The general outline of the deal being negotiated is that in return for Iran temporarily ceasing sections of its nuclear program and consenting to more rigorous inspections, the international sanctions regime leveled against the country would be slowly rolled back and it would be allowed access to a portion of its frozen funds.
Apparently oblivious to the ongoing state of negotiations, the U.S. Congress has threatened to put in place a new set of sanctions that would further tighten the noose around the country’s neck. The Senate Banking Committee is considering letting these new sanctions move forward, a strategy which would prove extremely detrimental to the negotiations. As the State Department spokeswoman has said, “The American people justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution … So as this legislation is being considered, members of Congress need to ask themselves: Do they believe diplomacy should be the first resort, or should we open the door to confrontation?”  Although the negotiating countries have said they will not roll back sanctions during this preliminary agreement,  instituting new sanctions now would effectively neuter the ongoing negotiations.
Secretary of State Kerry has pointed out that new sanctions “could be viewed as bad faith by the people we’re negotiating with, it could destroy the ability to be able to get agreement, and it could actually wind up setting us back in a dialogue that’s taken 30 years to be able to achieve.”  As one commentator has wisely noted, “At a time when Congressional ineptitude is at an all-time high, I’d like to see as little Congressional influence over the highest echelons of U.S. national security policy as possible.”  Still, Congressional leaders such as Eric Cantor have gone as far as insisting that, “a Geneva deal would fall short if it did not entirely halt Iran’s nuclear program.”  Unrealistic or even harmful beliefs on the part of Congress could end up being the biggest obstacle at this historic juncture.
The immediate butcher of the deal was reportedly France and her foreign minister, Laurent Fabius. Looking at previous instances, it becomes clear that France’s foreign policy vis-Ã -vis Iran “is often defined in opposition to that of Washington.”  However, Secretary of State Kerry attempted to pin the blame on Iran, later saying that, “The French signed off on it, we signed off on it. There was unity but Iran couldn’t take it.”  A war of words ensued, when Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif then said in a series of tweets, “Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of U.S. draft Thursday night? And publicly commented against it Friday morning? No amount of spinning can change what happened within 5+1 in Geneva. But it can further erode confidence.”  Whatever the case may be, France potentially represents another actor that could recklessly derail future negotiations, being that the country is now recognized by many as “the most hawkish Western nation on matters involving the Middle East and neighbouring areas.”  Following the breakdown of negotiations in Geneva, Senator John McCain even tweeted “Vive la France.”
Israel has undoubtedly been the most vocal of those that fancy themselves conscientious objectors to a deal with Iran. This is not at all surprising, given the historical enmity between it and the Islamic Republic. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has argued to Kerry and other participating European foreign ministers that Iran would be making off with the “deal of the century”  if even these paltry negotiations are successful. The possibility of an agreement between Iran and the West would come at enormous financial and geopolitical costs to Israel, so naturally it would prefer to see the continuation of hostilities.
Finally, despite Moscow’s assertions to the contrary, Russia is having to walk a tightrope during the negotiations, between maintaining stability in the Middle East and preserving its own economic interests. ”Besides leaving Russia on the margins, the Iran deal threatens to impact the global oil market, shaving perhaps $10 from the oil price. This would deliver a severe blow to the petro-rent-dependent Russian economy.”  Russia, if not working towards a deal which favors Iran, is likely to remain a passive observer in the negotiations and follow the lead of the United States.
In the interest of peace, it is now more crucial than ever that these parties temporarily put aside their reservations, lest they spoil a much-needed dÃ©tente between Iran and the international community. Only then can an accord be clinched that is sound but also pragmatic. During the week ahead, it is in everyone’s interest that cooler heads in Geneva prevail.
Bryce White is an independent geopolitical analyst and student of political science residing in San Diego, and writes at warandbryce.wordpress.com.
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Source: Global Research