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Reason's fragile victory

Faroughi Jamsheed Kommentarbild App
Jamsheed Faroughi
January 17, 2016

Iran is celebrating the lifting of economic sanctions and the international community can breathe a sigh of relief, says DW's Jamsheed Faroughi. It's some good news from a part of the world known more for bad headlines.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif
Image: Reuters/L. Foeger

It's the end of the protracted nuclear dispute with Iran. It's the moment people have worked so hard for over 13 long years. A truly historic moment as the EU's foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Jawad Zarif happily announced the official end of the nuclear disagreement.

But to understand how hard reaching the compromise was, we have to look back at the long and stony path necessary to reach this deal. In fact, it's the difficulty involved in coming to an agreement that makes the deal with Iran so valuable.

There were countless rounds of discussions, failed negotiations, short-lived decisions, military threats and comprehensive sanctions. The curious attacks aimed at Iranian nuclear physicists, sabotage, and mysterious cyberattacks that struck Iranian nuclear facilities should also not go unmentioned.

For years stonewalling was Iran's approach to the nuclear negotiations. The leadership in Tehran had even suggested that the sanctions were having no effect. Then the Iranian government called for the immediate lifting of the very same sanctions.

The breakthrough in the nuclear dispute is the greatest diplomatic achievement of US President Barack Obama's administration and at the same time represents a victory for moderate powers in Iran, who finally understood the times we live in and distanced themselves from their country's dangerous nuclear adventures.

Deutsche Welle Persische Redaktion Jamsheed Faroughi
Jamsheed Faroughi heads DW's Farsi departmentImage: DW/P. Henriksen

May the train of reason keep on chugging

So far, so good. But an honest assessment of the situation shows the agreement was a narrow victory for the forces of reason, and their continued success is far from guaranteed as there is unlikely to be any smooth sailing ahead. The agreement's numerous enemies are omnipresent and working on all conceivable regional, national and international levels.

The Iranian population is celebrating the lifting of sanctions. But in Iranian circles of power, there are other groups that have profited for years from the growing tension and violence in the region. It's precisely these groups that need the United States as an enemy - both ideologically and financially. Working in the shadows, many found ways to profit from the sanctions and the crisis they caused.

These are the people whose supporters attack embassies and constantly take to the streets to protest against Israel and the West with inciting words on their lips and burning flags at their feet.

The enemies of this diplomatic victory and those opposed to Iran's return to the international community are working together. In a way, hardliners in Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US presidential candidate Donald Trump and Saudi King Salman all speak, more or less, the same language. They know very well - and fear - the lifting of sanctions that will lead to Iran's closer ties to the West.

The sanctions hit the Iranian economy hard. A rundown industrial complex, lack of investment, little know-how, trade obstacles regarding the export of crude oil and natural gas, as well as crippling financial sanctions, were the heavy burden of a senseless nuclear program. The result? Billions of dollars were thrown away, political opportunities after the Arab world's revolutions were wasted, and Iran was left standing more isolated than ever before.

The lifting of sanctions is the necessary prerequisite for fighting the deplorable state of social affairs, but it is certainly not the key to all problems. No one should be expecting a miracle.

The peaceful settlement of the nuclear dispute is a victory for the reasonable in Iran. Now they have to defend this success from those who wish to attack it at home and abroad. To do anything else would be utterly unreasonable.

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