Shifting priorities

Meeting ahead of the resumption of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday sought to show the word they are committed to achieving a new agreement.

Both sides have much to lose should no new deal be reached by March – the new deadline, after November’s was missed, but much more appears to be at stake for the U.S. Since the talks began, Tehran seems to be holding more and more trump cards, while Washington continues to look weaker on the world stage, its foreign policies failing from Ukraine to Syria and Iraq.

This latter problem – and in particular the growth of ISIS, which poses a threat to the entire world – is one on which the U.S. needs Iranian cooperation. Iranian support for the governments in both Damascus and Baghdad has rendered it impossible to continue to dismiss Tehran, and the Obama administration now finds itself in a difficult position – seeking to simultaneously reassure Israel that Iran cannot build nuclear weapons while also not irritating the government in Iran with endless or increased sanctions. Obama himself has already threatened to use his veto powers should Congress seek further sanctions on Iran.

This has led to an almost revolving door policy, with the U.S. dropping its once regular call for Assad to step down. Speaking Wednesday, Kerry spoke of the need for Syria’s “government” to put the people’s interests ahead of itself, not the need for the “regime” to resign. And across the region, countries are aware that their own futures will be affected by these U.S.-Iran talks, not just the super powers themselves.

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Categories: Americas, Iran, United States

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