European Union on Iran's central bank and oil sales.
Such an agreement was never reached, for any reason, and now, the United States and Europe have faced Iran with a new reality: the beginning of the US sanctions against Iran's central bank on June 28 and enforcement of the EU ban on buying Iran's oil as of July 1.
On the whole, it seems that before coming to Moscow, Western members of the P5+1 had reached the conclusion that prolonging negotiations concurrent with the continuation of anti-Iran sanctions will serve their best interests. Perhaps the United States and three European countries believed in this notion all through negotiations that even if their maximum demands were not accepted by Iran, they would lose nothing. Being relatively sure that global oil prices will witness no uncontrollable fluctuation, the Western members of the P5+1 decided to wait and see the impact of sanctions which they were determined to impose on Iran in less than two weeks in the wake of Moscow talks. In this way, they preferred to take time creating new conditions by offering Iran with the highest level of their demands, after mounting further pressure on Tehran as a result of new sanctions and in view of the US presidential election results. This is why many observers believed that Moscow talks would be just a formality. Of course, the Iranian side correctly tried to make the most of this opportunity, and by focusing negotiations on technical issues, convey its reasons about unacceptability of the United States’ and EU’s conditions to the Western parties.
On the whole, the Islamic Republic of Iran is currently finding itself in special conditions. Without any doubt, it would not be easy to cope with new sanctions most of which are bilateral in nature and the result of the political will of a few European countries plus the United States. By enforcing sanctions, they actually aim to prolong discussions on an issue whose legal and technical aspects are as important to the Western countries, as its political dimension.
However, if Iran succeeds to make a springboard out of the current dire situation and turn it into an opportunity as much as possible through a realistic approach, the Islamic Republic is sure to emerge victoriously out of this breathtaking confrontation with remarkably increased power and self-reliance. Why and how Iran can take advantage of this complicated situation?
1. Saudi Arabia is the biggest rival and unfortunately hostile foe, of the Iranian nation in this confrontation, which is supposed to shoulder the main burden of pressure which results from the United States and European Union’s unilateral oil sanctions against Iran. At the same time, Saudi Arabia is a country with no firm foundations either in politics or economics.
The main existential foundation of this political player, which also plays a role in Iran's nuclear case, is a political system that is in total contravention to the most primary requirements of the 21st century and the era of telecommunications revolution. The revolution in telecommunications technology has already posed the highest threat to Saudi Arabia as a result of promoting the ongoing wave of the Islamic Awakening and the Arab Spring. In fact, the shield which is supposed to protect the West against untoward impact of unilateral sanctions against Iran's oil is a political system which is the main root of radical religious extremism. The country is also suffering from a totally closed and reactionary political system which is most importantly characterized by heavy dependence on a monocultural economic system based on petrodollars. Threatening Iran by such a backward regime is, per se, good news for Iran. The definition of Islam by the Saudi royal family, and not the Saudi nation, does not conform to any of progressive and attractive rules of Islam in which all Muslim nations from Iran, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, to Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria, and even Muslims living in the United States and Europe believe. Such an ideological differentiation will lead to isolation of the ruling Al Saud family in Saudi Arabia and can actually amount to the biggest essential threat ever posed to the very existence of this family.
2. One of the most important problems, which have been nagging Iran since the first day that oil extraction and production started in the country, is total reliance of the Iranian economy on oil. All Iranians from any walk of life and cultural backdrop, both inside and outside the country, wish for the day when monocultural economy of Iran will be replaced with a polycultural economy based on the country’s non-oil capabilities, including Iranian industries and non-oil products. Of course, this cannot happen overnight as finding a good substitute source for the country’s oil revenues will take a long time and will face Iran with many difficulties. However, if the sanctions help Iran to wean its economy, even to a small degree, from mere reliance on oil resources, and lead to further strengthening of the country’s non-oil exports and production, they will have very sustainable and positive results for the country. This will also have indirect effects by increasing Iran's soft power capacities and, if managed correctly, will activate Iran's intact and hidden potentials in such fields as culture, science and arts.
3. “Making efforts to realize Iran's right to use peaceful nuclear energy” has so far been used as a tool to consolidate national unity in the country. The capacity of this tool to get a large part of Iranian expatriates aligned with the real interests of their motherland will provide Iranian statesmen with a unique opportunity. Iran can expect a remarkable change in the existing situation of deadlock by taking two major steps in addition to uniting the Iranian nation around the country’s national interests. On the one hand, by using a smart and, especially realistic, diplomacy, the Islamic Republic should manage to expand its political relations with effective and independent countries in the world. On the other hand, Iran should make good use of justice-seeking and fair international lobbies, through realism and good understanding of the existing conditions, to promote its views on the nuclear issue while stressing on its right to use peaceful nuclear energy as a member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) all whose nuclear facilities are inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, all these assumptions can change with entry of many yet invisible variables in the course of time, which can speed up or delay their effects on Iran's nuclear case. However, the very steadfastness of the Iranian nation and finding opportunities in the context of threats has been the best method used to counter threats by all resourceful countries that have finally emerged triumphant.
Title: Present Fears are less than Horrible Imaginings: William Shakespeare: Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 3, , Page 6
Key Words: Iran-P5+1 Group, Nuclear Negotiations, Moscow, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, Arab Spring, Monocultural Economy, National Unity, Golshanpazhooh
More By Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh:
*Three Suggestions for the Upcoming Iran-P5+1 Nuclear Talks in Baghdad: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Three_Suggestions_for_the_Upcoming_Iran_P5_1_Nuclear_Talks_in_Baghdad_2.htm
*Three Points Assisting a Successful Negotiation in April 2012: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Three_Points_Assisting_a_Successful_Negotiation_in_April_2012.htm
*The Necessity of Showing Iran’s Soft Power: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/The_Necessity_of_Showing_Iran%E2%80%99s_Soft_Power.htm