Käte Hamburger Dialogue

Iran after the Nuclear Deal: Cooperation Partner for a Peace Settlement in the Middle East?

4 November 2015

Signed in July this year, the nuclear agreement with Iran is considered to be a historical move: In return for the promise to abstain from the military use of nuclear power, the West lifts the economic and trade sanctions against the country. But does the agreement also open up new perspectives for the management of the violent conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen? This question was discussed by a panel of experts on the 5th Käte Hamburger Dialogue at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The public event was organised by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) and the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF).

The nuclear deal with Iran seems to open the door to further agreements between the western countries and Iran. The possibilities of a cooperation with Iran, especially on the resolution of regional conflicts, is based on overlapping interests between the western countries and Iran. It is certainly not in Iran’s interest to see the Sunni extremist Taliban come to power in Afghanistan nor to see the Islamic State advance in Syria and Iraq. Still, in the dialogue moderated by Michael Backfisch, Senior Political Editor of the Funke Media Group in Berlin, the three panellists Prof. Dr Udo Steinbach (Berlin), the Centre’s Fellow Dr Shirin Saeidi, and Dr Jochen Hippler (INEF) gave different views on the future of the Middle East.

Steinbach, Co-Founder of the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, gave a carefully optimistic outlook. While we face a new situation after the nuclear deal with Iran, he doubts that on the political level the deal will be followed by further agreements, neither on the Iranian, nor on the US side. With regard to the conflict in Syria, Steinbach stated that it is quite a diplomatic challenge to integrate Iran to form a regional alliance for a conflict resolution in Syria. Moreover, he argued that there are too many actors involved – inside and outside Syria – who do not have consensus on what should be the next steps for a solution of the conflict.

Senior Researcher, Dr Jochen Hippler, saw no solution coming over the next years in Syria. He emphasised that military approach cannot be a response to the conflict, nor to ISIS, as it would only cure the symptoms but not the causes of the conflict. This cause was described by Hippler as political vacuum that was filled by ISIS but that was not caused by it. This vacuum entails a lack of functioning statehood and legitimate effective government. His opinion was supported by the Centre’s research fellow Dr Shirin Saeidi. She outlined Iran’s strong hold of the principle of internal sovereignty and its fight against any US-invasion. Both, Hippler and Saeidi, agreed that military intervention is not a solution. To solve the root causes, the required preconditions have to come from inside Syria.

Date: 4 November 2015, 17.00-18.30 h
Venue: Room 2.42, Center for Nanointegration Duisburg-Essen (CENIDE), Carl-Benz-Str. 199, 47057 Duisburg