The Persian Carpet
by Waiel Awwad on 15 Aug 2013 1 Comment

The secret of the Persian carpet is deeply rooted in the history of making it. In fact when you like the carpet, you are ready to pay any price and they say in Iran the price is determined by your liking. So is the politics of Iran. Every thread has different colour woven by the hands of masters, and each knot has its reason to be there. So is the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who won from the first round with participation of more than 72% of voters, a record participation that belied all ill wishers of Iran.


It was a clear indication of the maturity that the political and religious establishments in Iran possess, and showed to the world what they are capable of doing when they are under pressure. The choice of moderate Rouhani, the seventh president, is meant to calm the streets of Iran because of the surge in prices and inflation because of the harsh US and EU sanctions.


When you visit any market in Tehran, it is bustling with life and consumers in spite of the increase in prices. People would be seen carrying bags and shopping enough for the fasting month and preparing for Eid celebrations, though it was easily noticed that some did not observe fasting. Unlike a couple of years ago, people are more freely walking, sitting in the garden and to some extent resemble Nehru Park [Delhi] on a holiday. The government of Iran is to some extent easing pressures on the masses and allowing freedom within a limited space as told by many intellectual who shared their views of the current situation in Iran internally.


During the swearing-in ceremony, a few leaders and foreign delegations from 55 countries were present. The US sent mixed signals about the victory of Rouhani, congratulating the people of Iran but not him, hoping that the new leadership will open up. Washington should be more flexible. But the Israeli lobby, warmongering, was fairly active in making sure that the Obama administration does not ease the pressures and tighten sanctions more on Iran.


Reliable sources admit cancellation of many of Latin American delegations under Israel pressure and warning against Iran influences in Latin America (against American and Israeli interests). When the Shah of Iran was in power, Tel Aviv used to instruct the White House to receive him since he was “a great friend of Israel”.


Moderate but firm


The choice of President Rouhani was to revive the economy, which is a priority, keep the public satisfied and ease the external tension with the US administration. This was evident from his new cabinet which included a dozen of technocrats, reformists, economists and US educated persons. Rouhani known as a moderate, but is not weak, supports reforms but is conservative and enjoys the trust of the supreme leadership.


Geopolitical importance and nation state rising   


Iran holds many keys to regional and international crises. Its influence extends from South Asia to the Caspian, Central and West Asia. The US understands the importance of Iran, especially post-Iraq withdrawal, and its troops’ evacuation from Afghanistan before the end of 2014, either fully or partially. There is also the maritime security of the Gulf, with US reducing its navy warships in the region.

While the US is trying to live with a strong Iran, it remains held at ransom because of Israeli pressures not to open up to the current regime in Iran which has nuclear ambitions, according to Israeli sources. Military experts argue that conventional capabilities of Iran are more worrisome for US and Israel than nuclear deterrence possession. Iranian military strength can hit any target in the Gulf, Israel, or even Europe, with accuracy. But US will pursue its policy of exposing Iranian arsenal under the pretext of Iran perusing a military nuclear program despite being signatories to NPT and its civilian nuclear program kept under close watch of IAEA.


This arrogance of the West is behind the belligerent stand of Iran, argued an Iranian official clearly doubting the real intention of the US and the West, stating: “why should we expose ourselves to them when we have two recent examples of retaliation against Iraq and Libya that were invaded and destroyed by US and NATO once they inspected both countries?”


Tehran learned a hard lesson after the first Gulf war (Iraq-Iran war) and US denial of spare parts to its arsenal. It worked steadily to strengthen itself internally after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and filled the power vacuum left behind. The closeness with Russia and China further cemented its status as the security energy power and it emerged as a strong regional power.


With the recent uncertainty in the Arab world and instability and anarchy with the birth of Islamist forces, Iran is emerging stronger and benefits from the current situation to gain influence to help allies challenge American and Western designs to foster ethnic conflict and split it into sectarian factions. Some Gulf countries see Iran as a threat to their existence and prefer to be under the shelter of US, and speak on US behalf against Iran.


Tehran learned patience over the decades, the art of politics and governance with a strong national government. It now wants direct talks with the US and to be dealt with on equal footing, with dignity and respect. This was evident among officials and large sections of society who rally behind the government in its fight for national interest.


Rouhani will be seen doing a balancing act if the US shows a new approach toward Iran, deviating from Tel Aviv’s intention of a military misadventure which will be catastrophe for the region. The engagement has to be drawn in a more pragmatic manner as the ball now in the American court. The world acknowledges that Iran will contribute to global peace and security if given a chance to play its role regionally.


Future Scenario


On the Nuclear front, Iran will continue to fully cooperate with IAEA while insisting on its legitimate right to use nuclear energy for civilian purposes. This issue is in the hands of the supreme leadership and there will no deviation from the principle stand. On regional issues, it will play a major role in Afghanistan, post US- NATO withdrawal.


Pipeline diplomacy, if allowed, will strengthen neighbourhood bonds and the ailing West will have to find a way to gain from the Iran market at a time of global recession and bankruptcy of many EU members.


The outcome of the war on Syria will determine the future of West Asia and fallout if America and the West decide on direct military intervention in the Syrian conflict. The Islamic republic of Iran will ensure its allies in the resistance bloc stay strong as its own survival will be based on their steadfastness in Syria, Lebanon or Gaza strip. When the Persian carpet is completed, you can see its beauty from all angles. The more knots with selected colours are there, the more it’s sophistication, beauty, and worth.

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