NEW CASTLE, PA, October 20, 2015 – Political hardliners in the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and Iran have condemned the Iranian Nuclear Deal since before talks started In their endless attempts to derail talks with Iran, they have forced advocates to defend the very act of talking with Iran.
Unfortunately, this means advocates have become so deeply entrenched in positions that they feel compelled to embrace the Iranian Nuclear Deal without even considering the impact on changing circumstances in the Middle East.
The Russian intervention crisis over Syria and Iran’s support of Russian attacks on Western-backed forces demands a proper reassessment of the Iranian Nuclear Deal.
Although the Iranian Nuclear Deal is important, the world is in a conflict with Russia and Iran, thus the Iranian Nuclear Deal must be embraced within the context of Syria and the Ukraine crisis. Avoiding this reality and implementing the Iranian Nuclear Deal in a political bubble suggests that modern world leaders do not fully comprehend the implications of what a conflict with Russia means.
Considering that about 90 percent of Russian airstrikes target moderate and Western-backed rebels, it is clear that Russia is attempting to bolster the Assad regime. Outside of intensifying anti-American rhetoric and undermining its own credibility with the launch of a ballistic missile, Iran’s support in the Russian intervention demonstrates Iran’s efforts to undermine Western interests.
Releasing up to $150 billion in Iranian assets at a time when Iran is undermining efforts to suppress the Islamic State and stem the cause of the Syrian Refugee Crisis is a foolish move.
Those funds could also be directed to help alleviate the pressure from Western sanctions on Iran’s partner Russia, which would also undermine efforts to address the Ukraine crisis.
That said, the Iranian Nuclear Deal has always been the peaceful alternative to bombing Iran. If Russia decides to protect Syria and Iran from Western intervention, however, the Iranian Nuclear Deal no longer offers any incentive to adhere to the conditions of the deal in the long term.
In other words, Iran can derive the benefits of the Iranian Nuclear Deal now, then restart its nuclear program knowing Russia will defend it from Western bombs. Implementing the deal at this time will, therefore, only strengthen Iran and Russia.
Consequently, it is in Western interests to deny Iran any benefits until the West can solve its broader conflict with Russia.
Furthermore, the Iranian Nuclear Deal is sending the wrong message to the peoples of the Middle East. Even if Russia’s campaign somehow helps stabilize Syria in the end, Western collusion undermines relations with the Middle Eastern revivals of Assad and boosts anti-Western sentiments among the peoples of the Muslim world.
Delaying the implementation of the Iranian Deal does not, however, simply depend on the U.S.’s withdrawing support for the agreement. Because European powers can choose to reverse their own sanctions against Iran, European leaders must be convinced that there is a need to delay implementation until the impact of the deal on the Syrian refugee crisis, the Islamic State threat and the Ukraine crisis can be properly assessed.
Although Europeans face a far more imminent threat from the crises emanating out of Syria, Vladimir Putin has offered the world a seemingly pragmatic solution with Russia’s intervention in Syria.
Framed as an effort to bolster Western goals against the Islamic State and to crush the instability, which is driving so many crises, via the suppression of Assad’s enemies, e.g., those who dissent, Russian intervention in practice is likely to be more of a hindrance than a help. Russia’s efforts to prop up the Assad regime prevent a transition away from the collapsing government, which started the Syrian civil war by bombing its own people. Russia’s targeting of Western-backed rebels is also eliminating the better alternatives to Assad while pressuring more moderate factions to join forces with extremists.
The Iranian Nuclear Deal must be shelved for the time being.