An undecided Tehran is bad for Iran

Mohamed Chebarro

Published: Updated:

With Iran taking a major step toward normalizing its relations with the world, Tehran’s leadership has to decide, in the interest of its people, culture and economy, whether it is a state or a revolutionary entity.

The milestone review by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on January 16 found that Iran has complied with the nuclear deal reached with the international community in June last year and dismantled its secretive nuclear program paving the way for lifting sanctions. This accomplishment constitutes only a slither of what await the Iranian government and its people.

Undoing its nuclear facilities, shipping tons of low-enriched uranium to Russia and stopping its ballistic missile program will allow Iran access to ship its oil and for its banks to operate internationally. This will allow the removal of some travel and import bans shackling its economy and its people.

Yet the real hurdles remain. Tehran’s leadership must decide whether Iran is a state or a revolutionary entity and whether it is ready to uphold international transparent practices in pursuit of its interests.

Tehran’s leadership has to decide whether it is a state or a revolutionary entity

Mohamed Chebarro

The nuclear deal ends one of several sanction packages imposed on Iran by various international bodies resulting from its human rights record and support for terrorism and terror groups. Among those are sanctions imposed by the U.S. three and a half decades ago at the onset of the revolution when Tehran’s new leaders decided to hold employees of the American embassy in Iran as hostages. Other similar sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the European Union and the U.N. due to Tehran’s involvement in terror activities or its poor record in upholding human rights.

The nuclear deal and its aftermath might be a good beginning for Iran but its leadership has a long list of grueling tasks to achieve if they want to re-harmonize Iran as a player on the international stage. Iran’s revolutionary tone bent on the belligerent must be turned down.

Incidents such as the capture of U.S. navy boat, after it drifted into Gulf waters, is not likely to win Iran friends especially considering the way they were paraded on national and international Iranian channels. The same is applicable to encouraging people to storm and burn down embassies such as the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad recently.

Curbing proxies

Iran’s many proxy wars in the Arab region and beyond is another problem which Tehran leaders must work with the international community to resolve. The statements made by leaders of the elite Revolutionary Guards, claiming that Iran controls four Arab capitals, is not conducive to eliminating the lack of trust over Iranian intentions for 30 years.

Those same leaders have on other occasions boasted that the Islamic Revolution of Iran has trained and equipped 200,000 young men from various countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indeed such acts will not help restore the calm and prosperity a nation needs to rebuild its economy and international trust after 37 years as a pariah state.

Iran in a post nuclear era must review relations with its neighbors, mainly Gulf states, and cooperate to ensure stability in the region instead of continuing with this game of destabilizing states through sectarian divisions in countries such as Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Syria. Iran should take a strategic review on whether it is still beneficial to fan the fires of sectarianism in the 21st century, whether it is useful today to re-awaken the Shia-Sunni tussle or to settle centuries old Arab-Persian rivalry.

Iran must reconsider whether its efforts to derail the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in the 90s benefited the Palestinian cause or buried for good any hope of a two-state solution, which the Palestinian people desperately needed.

The missile test related sanctions announced by President Obama immediately after the prisoner exchange with Iran, and the removal of nuclear deal related sanctions imposed 10 years ago, should serve as reminder to Tehran and its smart playing politicians. They must chose, as the Saudi foreign minister said last week, whether they are a state or a revolutionary entity.

Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.