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Beyond Nuclear Negotiations 8 avril 2015

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Russia / Russie, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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Today’s Zaman (Turkey) April 8, 2015, p. 11

by Beril Dedeoglu

The deal that has been announced following the marathon talks between Iran and the 5+1 group is probably one of the most spectacular diplomatic achievements of these past years. It seems that the US’s decision to incorporate Iran into the international system was a good one.

Easing the tension with Iran will have three important consequences: First, Iran will not be condemned to cooperate with Russia anymore; second, it will not have to get economically more involved with China and, third, a number of European countries such as Germany will no longer have a special place in Iran’s diplomacy.

In other words, the nuclear talks will rearrange the US-Russia balance in the Middle East, and remind the European powers that they will not be allowed to establish relations with the region without the US’s approval.

Iran has promised not to build nuclear weapons, but it wasn’t even sure that Iran was building them in the first place. In a sense, Iran didn’t lose anything and, moreover, the sanctions will be lifted. So what has Iran accepted to give to the great powers in exchange?

We will better see in the future what the Iranian regime will do to gives « thanks » for this very advantageous deal. Iran will probably help to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaeda in the region and will have to work together with the West in areas like Yemen. Thus Tehran will have to slow down its traditional policy of expanding its regional influence.

Iran’s new policy will force a number of countries in the region to change their position as well. If Iran is no longer perceived as a threat to the regional order, how will Israel be able to pursue its antagonist policy towards Tehran? What pretext will the Benjamin Netanyahu government use to justify its inertia in the Palestinian problem? Similarly, what will Saudi Arabia do without the « Shia threat »?

Iran’s new attitude will also have an impact in Turkish foreign policy. Maybe Ankara will find it more reasonable to develop economic ties with Iran, rather than with countries like Libya, Syria or Yemen that will remain unstable for many years to come. Besides, Turkey will be obliged to reinforce its ties with all the players in the region and not only with the Sunni ones.

Iran’s new role will also have an influence over Turkey’s policy towards the West. At a time when Iran has decided to get closer to the Western powers, Turkey has no choice but to get closer to them even more if it wants to preserve its clout in the region. In other words, Iran’s deal with the West will encourage Turkey to reinforce its ties with Europe.

It is known that Turkey and Iran have a complex relationship, a combination of rivalry and cooperation. The new situation will reinforce both cooperation and rivalry between these two countries. In this context, Iran and Turkey will have to emphasize that their respective roles are indispensable to the international system. Iran is important because of its natural resources and also because of its key position in the Caspian Basin and its contacts with Central Asia.

As for Turkey, its importance in the east Mediterranean, its strong links with the Western world and the nature of its political regime will count. If Turkey wants to preserve its influence and its comparative advantage, it will have to normalize its relations with key players of the east Mediterranean and then to promote its democracy.

If Turkey manages to achieve that, it will be even more influential in the region than it is today and then explore new ways to deepen its cooperation with Iran. If not, it will find it hard to preserve its existing influence.

In brief, the negotiations with Iran are not only about nuclear weapons. Through these negotiations, the system’s major powers are trying to design the entire region and the foreign policy directions of more than one country.

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