By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Iran’s diplomacy has gone nuclear. It appears to be paying off with an incredible success. Washington is meeting with Tehran on Monday and Tuesday to negotiate the matter in Geneva with its top people.
Things are looking up for a once isolated pariah state called Iran. As to their national interests and state objectives, they are achieving a victory in almost all of them: Syrian President Bashar al Assad is ensconced in rule amidst the Civil War with the help of the Iran’s backing; Tehran now enjoys a permanent seat of political influence in Shiite dominated Iraq; Russia is brokering large multibillion dollar deals; and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is planning a personally visit to Turkey on Monday to sign six political and economic agreements and discussions on regional strategy; and mega rival Islamic state Saudi Arabia has called for a meeting of a temporary truce.
Iran’s political gains are the result of reinvigorating its diplomatic corps with bright strategic thinkers well versed in the international world around them and maximizing the use of diplomacy through state craft in varied flexible experiments that have catered largely to its favor. It has flexibly adapted and changed statecraft without altering its objectives.
A massive total commitment combined informational and diplomatic reshuffling ensured Iran a place of regional political ascendance. Propaganda has been sophisticated as well as more legitimate news reporting activity. Meanwhile, regional power broker Saudi Arabia is getting the short-end of the stick by refusing to play or engage Western interests or favors, like that the seat they refused at the UN Security Council or bitter sentiments and rallying Sunni extremists not too far off from the views of al Qaeda; or supporting military rule in Egypt, a player that has lost projective power into the region as it drifts inward to deal with and imprison dissent and political Islamist rivals.
Interestingly, even Tehran’s relations with Israel have ratcheted-down from their height. Also the replacement of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with a new the consistent positive spin by the Rouhani government has had some effect on the more moderate Israelis.
Everyone is drinking the Persian Kool-Aid in the region. Whether they want to or not they are becoming the instruments of a great manipulator and that is exactly how a state in the 21st century gains in-roads and climbs the latter- face-first through massive information, outreach and diplomacy initiatives- new ideas and proposals in a changing strategic landscape.
Whether Tehran can continue this train or not, or whether they can outsmart the other players on the board is not certain. Iran wants to gain the favor of the world so it is playing to win it. Now, the present strategic defensive is turning into a regional onslaught and has less to do with nuclear weapons and everything to do with political dominance from recovery.
If Iran can gain more by bargaining their nuclear weapons away on the strategic side, why would they not? At the same time, they could still have enough material for maybe a few bombs- a scenario that Israel would find utterly unacceptable; especially since one bomb could destroy their entire existence. Yet Tehran would not likely use it against Europe or the U.S.
An interesting poll of Iranian nationals was conducted by Professor Alex Mintz, who is head of the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. Their survey, taken in May and June, found that about 40 percent of Iranians agreed that Iran should recognize Israel as a state if Israel withdrew from the territories and made a peace deal with Palestine. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working hard on a similar deal this year with much friction from Tel Aviv.
About 74 percent told Professor Mintz’s team that Iran should establish diplomatic relations with the U.S. and trade in spite of the U.S. being the big bad enemy.
It is not just a rubber-stamp Ayatollah foreign policy at play here but the people working towards a more respectable Iran as well. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif submitted a policy paper in 2013 to the Iranian parliament where he said, “In Iran’s view, the nuclear crisis is wholly manufactured and therefore reversible.” That was one paper that really got the ball rolling on both sides of the fence.
Most Iranians want change, trade and relations with the West. For his part, the Ayatollah likely desires the status of courtship that the Saudi Arabians enjoyed by the West as well and of course they want to be a substantial regional player and get into the technology sector. Just what Iran is willing to “reverse” in its nuclear program is the debate and just how much the West is willing to accept in the negotiations coming next week is uncertain.
Iran seems to be gaining the most through a prolonged nuclear diplomacy with the West. It may not be a bargaining chip they will readily part with unless they are offered a better deal; perhaps the frosting on the cake could be a path to restore partial diplomatic relations as President Mohammad Khatami had done with the Europe, earlier.
All-in-all, Iran gains more by giving up more and having more nuclear materials and secrets and hosting international monitors if it breaks them free from Central Asia altogether.
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