The challenges for the JCPOA as a model of regional cooperation
MOJTABA BARGHANDANThe measures to push the Islamic Republic of Iran to isolation were a failed conspiracy. The Iran deal was signed at a juncture when the Middle East was experiencing its worst crisis.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the direct outcome of the new diplomacy of Iran, which managed all counteraction and contradictions to curb its nuclear crisis.
However, in order to understand how the JCPOA can act as a determinant and regulatory mechanism for the region’s security and stability and what the challenges are, it is useful to remember the U.S.’ grand strategy in the Middle East.
For this reason, if we assume the existence of other factors - along with diplomacy - in the fulfillment of the deal, such as the effects of the re-emergence of old Cold War rivalries along with the requirements and preferences of U.S foreign policies, we would understand the potential role of the deal in helping to restore the region’s fragile security and stability.
There is a belief the region has already received its share of “second Cold War shock” in terms of security. Meanwhile, the question may arise as to whether the JCPOA has the potential to facilitate a new phase of multi-dimensional cooperation to prevent the escalation of the security crisis. The shortest answer would, perhaps, refer to the way regional countries would treat and trust the deal. This will be fulfilled only if they would not be manipulated by superpowers’ illusionary promises of strategic support.
On the other hand, except for the handful of Persian Gulf Arab countries, other countries seriously believe in the necessity and significance of this historical achievement for regional stability. It has the potential to produce for Iran, the region and the world a large-scale departure from the near or far past.
Polarization based on religious sectarianism headed by some countries aimed at creating a counter-balance front towards Iran’s economic and political initiatives in the post-sanction era is another challenge which endangers the creation of a new regional consensus. This is the point where certain actors could use the power vacuum and audaciously interfere to shape the security structures on behalf of regional countries, so that the Middle East loses its real definition as a “region.”
The Middle East has seriously suffered a “power vacuum” and its countries have not been able to compromise on many crises. It has led to many wars and confrontations and the region has faced sectarian disputes and challenges such as the modern Shia-Sunni power conflict and the escalation of the Syrian crisis.
Concerning this, it seems a new climate is needed to produce compatibility and unification. To this end, the validity of the definition of Middle East as a region should be reconsidered and re-explained through cooperation based on a coordinated system. This coordinated system can be manifested by promoting different layers of the deal, the most important of which is the chance for mutually beneficial economic policies and the adoption of diplomacy-oriented policies rather than counter-policies. This will help regional countries have the final say and collectively decide on regional security and stability, since what we have witnessed in the conflict-ridden Middle East was, to a great extent, a direct outcome of inconsistency in the security policies adopted by regional countries.
Perhaps, the most important challenges for Iran would be: First, to trust a thick wall of distrust that still exists with the U.S., second, to curb or manage the consequences or aftereffects of economic rivalries and power competition in the post-sanction era and third, to fulfill new domestic expectations.
Unlike some countries which resist prosperous changes, Iran values this huge responsibility and solely desires the stability of the region and its domestic welfare through more coherent economic and security policies.
The JCPOA is a model of regional cooperation and a promotion of Iran’s engagement and interaction with the world, as well as a blessing for the conflict-ridden Middle East. It is a turning point for regional countries to decide on their security and stability.
*Mojtaba Barghandan is an Iranian researcher and writer.