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Opinion: Many winners in deal with Iran

The compromise reached on Iran's nuclear program has advantages for many parties involved. But the agreement is far from a happy end, writes Jamsheed Faroughi, the head of DW's Persian service.

The biggest winner in the deal is clearly the Iranian people. The so-called "intelligent" sanctions have been intended to hit primarily those in power in Iran. Sanctions against oil and gas exports were instituted to restrict the wellspring of the theocracy's finances in a serious and enduring fashion. And in fact, measures taken by Iran's international opponents largely succeeded in reaching those goals. However, the sanctions enriched with intelligence have also caused much more damage than planned, and it was primarily the Iranian people who bore the brunt.

Jamsheed Faroughi Photo: DW/Per Henriksen

Jamsheed Faroughi, head of DW's Persian Service

Thanks to a rather inexplicable sense of national pride, some Iranians stood behind the regime's strange atomic program. But when you're starving, yellowcakes are hardly an alternative to bread. The Iranian people wanted a quick escape from isolation. They hoped for an improvement of economic conditions through a relaxing or even a removal of sanctions, sought greater openness from the country's political leaders and desired more rights and freedom.

The election of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was the product of these demands, and Iranians were hoping for a miracle in Geneva.

Changing course

The regime can also count itself a winner. The sanctions amounted to nothing other than a creeping death. The true causes of the government's decision to change course are many: terror strikes, like the one this week in Beirut; increasing tensions between the government and religious minorities, such as in Iran's Kurdish and Baloch regions; general dissatisfaction among the population; secret interventions in domestic affairs conducted by neighboring states; and, most importantly, the danger of military intervention. As such, the new compromise on Iran's atomic program spells more security and the prospect of continued rule for the country's leaders - that is, as long as Rouhani comes through on his election campaign pledges.

Coming to an agreement with Iran was essential for the US and other Western countries, as well. The world cannot afford a new Cold War in the Middle East. Following withdrawals of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the country's future is uncertain; Islamists have found a new home in Pakistan; the security situation in Iraq remains precarious; and Syria's civil war continues unabated. Ultimately, the tree of the Arab Spring has borne bitter fruit.

Waging a new war in the area, given the current state of affairs, would be almost crazy. A clear "no" to war should prove the most sensible way to propel the peaceful and diplomatic solution to the nuclear conflict with Iran.

A first step

But many have also profited from the long-running dispute and the embargo against Iran. Cheap gas and oil, inexpensive trade deals, the forwarding of replacement parts and trade goods, as well as the country's currency course offer a few examples.

Turkey, Russia, China, the United Arab Emirates and even Afghanistan have capitalized on the situation. Although some of these countries will not be happy about a normalization of relations between the "Great Satan" and the "Axis of Evil," they also do not want to see a new Cold War in the region. Even Israel doesn't seek a war but merely security guarantees.

The agreement is only a first step toward putting the nuclear conflict with Iran to rest. It's probably true that this deal will not be a cure-all for the problems at hand. Clearly it's too soon to rest on any laurels and hope for a happy end. The situation remains explosive, and Iran's rapprochement with the West does not please everyone. But that's hardly a surprise.

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