How to ensure a nuke deal with Iran

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
[PHOTO: Yeowatzup/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]
By Dr. Behrooz Behbudi*
In Washington President Obama is challenging a new push by Republicans and Democrats in Congress for another immediate round of sanctions on the Iranian economy. At the same time in Tehran President Rouhani is desperate to get the existing sanctions removed. If Obama fails in his bid he will still remain in his post, while a failure for Rouhani will have detrimental consequences for the Islamic republic and the Middle East region.

"I will veto a bill [for new sanctions] that comes to my desk," President Obama said in response to a question at a joint news conference with the visiting British Prime Minister, underlining his decision to continue with the current negotiations with Iran "until they play out".

The latest threat to the success of a nuclear deal with Iran comes on the heels of the Paris atrocities, which has once again raised the growing fear of terrorism, and how the bloody Middle Eastern politics and conflicts are now spilling over into Western capitals.

It goes without saying that the type of terrorism that the world is now facing has its roots in state sponsored ideologies, with the Iranian regime as one of its instigators, despite prettifying and justifying it as promoting "Islamic principles".

With its heavy military involvement in the trouble spots of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and North Africa, the Iranian regime regards itself as the bastion of "revolutionary Islam", in opposing the influence of the conservative Arab states among the Muslims. The Shia v Sunni differences of the two camps make matters worse, effectively leading to a new era in the history of Islam whence Muslims are at war with each other.

The general view in Washington is that with President Hassan Rouhani in power the Western world has found a political partner in Iran who is willing to bring peace between Iran and its Muslim neighbours and make a compromise on the nuclear issue, thereby removing the threat of a nuclear race in a region already fraught with, wars, terrorism and anarchy.

True, Rouhani, in fear of an economic collapse of the Islamic republic under the sanctions is willing to make such a compromise. However, he only represents one faction of the Islamic republic. The other faction, led by the supreme leader ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his close ideological associates among the top brass of the Revolutionary Guard, see an eventual nuclear deal with the West as the beginning of the end of their political power in Iran.

A close look at the record of Rouhani's government so far tells us that he has not been able to deliver any major social or economic reforms to the Iranian society as with the absolute rule of Khamenei within the medieval notion of Velayate Faghih (Islamic government) "the post of President in Iran is nothing more than a subordinate of the supreme leader", as the former reformist president Mohammad Khatami once said in justifying his own failures.

With this reality of Iran's leadership structure, even a "final deal" on the nuclear issue that President Obama is so firmly pursuing, there is no guarantee that it would last, once he or his counterpart in Tehran are out of office.

World powers need to make sure that any such deal, once agreed, will also be signed by ayatollah Khamenei and commanders of the Revolutionary Guard. It is only then and there that these true holders of power in Iran can demonstrate their commitment to peace in the Middle East and prosperity for the Iranian people.

(*Dr. Behrooz Behbudi is the Founder of Centre for a Democratic Iran (CDI). He can be reached at contact(at) Views expressed by him in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of
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