Monday, 30 March 2015
Is an agreement with Iran wise?
A much more pressing issue for any incoming Government, should we elect one, will be what happens with Iran. It is no secret that President Obama has decided that the best way forward with the Country is to try to get it away from international pariah status to see if it can be re-integrated in a less hostile way. In this view he is aligned with the EU, Russia and China.
On the other side of the table are perhaps those who have more to lose. Israel, faced with Iranian backed militia in Lebanon and Gaza constantly firing rockets at them and brainwashing all children to believe in eradication of the Jews and Israel, is not happy to deal with Iran. Saudi Arabia too, moving swiftly to be an ally of Israel, is concerned at Shia backed militia in Yemen which it is poised to invade. Of course, the Yemeni Shia are backed by Iran.
Then there is Iraq, the Shia south is leading the resistance to ISIS in the Sunni north - an unfortunate turn of events for Saudi, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan - perhaps showing that money to back terror groups always leads to unintended consequences which they should have learned from their sponsorship of Al-Qaeda in the 1990's. But Shia Iraq needs help to defeat Isis, which surely is even more of a threat than Iran.
Then of course there is the economic issue, Iran has plenty of crude to export and even with Sanctions is a functioning state which could quickly re-integrate into the world economy, boosting itself but also applying further long-term pressure onto the oil prices.
Finally, there is the nuclear issue. Iran really wants a nuclear bomb and from time to time seems to elect leaders stupid enough to perhaps use it. Hence the clear focus on stopping it acquiring one. I am loathe to agree with neocons who say Iran already has it or sanctions won't work - their spectacular wrongness in Iraq on the effectiveness of sanctions must always be considered. Sanctions hurt, Governments will do a lot to be rid of them.
Overall then this is a very thorny issue, personally I am with Obama that the total exile of Iran pushes it further to extremism than trying to re-integrate it somewhat. If a deal can be done to ensure it does not develop nuclear weapons then perhaps it is doable. The wider politics of the Shia/Sunni civil war in the Middle East will not be fixed just by the West siding with the Sunni's (who, of course gave birth to Al-Qaeda and ISIS). Getting Israel onside/reassured will be harder, but that is the bit Obama will miss given his visceral hatred of Netanyahu.