November 24, 2013
The Geneva talks over the future of Iran’s nuclear program came to an end on Saturday night. The outcome of the negotiations, yet being clearly underlined in the common statement, leave significant space for various interpretation. The first and most powerful one came on Sunday morning (24.11.13) by the Israeli Prime Minister Mr. Netanyahu, stating in Jerusalem that this deal cannot be considered as an historic one, but rather as an historic mistake. After all, did these talks bring something new to the debate or it was more of a diplomatic game of global concern?
The agreement in Geneva came after a long period of negotiations, backs and forths, fierce statements, and a wide concern over the possible outcome. All sides, except for Israel, declare themselves satisfied by the agreement that blocks Iran’s path to create a nuclear bomb. The essence of the agreement is that Iran has agreed to freeze its nuclear program for a six-month period in exchange for limited and gradual sanctions relief, including access to $4.2 billion from oil sakes. During this period, all engaging parts have committed to negotiate a more sweeping agreement that will finally control Iran’s program away from uranium enrichment. In other words, this agreement is a temporary step towards another, more binding one, in the months to come. It is more a gentlemen’s agreement, rather than a final resolution.
From this perspective, Israel’s concerns have serious grounds of justification. PM Mr. Netanyahu strongly advocates that Iran has achieved to gain time and proceed to its scopes, which is according to Israel to advance Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, along with the necessary economic and commercial relief that the country will have during this period of strife. The threat for Israel has not passed, but instead it is getting even more powerful, after Iran’s lift of sanctions and embargo.
From another perspective, this agreement was of paramount importance for the US and the EU foreign policy, both for similar reasons. The United States were eagerly seeking for a comeback in the geopolitical chessboard in order to clear the shadows of weakness after the denial of the proposal for invading Syria by the side of its NATO allies, and especially from the UK. The non-intervention “achievement” in Syria was also regarded to be Russia’s win in a strong and deep bras-de-fer over the influence of the two superpowers in the Middle East region. In this respect, Washington has any reason to celebrate for this historic deal. Notwithstanding, we should also consider the Geneva accord as a great breath for Obama administration after the backdrop against the Affordable Care Act in domestic politics a couple of weeks ago.
On the other side, the European Union was also seeking a verification of its international role that was considered to be extremely weakened and narrowed since the beginning of the economic crisis in Eurozone. EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Baroness Catherine Ashton has achieved a great win as well, being credited a large part of the diplomatic efforts toward the agreement. For Baroness Ashton is a double-win story: on the one hand, she clears the shadows of controversy regarding her role and inactivity in EU’s foreign affairs and positioning, and on the other hand she is bringing UK and the US closer, after a short period of crisis following the Syria crisis between the two allies. Meanwhile, we should also acknowledge the effect of Ashton’s efforts for the image of the EU globally, and its correlation with the wave of euroscepticism in the UK.
From a third perspective, what is also interesting to deal with, is the outcome of the agreement per se for Israel. It goes without saying that Israel might need to seek for alternatives in its approach over Iran, after being evident that PM Netanyahu has maneuvered to put itself into international isolation, with only Saudi Sheikhs and American Senators standing by its side. Israel is going deeper into a quagmire that itself has built step by step after the continuous threats and the hardline against Iran. Probably it is time for a major shift in the forthcoming months for Israel and its policy regarding Iran, as it is evident that the one and only committed strategic ally, the US, is also shaping a new, less rigid approach towards Tehran.
All things considered, the Geneva accord was foremost an achievement for Iran, giving time to the government to elaborate a more binding approach over the global concerns for its nuclear program or, in the contrary, putting forth its program for military and security reasons, if there are so. No matter what, the next months will be didactic for all parts involved.Dimitris Rapidis