U.S.-Iran Nuclear Agreement Could Help with Problems in Syria and Iraq

Released: 12/4/2013 8:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Dick Jones Communications
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Citations Middle East Policy Journal

Newswise — The U.S. stands at the brink of its best chance for better relations with Iran than it has had in 34 years—a prospect that would avoid another Persian Gulf conflict. But the agreement with Iran on its nuclear program also could pay dividends in terms of the Syrian crisis and possible enlisting of Iranian support to stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan as the US draws down its military presence in the region.

Those are conclusions from an article appearing in the December 15, 2013 issue of the influential Middle East Policy Journal titled “Iran’s Foreign Policy: A Shifting Strategic Landscape,” by Mahmood Monshipouri and Manochehr Dorraj. Monshipouri is a professor of international relations at San Francisco State University and Dorraj is professor of political science at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

U.S.-led economic sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy, the authors say, resulting in “a staggering rise in the cost of food and basic goods,” an inflation rate of 42 percent, and an unemployment rate of 18 percent. Oil exports have plunged. There is a shortage of medical drugs because Iran can no longer afford to buy the raw materials for drug production.

Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has been under great internal pressure to deliver on the promise of bringing sanctions relief to the Iranian people. “Thus,” says TCU’s Dorraj, “resolving the nuclear standoff with the United States and its allies looms large on his foreign-policy agenda.”

U.S.-Iranian rapprochement on the nuclear issue could lead to the Rouhani administration displaying a greater willingness to be “flexible” on the Syrian question, the authors say. Iran supports the Assad regime in Syria. “Washington is becoming increasingly cognizant that a political settlement in the Syrian crisis may not be sustainable without Iran’s presence at the table,” Dorraj says.

Concerning Iraq, the authors says that the only way to prevent that nation from falling into another cycle of civil war is to “use the capabilities of Saudi Arabia, Iran and other regional powers. In the aftermath of the departure of U.S. forces, the path to stability in Iraq lies in recognizing the positive role Iran and Saudi Arabia can play in ushering in political stability, given the limits of U.S. military power. Washington must come to grips with the forces of history, tradition and geography that have shaped the regional order in the Persian Gulf, a traditional triangle formed by Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.”

An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program will make such an outcome more likely, they argue.