Saturday, November 30, 2013

Iran's Political Capital and the Pursuit of Resolutions

Mohammad Javad Zarif's real mission has just begun. Iran's foreign minister who successfully spear headed Iran's team during the Geneva negotiations that resulted in an initial six month deal, has his work cut out for him. 

Iran acquired considerable political capital after the successful nuclear deal was signed by the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany with Iran. Partial sanctions were lifted, corporations are looking to invest in Iran, Iran's auto industry will receive a significant boost, and 5% enrichment will continue.This diplomatic breakthrough shifted Iran's standing from isolated and sanctioned into an emerging state with considerable domestic industry and international clout. 

While Iran's diplomatic and economic relations with Pakistan and Iraq have been in good standing for more than ten years, Iran's relations with Saudi Arabia have not. Both states clashed over and in Syria. A dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia seems to be a prerequisite before a deal can be reached in the Syrian crisis. The Iranians are heading in that direction by smoothing out relations with Turkey and Egypt in the interim.

The question is how can Iran incorporate its new regional and international political capital to resolve regional files? Iran's role in working on expanding its efforts towards a resolution in the Syrian crisis will help  Iran reposition it as cooperative and solution oriented, rather than the conventional Gulf states perception of Iran as a provocateur.

Foreign minister Zarif has many regional diplomatic trips ahead of him, not that the burden of proving good intentions is solely on Iran, but rather it is a mission of a skilled statesman to invest the acquired political capital where it will bear the most fruit in the long run. The long term strategy is to solidify Iran's new standing with a proactive diplomacy that reaches out of its comfort zone to warm up cold relations.

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