Editorial: December 2013
The Winds of Change
Dr. Rasheed Hasan Khan
The Cold War between Iran and USA which had been raging for the last thirty five years seems to be reaching a thaw. Winds of change are sweeping the region, portents of new alignments and new events to come.The USA and its allies had relentlessly tried to paint Iran as the main component of the “Axis of Evil” along with North Korea and Syria. Indeed so vehement was their rhetoric that during the past year there were occasions when aggression on Iran seemed to be only days away. But at the fag end of the year 2013 Iran and the USA have engaged in a dialogue regarding Iran’s nuclear program and agreed on a deal.
The deal with Iran agreed by the U.S. and its P5+1 partners (Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany) has been sharply criticized by Israel and Saudi Arabia but this seems to be largely an exercise to maintain maximum pressure on Iran for the next six months .Under the deal agreed with Iran, that country will accept restrictions on its nuclear program so that the parameters of its future program will be similar to that of a civilian nuclear program. In exchange, the U.S. and other world powers will provide limited relief from economic sanctions that have considerably damaged the economy, cut significantly into the country’s oil exports and seriously affected the Iranians’ quality of life. Out of the Iranian assets of $100 Billion frozen aboard, Iran would be allowed to withdraw $7 Billion and the sanctions on trade would be eased for a period of six months. What transpires after six months is open to question but it can be conjectured that a great deal will depend on the satisfaction of the P5+1 partners with the outcome of the deal.
US Withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 is the event about which there has been a plethora of hyperbole. The correct situation however, is that the US forces are going to remain in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, what is being withdrawn is redundant material and personnel. Therefore the 2014 milestone is very much an imaginary one as far as Afghanistan, Pakistan and the region is concerned, the change is in the strategic planning and consists of reliance on very advanced technology and weapons and the use of Special Forces and air power. The US persistence in the use of Drone Warfare in FATA and even the settled areas of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa is a harbinger of the future shape of things. We can safely say that there the winds of change are not affecting the War in Afghanistan or the campaign of terror in Pakistan by the religious extremists