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Iran: the end of an unnatural state

January 19, 2016
The Cyrus Cylinder

The Cyrus Cylinder

In case you haven’t noticed, Iran is no longer in the nuclear bomb business. As the result it is able to do business with the outside world again.

The more remarkable is that this has not happened in the wake of smouldering holes in the ground where the nuclear sites once were, and half of the already-diminished Iranian economy in ruins after the inevitable fire-fight that would have followed the bunker-busting bombs.

Which shows that there is a role for international diplomacy beyond the delivery of threats and ultimata. One was beginning to wonder.

Whatever one might say about the Islamic Republic’s politics, the ambitions of its factions and its role beyond its immediate borders, commercial and cultural isolation is not a natural state for a country that has played a key part in the development of humanity over the past three thousand years.

In my home my walls are adorned by two magnificent Isfahan carpets depicting the Tree of Life. There’s one from Shiraz on the floor of my lounge. In my library sits a collection of the poems of Rumi. And in the kitchen there’s a box of saffron tea from Mashhad. Just a few objects, but ones that remind me of their place of origin whenever I pass them by.

Iran has never been far from my mind over the past few decades. When I first arrived in the Middle East, it was at war with Iraq. During the four years when I lived in Bahrain, rumours were constantly flying around about an impending Israeli strike on the nuclear sites. Had that happened, the whole region, including the place where I was living, might have gone up in flames.

I’ve met enough Iranians in my time to know that most are not fanatics. They are smart, curious and proud of their heritage. And they have much to be proud of. They have a great sense of humour. And now they have the opportunity to engage with the world once again.

For once, diplomacy worked. A roadblock has been cleared. There are many more that prevent a state of justice and equilibrium from returning to the Middle East. But it’s a start.

The negotiating parties deserve our congratulations, and the hard-pressed people of Iran deserve our best wishes.

From → Middle East, Politics, UK, USA

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