Opinion: Take Time Looking At the Iran Deal

It has been almost a week since the historic deal between Tehran and the West was agreed upon in Vienna. However, it only took a few hours after the deal before those opposed to it would voice their concerns. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on CBS’s Face the Nation “I think this is a very bad deal with a very bad regime. It’s not good for anyone’s security.” In addition, members of the Republican caucus also showed disdain for the agreement. Regarding the agreement, Senator John McCain a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee stated “Ultimately, the problem with this agreement is that it is built far too much on hope — on the belief that somehow the Iranian government will fundamentally change in the next several years, such that it can be trusted with a growing arsenal, a huge influx of cash and the infrastructure of a nuclear program.” Even members of Obama’s party are not quick to jump up and support the deal, Nancy Pelosi is one of the few democrats who have backed the agreement.

In addition to lawmakers and foreign dignitaries showing their displeasure for the talks, Republican presidential hopefuls such as Jeb Bush raised the alarm saying America’s security is now at greater risk. Senator Marco Rubio has championed a petition against the deal. Even before the agreement can be implemented it appears that there will be a hurdle here at home to get this deal passed in the House.

However, before labeling the agreement as weak and a pathway to a nuclear weapon, one must observe the history between the two nations. Seeing that history, one may develop a different view to the agreement. In 1953 the United States with the British would help and support a coup in Iran of their first democratically elected prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh for the Shah. As a consequence of the coup, the Shah would increase the number of political prisoners and violate the basic human rights of the Iranian people with deep repression. The outcome of the coup would only be seen 26 years later with the Islamic Revolution and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei taking the lead role in the country’s affairs.

Another blunder in American foreign policy in the Middle East, would be during the Iran-Iraq War. The United States would go ahead and provide weapons, including chemical weapons to former dictator Saddam Hussein. Those very same chemical weapons would be used on the civilian population of Iran. Ironically, the United States would topple the Iraqi dictator after its invasion in 2003.

However, Iran is not innocent of creating mistrust with the United States as well. Iran in the past and in recent times has arrested foreign travelers and charged them with crime of spying for a foreign government. The Iranian government also sponsors Hezbollah and more recently Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Essentially, this agreement is a new beginning between the West and Iran. Currently, the West and Iran have a common enemy, and that is ISIS. In Iraq, Iran has military advisors in the country and some reports have surfaced that members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have partaken in operations with Shiite militias in the Anbar province as well as with Iraqi forces. The agreement can help by placing a much greater focus on how to combat the militant group that continues to grow and spread throughout the Middle Eastern region.

Those opposed to the agreement wanted one where Iran completely dismantled its nuclear program. However, those who argue against the deal should acknowledge that at-least Iran came to the table. With this in mind, turning the attention to the Asian Pacific, North Korea has made it publicly known that they are in possession of nuclear weapons. The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has also stated that he plans to increase the number of warheads to one hundred by 2020. Under the young Korean leader, political prison camps have increased under fifty percent. On the subject of Kim Jong Un, he has sentenced members of his military staff to death and would have his uncle killed and immediately fed to dogs. However, the same uproar that we hear on Iran is only miniscule to that on North Korea.

First of all, the deal cuts Iran’s chances to develop a nuclear weapon in a significant way. They are barred from the development of advanced centrifuges that allow for the development of enriched uranium to be used for a nuclear weapon. This part of the agreement will only be in place for ten years and after that would be lifted immediately. Secondly, within the agreement, Iran has agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wherever and whenever. However, a notice would be issued to the country 24 days prior to their visit. Thirdly, the deal allows for an arms embargo and a missile ballistic embargo to be lifted in five years for the former and eight years for the latter. Lastly Iran has agreed to get rid of 98% of their onhand stockpile of enriched uranium. In exchange for compliance with the deal the sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy would be lifted.

A possible consequence with the lifting of sanctions on Iran, the country would now be exposed to trade and take part in business ventures that previously were blocked by the sanctions. During the placement of the sanctions the Iranian rial suffered a sixty percent dropped and inflation was at a rate of forty percent. The cost of living in the country was very unsustainable for the average Iranian. With this opportunity, Iran would now generate growth at a rate of eight percent GDP by the end of 2016.

Society in Iran will now be able to reap the benefits of a more inclusive Iran to the world economy. By becoming a major player in the world now, Iran will be “pressured” to assure that basic human rights are being followed. Furthermore, as the people of Iran feel less of a squeeze from the economic sanctions once placed, the Iranian population can now be focused on pressing their government for more political and basic freedoms. After the election of President Rouhani, and his appointment of ministers who have western education have propelled their country in the nuclear talks and may be the reformers that lead Iran to what many westerners do not see possible, a somewhat inclusive Islamic Republic. Speaking about the social impact of the deal Time magazine would state “Scaling back sanctions will also help Iran keep its best and brightest at home. From 2009 to 2013, more than 300,000 Iranians left the country in search of better opportunities abroad. Today, 25 percent of Iranians with a post-graduate education live in developed OECD countries outside Iran. This is, by some estimates, the highest rate of “brain drain” in the world. According to the World Bank, the Iranian economy loses out on $50 billion annually as talent looks elsewhere for work. Removal of sanctions will persuade some educated Iranians to take their chances at home.”

Lastly with Iranian oil being able to flow into the markets the price for crude oil may see a decrease of five to fifteen dollars. This is a result with the mass production by OPEC nations as well as the United States, creating the overabundance of oil and now adding Iran will actually help the American consumer and driver.

In conclusion, the Iran deal may provide an opportunity for the Islamic Republic to develop a nuclear weapon. However, North Korea who has been handed the most stiffen of sanctions has still been able to produce a nuclear weapon. Furthermore during the post war years of World War II the west made every effort to prevent the Russians from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As we all know that goal was unattainable. Thirdly Iran has signed a Nuclear Proliferation Treaty something that North Korea has yet to do and Israel itself has abstained from signing such a treaty. Those who oppose to the deal will say we were cheated but were we? We have halted their nuclear ambitions for ten years compared to the possibility of them obtaining one in a year or less, if they were pursuing a weapon. The mistrust that both sides have created over the years can now be reset with this deal and future cooperations in the region. Before we go and dismantle the deal before it is even implemented maybe we should give it a chance and focus on a collaboration to push back ISIL.

Phillips, D. (2015, July 15). After nuclear deal, what’s next for Iran? Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/15/after-iran-nuclear-deal-whats-next-commentary.html

Crichton, K., & Sanger, D. (2015, July 13). Who Got What They Wanted in the Iran Nuclear Deal. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/14/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-deal-who-got-what-they-wanted.html

Theobald, B. (2015, July 15). Arizona Republicans criticize Iran nuclear deal. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/politics/2015/07/16/arizona-republicans-criticize-iran-nuclear-deal/30225729/

Trimm, T. (2015, July 14). Republicans hate the Iran nuclear deal because it means we won’t bomb Iran. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/14/republicans-hate-iran-nuclear-deal

JAHANBEGLOO, R. (2015, July 19). Nuclear agreement a boost to civil society in Iran — but also to proxy wars. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/nuclear-agreement-a-boost-to-civil-society-in-iran-but-also-to-proxy-wars-1.1552821

Portlock, S. (2015, July 19). Netanyahu Vows to Keep Fighting Iran Nuclear Deal. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/07/19/netanyahu-vows-to-keep-fighting-iran-nuclear-deal/

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World Leaders Asleep on The Wheel

Prior to 2014, Iraq was facing a huge rise of vehicle borne IED attacks as well as suicide attacks. Majority of the attacks targeted Shiite cities and neighborhoods. In addition to these attacks, parts of the Middle East began to see the once all mighty dictator fall to the pressure of not only inside forces but as well as foreign intervention as well. Countries such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria would see challenge from the people demanding change, demanding what we called freedom. Each but one country would see their leader be forced from power. The former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi would be captured and killed by anti-Gaddafi forces, in Egypt Mubarak would step down and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Morsi would fill in the vacancy-only to be forced out by his appointee Abdel Fattah el-Sisi- and lastly Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has managed to hold power up to this point.

Since then there has been sever tension in the Middle-East region due to the rise of ISIS or ISIL. The instability that has been produced by the fall of some of the dictators and a much exclusive system in Iraq provided the ingredients for a strong power vacuum. That vacuum has been filled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with the group capturing huge swaths of Syria and Iraq. However, as the group began to gain media attention it was time that world leaders did not understand was of importance.

The Syrian Civil War has been raging on for approximately four and a half years and continues to wage on to this day. The response from the world can be describe as lethargic and unwilling to attempt to quell the violence in the country. The only answer that foreign governments have introduced has been massive flow of weapons and military supplies. It can be said that many nations are fearful of military intervention, for one can point to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as an example to stray away from actual intervention.

As the west and other nations such as: Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have aided rebels with weapons to fight Assad forces, while Iran and Russia have been in full support of the regime by supplying them weapons as well. The problem with the fluctuation of weapons to anti-Assad forces is being able to distinguish friend from foe. The Syrian rebels are so fractured that some have pledged allegiance to the Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front or other militant groups.

In addition to weapons being given to unknown organizations, ISIL has recovered a good amount of military supplies from surrendering Iraqi forces. The equipment that was surrender as ISIL made their blitzkrieg sweep through Iraq, was issued by the United States and funded by tax-payer funds. As ISIL encountered one victory after another in Iraq, it was apparent that the “junior varsity team” that President Obama famously stated in an interview with Meet the Press, the group was a much bigger threat then perceived in the beginning.

It should be noted that during their “conquest” the group was as welcoming as the Nazis were when they invaded Russia. It was reported that the group made a group of women and children to dig an huge hole and were then buried alive in the very hole they were forced to dig up. What is more alarming is the mass beheadings that the group has committed in the past year and a half and the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot.

As ISIL continues it’s atrocities the United States and it’s coalition (Europeans and including some Gulf States) have gone to an ariel warfare to attempt to “destroy” and “cripple” the organization. The battle on the ground has been taken by various groups in Iraq. As there American advisors in the country of Iraq, Iran has sent their Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimanni as an advisor to Iraqi forces. However, as reported by Reuters, Iran may already have combat forces on the ground assisting Shiite forces in Iraq to push back ISIL from the areas they have already captured. The author of the article Iran’s Elite Guards Fighting in Iraq to Push Back Islamic State, Babak Dehghanpisheh, writes “Shirkhani did not die in a battle inside Iran. He was killed nearly a hundred miles away from the Iranian border in a mortar attack by the militants of the Islamic State “while carrying out his mission to defend” a revered Shiite shrine in the city of Samarra, according to a report on Basij Press, a news site affiliated with the Basij militia which is overseen by the Revolutionary Guards.” The man he mentions–Kamal Shirkhani– died in the city Samarra located deep inside of Iraq.

In addition to Iran forces playing an active role in the fighting against ISIL, the United States has continued its air campaign and has coordinated with the Iraqi forces on the ground. Furthermore, Iraqi forces have recaptured Tikirt, Saddam Huessein’s hometown but ever since then Iraqi forces have slowed down to a crawl in pushing ISIL further back. Reports have emerged that the Iraqi government would execute a large scale military attack this week in the Anbar province area of Iraq.

The announcement of the offensive maneuver can only be taken with a grain a salt because the Iraqi government made an announcement similar to this in May and the plan never turned into fruition. However, with a lackluster air campaign which has not halted the advancement of ISIL, world leaders have offered no alternative to the problem.

As they have slept at the wheel with the situation in the Middle East, ISIL has shown its presence in other parts of the region. The United States is attempting to find a North African country to allow it to base drones out of the country and allow a few hundred military personnel to man and command a drone squadron. The reason for this new strategy is to as stated by The Journal to provide U.S. Military and its intelligence agencies real time information in the country of Libya. The country has been facing de-stabilization ever since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 providing a power vacuum for the extremist group. Furthermore, the group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an Italian consulate in Egypt, luckily no one was injured or killed on the attack.

The organization once consider to be a junior varsity team is in possession of more finances than Al-Qaeda possessed before the September 11th attacks. During their blitzkrieg offense last summer, the group raided the Monsul Central Bank, taking with it five hundred billion dollars and euros mixed together, as well as some gold reserves. In addition to the stolen funds, the group has also used kidnappings and ransoms to garner funds. Lastly they have also sold oil illegally that they have seized from some of the oil fields in Iraq. It has been estimated that the group makes a million dollars a day off the black market oil that they sell.

The threat is growing stronger as the world continues to kick the can with ISIL. The problem is not whether they can be beat militarily, the problem is how do you create stability again. There is no question that the more that ISIL spreads it becomes much more difficult to control them and creates a potential conflicts on many fronts. For example even if combat forces were sent into Iraq and pushed ISIL out of the country they would go to their next safe haven, Syria. Seeing that, one can see that the problem would only re-emerge in Iraq after military forces leave the country and we would be where we started.

As the problem continues to spread and no action from world leaders in truly pushing for a joint military operation, ISIL will continue to spread like a cancer. It will use the same tactics it used in Iraq and has been using in Egypt and Libya recently. The use of suicide bombings and vehicle borne IEDs to create de-stabilization and instill fear into those citizens. This organization is a extreme to Al-Qaeda and present a much more bigger threat. With the increase of foreign fighters, world governments must not only pay close attention to the Middle East but they must also pay close attention to the security at home.

DEHGHANPISHEH, B. (2014, August 3). Iran’s Elite Guards Fighting in Iraq to Push Back Islamic State. Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/08/03/uk-iraq-security-iran-insight-idUKKBN0G30GG20140803

PressTV-US to send drones to fight ISIL in Libya. (2015, July 13). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2015/07/13/420029/US-drone-military-base-North-Africa-ISIL-Libya-Iraq-Syria

ISIL claims responsibility for deadly car bomb blast at Italian consulate in Cairo. (2015, July 12). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.9news.com.au/world/2015/07/11/15/47/car-bomb-hits-italian-consulate-in-cairo

United States Department of Defense. (2015, July 11). Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=129259

Miles, K. (2014, September 10). ISIS Is A Threat To U.S. Interests, Top Official Says. Here’s What’s Being Done About It. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/10/isis-threat-america_n_5788142.html

Chandler, A. (2015, July 1). ISIS Kills 50 Egyptian Soldiers in Sinai Peninsula. Retrieved July 14, 2015, from http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2015/07/isis-kills-50-egyptian-soldiers-sinai-peninsula/116797/