Neocon doldrums: ​Iran deal points to global ‘shift of power’

Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015 (Reuters/Joe Klamar)
The Iran nuclear agreement hammered out in Vienna promises to attract heated political opposition from detractors in Washington and Israel, but Iran deserves to be an active partner on the global stage, Middle East experts tell RT.

Iran and six major world powers have reached a deal on the Iranian nuclear industry, bringing an end to a 12-year dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program and related economic sanctions. However, news of the deal has had mixed reactions around the world, but especially in Israel, which was fiercely opposed to any deal with Tehran.

RT spoke with several experts to get their opinion on the outcome of the talks.

'Major artillery' against deal expected

Pepe Escobar (Still from RT video)Pepe Escobar, Asia Times correspondent who had unrestricted access to the negotiators, described the painstaking effort the diplomats made in putting the final touches on the document.

"They would explain for us, a small group of independent journalists, details like fighting for a preposition or a verb for 2-3 hours at the negotiating table," Escobar said. "We’ve seen the thousands of brackets that they had to eliminate on a daily bases, not only consuming all those strawberries. It’s an amazing feat of diplomacy."

However, he admits that the deal "is not perfect," and will require the rigorous implementation of what the Iranians and some European negotiators call the “parallel process.”

"One side the US, the UN, and the EU are trying to dismantle little by little the architecture of sanctions; and on the Iranian side complying with all the agreed reductions in their nuclear program. This will go along until December, and this was already decided last week when I was still in Vienna. It is a parallel process."

it was noted that in December, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano [International Atomic Energy Agency] will release a statement saying Iran has complied "hopefully" with everything. He mentioned inspections will include a visit to a Persian military site in a separate agreement between IAEA and Iran.

"So only by December, if all goes well, we are going to start to see the easing off of sanctions."

Escobar provided confidential information that he was told he could not publish until the deal was announced. The US side relayed to the Iranians that the agreement would pass US Congress by two-thirds margin. However, according to Escobar, the negotiators were under the impression that Congress would take a vote in 30 days. But it turns out there will be a full 60 days before the House and the Senate consider the legislation. In political time, that is an eternity. Escobar expects two months of "major artillery" being fired from the usual suspects to scuttle the agreement.

"Obviously we’re going to have major artillery coming from the Israeli lobby, the Persian Gulf lobby, and the Saudi Arabian lobby in DC with lots, lots of money influence and op-ed pieces in the corporate media," he said.

He then discusses Israeli efforts to put the brakes on a deal that it considers to be "irresponsible."

"We’re going to have barrage of people say, just like, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin ] Netanyahu said today that this deal 'doesn’t work.' Obviously it doesn’t work because now his Israeli government - I’m not talking about the whole of the Israeli population - they will have to concentrate on what really matters, which is what they do to the Palestinians. Now there is no third conversation. The Iran issue is practically close, it is a diplomacy victory. Now they have to deal with Palestine.

"Obviously, the only escape clause for Netanyahu is to say that the deal won’t work."

Escobar has doubts that Netanyahu's influence over Capitol Hill will win over the lawmakers this time.

"The problem is [that] he has the firepower to, I would say control, large part of bipartisan Capitol Hill. I am not sure it is going to work," he said. "The Obama administration is already on overdrive, and that’s started a few weeks ago to sell to Congress - and a lot of these people in Congress have no idea about the Middle East, South-West Asia, or Iran for that matter - that this is a good deal for the US, not only for global diplomacy."

Making Iran an active partner on global stage

Catherine Shakdam (Still from RT video)Catherine Shakdam, Editor of the Beirut Center for Mideast Studies, called the nuclear agreement a"historic deal,"which will help to correct many of the things"going wrong right now in the that Iran is back into the international fold."

However, although there was much optimism coming out of Vienna from the world delegation, the exact opposite reaction was being heard from Tel Aviv. Shakdam said the reaction coming out of Israel right now is "kind of expected."

"I think it is quite clear the Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and his government will not be happy with any deal as far as Israel is concerned," she told RT. "But I think the main thing that needs to be remembered is that we are essentially avoiding greater wars in the near future and we are paving the way for better cooperation in the international arena without having to antagonize and segregate in any way."

According to Shakdam, it would be a "great mistake" for the global powers to try to understand the world and the Middle East without Iran "as an active partner."

"Iran has a role to play as a peacemaker and not as a warmonger, and this is absolute key. This deal is telling the world that Iran is willing to extend a friendly hand – maybe a cautious hand, but friendly nevertheless. This is why a lot of the narrative coming out of the Middle East, Europe and Iran is actually positive.

At the same time, Shakdam described what she called a "shift of power" on the geopolitical stage since the US neoconservatives have had "the wind removed from their sails," which she said would "absolutely uproot everything." Now that the specter of military conflict between the West and Iran has significantly reduced, Iran can work as a viable partner alongside the United States and its allies, especially against ISIS [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL].

"The Americans will benefit greatly to have Iran on their side rather than against them. And for all those people that have been plotting wars – in Libya, Egypt, in all those countries were radicalism is burgeoning and spreading like wildfire, Iran has a role to play… A lot of the language coming out of the Middle East will change because Iran is back in the conversation, rather than Saudi Arabia hugging all the rhetoric."

Shakdam also touched upon the subject of the US missile defense system slated for Eastern Europe that is supposed to protect Europe from rogue states, such as Iran. However, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the American plan is now redundant now that Iran's nuclear program has been placed in check.

SERGEY LAVROV: We all remember how President Barack Obama said in Prague back in April 2009 that if there is a deal on the Iranian nuclear program, there will be no need to create a European segment of missile defense. We brought up that fact to our American colleagues today and we are awaiting their reaction.

Shakdam believes that the Americans are "very unlikely to do that," rather there will be "a change in dynamic" with Iran being included into international organizations as a key player.

"We could argue that Iran could even enter the Shanghai Agreements, which is the equivalent of the NATO Agreements, and that would be a great thing to do because then the world would be safer. We would have two great powers committed to peace rather than a great superpower messing up the dynamics in the rest of the world."

'We are not done yet'

Foad Izadi (Still from Press TV video)Foad Izadi, Professor of political communication at the University of Tehran, echoed the comments of other experts by warning that the agreement still must be ratified by the US Congress, and many groups will be working very hard to derail the process.

"We have to remember that this is an initial agreement, it has to go to the US Congress and we don’t know what will happen, we don’t know how the vote is going to come out. We are not done yet," Izadi said. "So given the history of the last 60-70 years in US-Iran relations a lot of people are basically worried."

When asked if Israel will try to undermine this treaty, the Iranian professor said Netanyahu already said "he is going to do all he can to basically derail these negotiations, this agreement that has been reached."

Izadi then touched upon the subject of the Israeli Lobby in the United States, which ranks as the most powerful foreign lobbying group in Washington.

"The Israeli lobby as you know in the US is quite powerful, we have to make sure that the influence the Israeli lobby has on the US Congress is not going to cause serious difficulties for this process. And we have to remember that President Obama is going to be in office for another 19 months or so. In January 2017 a new president will come to office."

The Iranian professor reminded that 47 Republican senators wrote a letter to the Iranian leaders during the negotiating process that stated: “If you sign an agreement with President Obama – that’s going to be with President Obama, when he is gone we are not going to follow the agreement”.

"If we get a Republican president in the US we may actually have the problem of the US not following the route," he warned. "People like Chuck Schumer, the New York Senator, who is going to be a minority leader in the US Senate, has had negative comments about this process. So I think we are done with one stage of this process, a huge step, but we need to make sure that we are not going to face difficulties down the road."

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.