Did Iran Withdraw from the ‘Axis of Evil’?

The nuclear agreement between the P5+1 nations and Iran can be considered successful and impressive for American politics and diplomacy in general, and for the Obama administration in particular. America and Europe’s effort, their time and determination to complete an agreement on the Iranian nuclear program show that the U.S. is a pragmatic nation whose foreign policy advances its strategic interests.

After more than 12 years of give-and-take around the Iranian nuclear program, an agreement has been reached, which from the American point of view, brings an end to the Iranian desire to own a nuclear bomb. We cannot judge that deal as absolutely positive or negative because it is multidimensional. However, it is certain that the agreement ushers in a new phase for the relationship between the U.S. and Iran, and even the Middle East as a whole.

The international community and the U.S. did not have many options in front of them to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat. However, the sanctions imposed on Iran cannot continue forever, not because they didn’t affect Iran, but because the agreement was not expected to prevent Iran from moving forward with its nuclear program. Aside from that, it also had negative effects on the Iranian people. From the American point of view, the use of military force was not a realistic option at any moment. First of all, it conflicts with Obama’s policy of not resorting to the use of force in conflict resolution. Second, the results of the military option are not guaranteed, and it has potentially disastrous consequences for the region, for the Iranians themselves and for American interests. It was impossible for the United Nations Security Council to make a decision.

The economic sanctions against Iran didn’t prevent it from developing its nuclear program, but it did become a semi-isolated country. Iran has bowed to the desire of the international community and put its program under strict international control in order to lift the economic sanctions and establish natural relationships with the international community, particularly the USA, Europe, Japan and others.

Netanyahu’s fierce opposition of this agreement is not because it is a bad agreement, as he claims. Rather the opposite is true: It is in strict technical terms an airtight agreement, and it hinders Iran from developing its nuclear program, putting Iran under the umbrella of international law and under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Israel opposes the agreement because it wants to monopolize the partnership with the Arabs, and it doesn’t want competition in this area because it wants to extort the international community.

As for the Arab wariness of the agreement and anxiety about its result, this might be justified in some respects: in particular regarding Iranian ambitions in the region, as deduced from its military and political support of several regimes and movements, and the fear of a political deal being made with Iran at the expense of the Arab states. These fears necessitate that these countries rethink their strategies, not only with their perception of Iran, but also with regional problems and their internal affairs, especially as they relate to the nature of the country that they aspire to be in the future.

The nuclear agreement with Iran turns a long page in the region’s history, and it settles the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which stretched over 12 years. It ushers in a new season in the Middle East. Anyone who thinks its fate is preordained is mistaken; rather, its story will be completed by international and regional players. It is certain, however, that after this agreement the region won’t return to how it was before, and the world won’t accept Iran as it was before. Iran has graduated from the “axis of evil,” and perhaps, that will help in reaching solutions to the insurmountable problems of the region.

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