Document:Don't stop Iran now, it's on a roll
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Don't stop Inran now, it's on a roll
Iran has never had as favorable a regional and international milieu as today since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The leadership of President Hassan Rouhani will make the most out of it. Someone recently compared Rouhani with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, conducting a Sonata for two pianos “in a style that reflects the priorities of Iran’s foreign policy of the 21st century - interaction with the world and economic diplomacy”. 
Quite obviously, the tensions in the US-Russia ties over Ukraine work well for Iran. At a minimum, Russia will no longer feel tempted to have trade-offs with the US over the Iran issue and that works to Tehran’s advantage. Arguably, the tensions with the US begin to cascade in the coming days and weeks — depending on how hard President Barack Obama hits at the Kremlin. If that happens, Moscow may undermine the US’ capacity to drive a hard bargain with Iran. 
The irony cannot be lost on anyone that the nuclear talks are resuming in Vienna today, which is also a day the US chose to evict Russia from the G8. No matter the brave face Russian elites put on it, the fact is it rankles. The US officials will be keeping their fingers crossed at Vienna. 
However, on balance, Russian leadership is pragmatic and will not miss an opportunity to exhibit that it is still a responsible member of the ‘international community’. A constructive engagement with the US on Iran (or Syria) would serve Moscow’s purpose at the present juncture.
To be sure, Iran also will weigh the options available to it in the changed milieu. Any determined push by Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies will factor in Iran as an alternate source. In turn, this will give impetus to get the Iran nuclear problem out of the way, paving the way for Iran’s integration with the West.
At the same time, Iran will also encourage Russia to enhance the bilateral cooperation in the economic and military fields. Rouhani recently telephoned President Vladimir Putin and suggested that Moscow should expedite the implementation of the “already signed agreements as soon as possible”. 
Equally, the new tendencies in the politics of the Gulf region create space for Iran. The easing of US and EU sanctions has already led to a $60 billion gas deal between Iran and Oman and an agreement to construct a 350-kilometre long undersea pipeline connecting the two countries. 
Again, the cracks within the GCC have widened following the diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over issues such as the coup in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera, etc.  This may have prompted Qatar to intensify political consultations with Iran. 
Some commentators see an Iranian-Qatari axis emerging in Middle Eastern politics to counter the array of forces led by Saudi Arabia. But Iran’s diplomatic priority is not to create ‘blocs’. Rouhani’s policies aim at optimizing Iran’s influence as a regional power. 
Rouhani can be expected to take some major initiative in a near future to mend Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia. Iran will closely watch the outcome of President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Saudi Arabia to refine its diplomatic strategies 
Obama has a heavy agenda for the talks with King Abdullah and, in any case, with the growing realization in the political establishment in Washington that we may soon see a final Iran nuclear deal, US regional policies may no longer seek to queer the pitch of Saudi-Iranian ties.
- From Mozart to Rouhani - Medium.com
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- Iran Nuclear Talks Resume in Vienna Shadowed by Crimea Vote (1) - Business Week 18 March 2014
- Iran, Russia Keen to Expand Bilateral Ties - Fars News Agency 14 March 2014
- Iran says seals gas export deal with Oman - Reuters 12 March 2014
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- Iran, Qatar Hold First Joint Political Committee in Tehran - Fars News Agency 16 March 2014
- Iran, Qatar recast regional 'resistance' alliance - Iran Pulse 17 March 2014
- Saudi-Iran Diplomacy on Hold until Obama Visits Riyadh - Middle East Briefing 16 March 2014