Iran Negotiations Go On

Iran Negotiations Go On

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

There is need to understand certain things about negotiations in general and negotiations in the Middle East in particular. When business and labor negotiate in the West and the deadline passes, labor goes on strike. When Congress and the White House do not enact a budget on schedule, the Government is shut down. When Greece defaults on its debt the banks have no money. Granted they all do have extension mechanisms, but the classic understood modus operandi is, meet the deadline. When the P5+1 negotiate with Iran and the deadline passes, they kick the can down the road and set a new deadline. For Iran this is normative.

The issue here is that Iran—as is the way in the Middle East—has all the time in the world. Deadlines mean little. Implicit in negotiations is the fact that fixed dates are irrelevant. Negotiations are only a means to winning and not to compromising. Talking continues until one wins. Tuesday, July 7th’s deadline means something only for the Obama Administration’s negotiations with Congress. It would give Congress only a 30 day window to respond, not the 60 day window which Congress receives after the 7th.  Iran understands that and is playing it for all it is worth, since the Iranian leaders also understands how much Kerry and the President want a deal.

There are two other notes which pressure the deal. It appears clear that Iran is prepping the Iranian people to expect the lifting of sanctions. This does give Secretary Kerry a bit of leverage; but not much. He understands what Iran is doing and they do not want to let their people down. On the other hand, if sanctions are not lifted Iran will only blame him and the West and that will fit into the Iranian people’s understanding that you cannot trust the West.

Second, businesses in the West have begun gearing up for a resumption of more open and productive trade with Iran as sanctions are lifted. Easing of sanctions will open up not only reserves but most importantly a dramatic increase in availability of Iranian oil. Germany, France, and other European countries have been operating on the assumption that a deal is imminent for quite a while. The economic hit here will be temporary but it will have a political hit against significant rising expectations.

Stay Tuned. 

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