After talks in Geneva an agreement has finally been reached between Iran and the 5+1 group (US, China, Great Britain, Russia, France and Germany). The deal to curb Iran’s nuclear activities will last for six months while a permanent agreement is sought. In return President Obama talked about easing sanctions and releasing $4.2 billion in frozen assets.
The West, specifically the US, cannot ignore Iran and its role and influence in the region. The election of a more moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, in June 2013 created a situation where all the interested parties could go back to the negotiation table without losing face. After a two week interruption caused by France’s aim to please Israel and Saudi Arabia, the two opponents of the deal, the news about a preliminary agreement between Iran and the 5+1 group covered the front page of all publications around the world.
Iranian people took to social media and the streets to show their support for the elimination of sanctions and military attack. A large group welcomed Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Tehran airport. They chanted supportive slogans and demanded freedom to all political prisoners at the same time.
Pre-deal relations with Iran
The US overthrew Iran's democratically elected government in 1953 and installed a brutal dictator, the Shah. In 1979 a revolution overthrew the Shah, removing US control--and its for this reason, not the repression of the Iranian regime that followed, that the West has been hostile to Iran since then. After September 11, 2001 the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq with the intention of then invading Syria and Iran. But resistance to these occupations created quagmires, and Iran has increased its influence in the region.
Beginning in 2002 Javad Zarif, who was Iran’s representative at the United Nation, was closely linked with a plan called “Grand Bargain” to resolve the outstanding issues between the US and Iran. During this time Zarif held many private meetings with Washington politicians including Joe Biden and Chuck Hagel who were senators during that period. Despite all attempts, when the information of the Natanz uranium facility was published by an Iranian opposition group, believed to be provided by Mossad, the plan came to a halt and the animosity between the two governments intensified.
In the past 10 years, even after Bush left office, the talk about Iran’s nuclear program never left the headlines. After so many extensive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) there is no precise report on the true nature of this program, but it has been used by Western powers as an excuse to strain the Iranian government's ability to maneuver in the region--including its $7 billion loan to Syria and strong support for Assad.
Like Western threats of war on Syria--using Assad's repression as an excuse for a war which would only make conditions worse--the West is using the Iranian regime as an excuse for brutal sanctions and episodic threats of war that punish the people. It is also hypocritical coming from the 5+1 group who are themselves nuclear armed, and who support nuclear armed Israel.
While we have to wait to see how this conditional agreement develops in the next six months, it is shameful that Harper led Canada into the camp of warmongers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, by dismissing the prospect of peace and balking at lifting any of its sanctions against Iran. Until a few months ago, in a humanitarian pretence, John Baird was associating the sanctions with the violation of human rights in Iran but the new condition mentioned in his talk of November 24 asks for full abolition of the program. Being in solidarity with people in Iran means insisting on their right to self-determination free from sanctions and foreign interventions.