As the nuclear negotiations enters overtime, the optimism of a comprehensive accord is becoming a reality to both sides of the negotiating table as well as the international community. Certainly we must praise the diplomatic leadership of Secretary John KerryJohn Forbes KerryNikki Haley powerfully rebuts Trump Khashoggi prompts Trump to reconsider human rights in foreign policy Biden: ‘Totally legitimate’ to question age if he runs in 2020 MORE and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who in face of numerous domestic and international challenges have succeeded in focusing on the common objectives and buffering the negotiations from the critics. Let us not get bogged down with the number of centrifuges and the years the final accord would limit Iran’s ability of enrichment. This development must go beyond the current achievements and serve as a roadmap for stabilizing the Middle East and potentially solving the most fundamental roadblocks of peace such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By addressing this issue headwind, United States shall be able to repair its image in Middle East tarnished since 9/11, and Iran will get a chance to solidify its role of a responsible and constructive actor in Middle Eastern affairs.

ADVERTISEMENT

The failure to bring about a sovereign Palestinian State continues to poison the relations throughout Middle East and beyond, and unless this issue is addressed, any type of regional or bilateral compromise is destined to be precarious both for the immediate neighborhood and the West alike. Limited platforms of dialogue and minor deals of peace are predetermined to remain on shaky grounds unless we continue to address the over-arching issues. The Middle East state system is imploding at its core and the fringe elements like ISIS have come to haunt seemingly stable Persian Gulf monarchies and their sectarian core. The non-state actors and terrorist groups together with unilateral actions of certain states have all but jeopardized the regional political system and given way for the sectarianism and tribalism to fill in the power vacuum.

The nuclear negotiations are both a de-escalation of tensions and a platform to take the cooperation beyond the petty details of nuclear accord to the root causes of instability. Since the signing of Joint Plan of Action in 2013, the public discourse of potential military conflict has given way to anticipation of Iran rejoining the community of nations and foreign companies edging their way back into the last big frontier market in the world. The alternative is a far worse scenario of potential military conflict, unpredictable consequences and continuation of radicalization of politically awakened masses. Regional economies would continue to suffer, weakening the already cash-strapped governments with youth unemployment and environmental issues remaining unmitigated.

Last April, upon returning home after concluding framework agreement in Lausanne, Switzerland, Zarif received a hero’s welcome. The joy and optimism of Iranians was understandable in anticipation of long-awaited relief of economic pressures and speaks to the popular support and political capital of current Iranian leadership. Such was the political platform that brought President Hassan Rouhani to power in 2013, and the negotiating team received a tacit support of Ayatollah Khamenei to protect Iran’s rights through a viable international agreement. Kerry on his part traveled the World, assured the skeptics in the provisions of potential final deal and walked a fine line in navigating domestic and international political landscape.

Although the fact that Iran and the U.S. are in direct dialogue after three and a half decades of alienation is of earth shattering significance, to say the least, it would be naïve to believe that negotiations would lead to normalization of relations between Iran and United States or serve as a Gordian’s knot of Middle East instability. The historical legacies and deep running distrust with legitimate roots in the mainstream politics of Iran still persist. There are differences of opinion starting on the reasons of what actually brought Iran to the negotiating table, not to mention the dramatically divergent worldview of negotiating countries to the level of identity. The Middle East needs a much more concerted and inclusive effort of stakeholders to strengthen its political order. This requires both United States and Iran to seek new avenues for providing such effort that is both inclusive of all stakeholders and has a potential to be applied to other regional challenges such proliferation or conflict resolution.

The significance of current nuclear negotiations therefore lies not in the success of final nuclear accord. Rather it serves as a testimony that in spite of differences, cooperation is possible and is actually happening. International diplomacy thus should be celebrated and leveraged to further promote the actors of peace and stability in the region, whether it is in the form of Nobel Peace Prize or broad-based efforts to bring in the stakeholders of frozen conflicts to the table. An example of a well thought award shall keep attention of the policymakers on the topic for decades to come and will lead to a positive development not only on the subject matter but in wider international politics. Because any impartial assessment of Iran’s geopolitics would speak to the potential role it can play in regional and global order, there is a need for recognition and encouragement of current dialogue that would help transcend current affair challenges of the day. 

The current negotiations are a window of unique opportunity for the West and Iran. To meaningfully take advantage of such opportunity would mean to open the doors of addressing the larger issues of regional security. Doing so will not derail the current negotiations but will in turn enhance the viability and seriousness of it in spirit of ultimately bringing peace to the region. The recognition of current negotiations as a success and promotion of venues of dialogue in tackling the root causes of Middle Eastern shall serve the cause worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. But the ultimate responsibility falls on United States and Iran, in decisively taking on this chance further to promote the platform for peace and stability. This alley of opportunities must be viewed as a chance for Iran to resolutely re-join the community of nations and for United States to re-emerge in Middle East as a player who understands the extraordinary complexities rather than a promoter of other countries’ interests. Until Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved there will be no permanent peace in the Middle East.

 

Aliabadi is the managing partner of Global Growth Advisors GGA, a strategic consulting firm and leading adviser on business and political strategies, and senior adviser to Director of Strategic Initiatives Islamic Republic of Iran, Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Institute for Political and International Studies. Bayarlkhagva is research associate of Global Growth Advisors GGA, and is a fellow at Islamic Republic of Iran , Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Institute for Political  and International Studies.