November 17, 2014

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Iran's emerging institutional power and its effect on negotiations with the United States (AHMED E. SOUAIAIA 17 November 2014, openDemocracy)

In the past, the US has argued that hardline figures in the Iranian government are the cause of failed attempts to reach a negotiated agreement. With both Iran's new "moderate" president and the same "hardline" supreme leader committed to negotiations, it is now the US shift in institutional power that is threatening the process and undermining the President's efforts. In other words, the new Congress may render what used to be reassuring American institutional power a thing of the past if President Obama fails to reach a deal within the allotted time--before November 23, which is fast approaching.

Since Iran and the P5+1 inked the interim agreement nearly a year ago, Iran has received some of its frozen assets, continued nuclear research and development without expanding uranium enrichment, and struck a number of trade and economic agreements with a many foreign companies, including European ones. Most of these agreements were structured in a way that would mitigate current or future western sanctions. In other words, with or without agreement, Iran is in a better position than before it signed the interim agreement. If the US keeps its current sanctions or imposes new ones, it would be like someone cutting the branch of a tree they are sitting on. In other words, it would deprive American companies and individuals of opportunities made available to everyone else thanks to the interim agreement.

US policy makers have been accustomed to dealing with Middle Eastern countries that lack established institutional power. It was often the case that when a US administration wanted a particular Middle Eastern country to do something, it simply asked the king, emir, or sheikh of that country to issue a decree. Iran's emerging institutional power requires a new strategy in the Middle East for US foreign policy to be relevant.


Posted by at November 17, 2014 4:45 PM
  

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