The Iran P5+1 agreement has generated a great deal of debate in the region, with a number of concerns being raised as to how this agreement will impact the GCC states and the greater Middle East. In light of this The Capital Club, Dubai’s premier private business club and member of the ENSHAA group of companies, hosted acclaimed expert on Iranian US relations Dr Trita Parsi in discussion with Gulf News Editor-at-Large Francis Matthew.
Emma Cullen, The Capital Club’s General Manager, commented, “We are thrilled to host such a prominent speaker here at the Club, and on such an important topic. On this occasion, the introduction to Dr Parsi came through esteemed Member and Board of Governor, Mr Abbas Bolurfrushan. We pride ourselves on providing Club Members access to valuable knowledge through events, in an intimate environment. The ability to present questions to some of the World’s foremost experts in a relatively small group is utterly invaluable and forms the basis of the Membership platform.”
In a telling opening statement Dr Parsi indicated a real sense of confidence, remarking, “Having worked on US Iran relations for over 15 years this is one of the few moments when there is a real light at the end of the tunnel.”
He went on to clarify why he believed that there is little chance that the negotiations would be dragged out over a lengthy period of time, stating, “The deal permits both sides, if they both agree, to extend it. However, for clear political reasons it is quite difficult to foresee how the deal could be extended more than once. The Iranians are quite eager to see a quick final resolution, because they know that the real valuable sanctions relief will come into effect at the end of the negotiation process. The shorter the process, the sooner the Iranian government will be able to get the type of sanctions relief they are most eager to bring into effect.”
Dr Parsi emphasised that to date every part of the implementation process on the Iranian side has gone pretty much on track, stressing that the process in moving forward, being successful, and delivering tangible results. The real challenge, however according to Dr Parsi, lies in the next phase, in which negotiations are going to address the type of concessions and compromises that are needed from the American side in order to get the final compromises from the Iranian side.
Addressing fears being voiced in the region that the successful completion of the negotiations would herald a return of the time when Iran was the most important US ally in the region, and how this would impact the political landscape in the GCC and Middle East, Dr Parsi remarked, “Iran is seeking a very prominent position in the region and one way to gain that prominence is to act as the challenger of the most dominant power in the region. The scenario where Iran and the US return to “partnership” relationship, which is causing significant concerns in the region, is therefore extremely unlikely, because it simply isn’t a desired outcome for either side.”
Clarifying the importance of the deal for both the US and Iran, Dr Parsi said, “If the deal goes through and the Iranians sign off on the additional protocol, the US will have in effect succeeded in eliminating ‘an undetectable breakout capability’, meaning that Iran would be incapable of breaking out without being detected very early on in the process. In return Iran gains their rehabilitation into the international community, rehabilitation into the political and economic structures of the region, and perhaps most importantly they gain their dignity, because they have not compromised on the core issue of giving up the right to an enrichment programme. The interim deal makes it very clear there will be an enrichment programme on Iranian soil at the end of the interim process, but also at the end of the final deal. Furthermore the final deal will also expire at a some point in the future, at which point Iran will become a normal country within the Non-Proliferation Treaty, no different from Belgium, Sweden, or Japan. Under those circumstances Iran will have the same rights that any other country in this region has, including the right to build a nuclear facility and infrastructure should it so choose.”
On a cautionary note Dr Parsi further commented that if the negotiations collapse, the outcome would be dependent on why it collapses and who would be held responsible for the collapse. He pointed out that there is and increasingly strong view in Washington DC that if the negotiations collapse, whether they like it or not, there will be forces pushing for some form of military confrontation.
“Unlike previous attempts at diplomacy, which could not be classified as exhaustive, this time around there is in fact an exhaustive attempt at diplomacy. This does not mean that if the talks fail now they could never succeed, but the political reality is that the pressure for taking military action in the United States, both from certain elements inside the country and from some of the allies of the US in the region is going to become overwhelming. And even if President Obama manages to hold that pressure in check for the remainder of his term that does not mean a new president will not have to deal with a major crisis in the first months of his or her presidency,” Dr Parsi remarked.
Farah Al obaidi
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