Reconsidering priorities after the Iran agreement
After the nuclear deal struck by six world powers with Iran on July 14, both US President Barack Obama and the European Union representative insisted profound changes in international relations were about to come about.
On the regional level, the accord will give Iran the opportunity to be a major player. With the implicit blessing of the United States, Europe and Asia, Iran can claim a greater role, though not necessarily a military one, in deciding the outcome of regional conflicts.
Indeed, armed conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa have shown that Iran’s involvement in the region cannot be ignored. It has backed certain camps and automatically made enemies of others. It is therefore necessary for all parties to strive to contain regional conflicts with both Iran and Arab states playing major roles.
I believe that the new Iranian nuclear agreement is an opportunity for Middle Eastern and Arab states to reconsider priorities and strategies. With this agreement, Iran has proved to the world that it is not in the race to have its own nuclear weapons, because such weapons would not solve its internal economic problems.
So agreeing to an accord indicates clearly that Iran’s goals and priorities under the presidency of Hassan Rohani are focused more on the economy and that gradual changes are going to take place inside Iran economically, politically and culturally.
The Iranian economy will surely get a significant boost from the repatriation of the $150 billion in frozen assets and from resuming oil exports.
The ensuing economic boom will increase popular approval of liberals in Iran and compel conservatives towards a more rational and realistic approach to international affairs.
Iran is liable to become a major economic regional power so it would be advantageous for Arab countries to review their strategies regarding Tehran, more so towards reinforcing economic and security ties and forming a common front against terrorism and in resolving regional conflicts.
No solution is impossible once the political will to overcome all obstacles, be they ethnic or religious, becomes available for mutually friendly and beneficial relations.
On the international level, the feverish race of Western companies towards Iran proves that Tehran sits on an important fortune, has a skilled workforce and has access to new technologies acquired during the embargo. Since these Western companies are planning to set up significant economic ventures, wouldn’t it be advantageous for Arab companies to get involved in similar ventures?
A historic opportunity presents itself for Arab states and Iran to establish more balanced relations. The concerned parties should implement policies oriented towards entente, finding communalities and developing them and resolving differences through dialogue. Such policies should be carried out in a constructive spirit and both parties should be willing to make concessions.
I also maintain that a successful Arabic and Islamic world is a world that can make use of all of its ethnic and sectarian components. For this to happen, it is imperative to get over the thorny rivalries of Sunnis versus Shias, and Arabs versus Kurds or Berbers. These obstacles can be overcome through comprehensive and durable development, economically, socially, culturally and educationally. When such is the case, destructive currents such as the Islamic State (ISIS), Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda will have no room in Arab and Muslim societies.
Turkey has already started planning new agreements with Iran. It would be wiser not to let the West have the monopoly of dealing with Iran.
In fact, it might be necessary to create a new Iranian-Arab-Turkish pole. This could be economic at first but would evolve towards political and strategic collaboration.
It would weigh all matters pertaining to the Middle East and North Africa and be a pertinent and efficient partner to each other and to the world’s superpowers for the development and safety of the region.