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The Geneva Breakthrough
This is a positive and historic development. Not only will it relieve pressure on ordinary Iranian people, it will also empower the country’s reformists. It will also put the interests of the powerful merchant against the interests of the hardliners. It will erode the power of hawks not just in Iran, but also the US and Israel.
This also creates an opening for a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Syria. Until now Iran’s hardliners have been running amuck in Syria, and the IRGC has been actively at war. Now Iran has something to lose. The US has gained leverage that until now it didn’t have. It is now in a position to pressure Iran to drop its support for Assad. Given the fragility of the entente, the last thing Iran would want is to jeopardise it by continuing a policy with an uncertain end.
I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.
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2 thoughts on “The Geneva Breakthrough”
Idrees and I have a slight disagreement here, and nothing wrong with that. I am in full agreement with the first paragraph. I have two issues with the Syria paragraph, however.
My two points are, firstly, that this agreement may or may not lead to a gradual change in Iran and a development of its political leadership and positions. Syria, however, does not have time to watch this long process unfold. Currently a third of Syrians are homeless. Over 150 Syrians were killed yesterday by the Assadist-Iranian-Russian war machine.
Secondly, I see no reason to believe that the Obama administration is interested in pressuring Iran over Syria. The US has actively prevented the Syrian resistance from receiving serious weaponry from Gulf donors. It isn’t at all clear that the US or Israel want the Assad regime to fall (in fact there’s a lot more evidence that they want it to stay). A few months ago the US effectively acknowledged that Syria belongs in the Russian imperial sphere of influence. This agreement could well herald an acknowledgment that Syria also belongs in the Iranian sphere of influence.
For now, the Syrians will not be wasting time dreaming that their American and Iranian ‘friends’ will decide to be nice. The only sure and immediate way of reducing Iranian interference in Syria is to defeat Iran on the battle field. Today’s good news is that many Iranian thugs were killed in an operation which broke the regime siege of the eastern Ghouta.
The U.S. was in secret talks with Iran for a year. This explains why the promised weapons never showed up at Idriss’s address meanwhile Iran poured billions of dollars and thousands of fighters to slaughter Syrians.
Iran’s rulers have traded nuclear weapons potential to double down on their defeat in Syria and found a willing partner in Washington who is more than happy to see the revolution and the counter-revolution bleed each other dry.