Opinion: A historic moment - with a question mark | Opinion | DW | 03.04.2015
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Opinion: A historic moment - with a question mark

The agreement over Iran's nuclear program is good news, both for the region and the international community. But whether it will resolve the nuclear conflict remains an open question, writes DW's Jamsheed Faroughi.

"Deal or no deal" - that's been the question for 12 years. The world has watched Lausanne, where the line between hope and trepidation, success and failure, was wafer-thin.

Finally there was good news for a region in which it tends to be in short supply. The framework agreement in the nuclear dispute is undoubtedly a historic moment, not just for Iran or the Middle East, but for the global community.

Unfortunately, the agreement in Lausanne must be enjoyed with great caution because the devil is in the details.

Triumph of reason

It hasn't been the first time that negotiations on Iran's nuclear program took on mammoth dimensions or turned into a game of poker. In the end, there were two options on the table: a win-win solution or a lose-lose catastrophe. Reason won out.

It was a serious game involving fateful questions with unpredictable effects on global politics. The fact that some of the most important politicians in the world took so much time for this highlights the major significance of the negotiations for the veto powers and Germany - not to mention for Iran.

When this round of nuclear poker began in Lausanne, US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif likely knew very well that they couldn't return home with empty hands. Their task was clear: Negotiate for as long as it takes to reach an agreement. And they did just that. Now a fundamental deal has been achieved. But was it worth the level of engagement it required? Is it the result that people in Iran and the West had hoped for? The answer is straight-forward: yes!

Agreement is vital for Iran

For Iran's rulers, achieving a deal at this juncture in time is essential for survival. The domestic economy is seriously suffering under the burden of sanctions. Financial life has ground to a halt. Rampant inflation has devoured Iranians' spending power. Unemployment and a lack of prospects have brought young people, in particular, to the brink of despair. Not to be discounted is the danger of a new war with an alliance of Arab states under Saudi Arabia's leadership, which contributed to Iran ultimately saying "yes."

The situation is extremely serious. After the air strikes on Houthi rebels in Yemen, the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is entering a new phase. The struggle for power in Yemen has the potential of setting the Middle East ablaze. Yemen would be just one battlefield in a much larger war in the entire region.

The real work begins now

The recent failure in the nuclear negotiations strengthened the position of those who opposed a deal. That was clear to Iran's government and even the ultra-conservatives around the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Using diplomacy to overcome the nuclear dispute with Iran is US President Barack Obama's most significant foreign policy achievement. But the real work is just now starting. The agreement in Lausanne possibly represents a solution for the nuclear conflict with Iran, but the emphasis is on "possibly." After all, the opponents of this deal are many and powerful. They have three months' time to destroy everything that's been achieved.

Threats from many sides

After the news of success in Lausanne, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was one of the first to respond and issue a sharp criticism of the agreement. He's clearly not alone in his opposition - if one recalls the big applause he got when he recently held his fiery speech before Congress. Also not to be forgotten is the letter 47 US senators wrote to the Iranian government in which they threatened to nullify an agreement in the post-Obama era.

Regional powers like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are also vehemently opposed to a nuclear deal with Iran - as are the hardliners in the country itself. Setting aside the conflict over Iran's atomic program could bring Tehran and Washington closer together and lead to Iran's return to the international community. That's precisely what these powers want to prevent.

This agreement - sought for so long by many - should now be delivered to safety as quickly as possible. Its opponents are numerous, and they're also a force to be reckoned with.

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