Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Post-sanctions Iran: The next China?

As Tehran and world powers inch closer to a final nuclear agreement, Iran is poised to become a major emerging power.

Al-Jazeera - 30 Jun 2014 

Richard Javad Heydarian

The lightning advance of the group now calling itself the Islamic Caliphate (formerly known as Islamic State in Iraq and Levant) throughout the north and eastern portions of Iraq has rattled governments across the region and beyond. For the first time in recent memory, there is the possibility that a terrorist group could end up controlling the geographical heart of the Middle East, home to one of the world's largest hydrocarbon reserves.  Quite paradoxically, such a worrying prospect has pushed Tehran and Washington closer to each other, as the two powers contemplate a modus vivendi to contain the menace and aid the flailing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki-led government in Baghdad, which has been criticised for its lack of inclusive governance and increasingly authoritarian tendencies.  Given their shared strategic concern over the rapid proliferation of violent groups such as the Islamic Caliphate, there is a growing conversation about the possibility of a tactical alliance between the West and Iran - paving the way for a fundamental reconfiguration in the regional balance of power.