Iranians welcomed “Eid al-Fitr” with an agreement that concluded the nuclear negotiations. Iranians who took to the streets of Tehran celebrated the agreement with enthusiasm. In fact, they are breathing the air of a doubly joyous Eid. We can only say “congratulations and have a nice Eid.” The agreement seems like it will bring about gradual expansions in the backbreaking agreements of Iran and the U.S. The lines will be re-arranged in the region, while roles and alliances will change. On the other hand, it is no coincidence that the nuclear agreement has taken place during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.
In early 2004, the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) established an independent task force to warm up relations with Iran, under the chairmanship of Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert M. Gates. Brzezinski was a strategist who played an active role in U.S. foreign policy, while Gates was an expert on Iran, who previously served as the United States Secretary of Defense and the Director of CIA. Twenty-two experts, including investment bankers, fund managers, oilmen, and academics participated in the workshop.
The workshop report “Agreement time for Iran” was published in the same year. The common view seen in the report stated that conditions were not yet favorable to completely resolve problems with Iran and carry out extensive cooperation efforts. The “Grand Negotiation” between the U.S. and Iran was far from being realistic and achievable. For this reason, it was suggested that a dialogue process –which was divided in sections-, and a commitment must be there to build confidence. According to another suggestion, the U.S. and Iran can research fields of potential cooperation and common interest, as well as maintain other targets which do not comply with one another's.
However, H. P. Goldfield, who expressed his views added an annotation to the report and defended the idea that there is opportunity for a “Grand Negotiation.” Goldfield, who was an executive at the “Middle East Institute” and the “Israel Policy Forum”, stated that both countries play a critical role in achieving America's political goals in Lebanon, Bosnia and Afghanistan. However, this cooperation did not serve as a catalyzer for a more basic and strategic development in U.S.-Iran relations. Because sanctions nurtured the atmosphere of mistrust regarding America's Iran policy.
According to Goldfield, most Iranians thought that the normalization of relations with the U.S. would be in their economic and social interests. Take a look at what Goldfield, who defended the idea that there is an opportunity for a “Grand Negotiation” in case that the right steps are taken, stated:
“In conclusion, the U.S. should ensure that the Iranians clearly “hear” this grand negotiation proposal. We must make this proposal to the Iranian Government (I propose that this is done through Hassan Rouhani, a member of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council); however, the proposal should also be published in a way that will ensure that the Iranian people hear about it.”
Goldfield was emphasizing that he believed the Iranian conservatives would perceive the “Grand Negotiation” proposal as an opportunity to achieve many of their domestic and exterior goals. About nine years after the report, Rouhani was surprisingly elected as the president. Receiving the approval of the religious authority, his first job was to proceed with nuclear negotiations.
Which steps will the “Grand Negotiation” with the U.S. - which Iranians referred to as the “Great Satan” since the 1979 revolution- bring along for Iran? I remember a proverb which said “Those who sit at the same table with Satan should have a long spoon.” Alright, but when Iranians sit at the same table with Americans, will they have long or short spoons?