Although some conservative circles in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia are cautious when it comes to an agreement, much of the world has welcomed the ending of tensions. The Iranian public, who experienced great difficulties under the sanctions regime, poured onto the streets to celebrate. The ending of a major problem without recourse to arms or civilian deaths gives us all hope for the future.
Sanctions against Iran began with the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979, and turned into a full embargo in 1995. Following politicization of Iran’s peaceful nuclear case in 2002, the embargo was expanded to include financial assets, arms sales, civil and military corporations, the oil sector and technology transfers; an oil embargo was initiated in 2012. During the embargo, Iranian assets worth $100 billion and the assets of the Iranian Central Bank were impounded. The automotive industry was also included, oil production fell by half and automobile manufacture fell to 40%.
With the lifting of sanctions, $100 billion belonging to Iran in international banks will be released. Trade prohibitions with Iran will also be eased. Iran will be able to once again do business with the rest of the world. Iran will begin exporting an additional 500,000 barrels of oil a day. Oil that was for years sold for around $100 a barrel is today fetching $30-40. That means losses of billions of dollars to Iran. Iran was forced to almost entirely freeze oil exports during the embargo. Since the global flow of money is controlled by the US SWIFT system, even Iran’s limited oil sales could only be made in return for goods. Despite hitches, the lifting of sanctions is expected to benefit Iran in economic terms. However, in order for economic and social well-being to be permanent, Iran needs to maintain this climate of reconciliation and become a part of the international community.
The treaty doing away with its nuclear plans created an air of optimism throughout the world. Neighboring Azerbaijan and Armenia warmly welcomed the lifting of sanctions. Federica Mogherini, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and one of the architects of the agreement, has announced that the EU wishes to take part in the rebuilding of Iran. With the ending of sanctions, Italy and France have signed cooperation agreements worth billions of dollars; Japan has suspended its own sanctions.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement welcoming the agreement in August 2015. This emphasized the importance of resolving the problem by diplomatic means.
It is clear that the two regional giants – Iran and Turkey – will now be collaborating in many areas following the lifting of sanctions.
Turkey today has more than 200 investments in Iran and that number is expected to rise quickly in 2016. Commerce between the two countries never reached their true potential due to banking sanctions. Turkish companies’ joint investment projects and know-how transfers in target markets during recent years are regenerating the country’s industries and doubtlessly, a similar process awaits Iran.
Turkey is one of the world’s largest natural gas consumers. It obtains significant quantities of gas from Iran. Iran’s natural gas reserves are the closest and the largest source. It is highly probable that we will see joint investments between the two countries in that sphere. In addition, when the TANAP pipeline, which will connect the reserves in the Caspian Sea to Europe, is completed, this will represent a major boost to Iranian exports as well.
The volume of trade between Iran and Turkey, which was around $2 billion in the time of the late President TurgutOzal, rose to $15 billion by 2002 under the Erdogan administration. That is expected to increase many times over in this new era.
The real task facing the two countries now is to produce a political plan to put an end to conflicts in the region. The lives of millions of Muslims are today in danger in Syria and terrorist attacks are going on in the wings in Iraq: Yemen and Bahrain are wracked by sectarian conflicts. It is a matter of urgency for the two great Muslim powers to convert sectarian differences into friendship and collaboration and to strive together for peace in the Middle East.
The Iran-US crisis may now have come to an end, but the conflict between Israel and Palestine and strife in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are still ongoing. It is innocent Muslim people who have suffered the most from terrorist attacks in the region. Although US Secretary of State John Kerry says that the world is now a safer place with the lifting of sanctions on Iran, there is still a great deal of work to be done to ensure true security. Iran needs a reduction in tensions in the region more than anyone and one important way of bringing that about is through dialogue among all neighbors.
Sep 28, 2016 0
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