Today Cuba, Tomorrow Iran
On December 17, 2014, President Obama said:
"Today America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past, so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world."
He effectively declared that his administration is doing away with the embargo policy that has been in place for the past 50 years and start diplomatic relations with the Cuban government. As I am writing this article, some parts of the world have already welcomed the year 2015. However, here in the US we still have a few hours left before we start celebrating the arrival of the new year. I, sincerely hope that 2015 is going to be the year in which the two countries of Iran and the United States are going to reopen their respective embassies in their capitals and begin real and constructive negotiations about their differences and how they can help make the world a better and more tolerable place.
In my earlier article I wrote a brief history about how the animosities between US and Iran started and the reasons why the trade with Iran though very much desired is a taboo subject. As you may be aware the major stumbling block to achieve agreement and finally peace between Iran and the "rest of the world" is the nuclear issue of Iran who cannot be trusted with the technology in case the Iranians are going to build a nuclear weapon.
One of the key elements in any country's foreign policy is the desires of its citizens to improve their economical and social status; fulfilling this desire cannot come any sooner for the Iranians who are hungry for betterment of their economical situation. One manifestation of this desire is the number of startups that are springing up all over Iran. Though this is admirable and necessary, unfortunately is not enough. What makes this complete is the realization by the west led by the Americans that no weapon is as potent as providing a young and talented nation such as Iran with means for them to achieve their social and economic desires.
I believe the following steps if implemented will achieve the integration of the Iranians back into the world business community.
1. Provide visas for Iranians who wish to visit the United States.
The best way for the Iranians to see the free world is to see it first hand and experience it. These visitors will gradually start conversation when they return to Iran and set in motion a change of attitude.
2. Reopen the embassies in Tehran and Washington D.C.
Opening the embassies will quickly follow with cultural and commerce attachés which will provide a conduit for further dialogue and business transactions.
3. Allow access for angel investors and venture capitalists to invest in Iranian startups.
The current draconian financial constraints which limit Iranian citizens access to financial assistance needs to be removed or loosened drastically. This action will empower the Iranian companies to seek the needed funds to expand their operations, employ more young Iranians who will in turn improve the economic conditions.
4. Establish direct flights between the US and Iran
Direct flights will enhance travel, tourism, commerce, dialogue and above all trust.The P5 + 1 and Iran negotiations is scheduled to start on January 15, 2015 and even though the US congress has turned heavily republican, let's hope that peacemaking is on the agenda.
On a lighter note, as the late John Lennon sang his famous 'Imagine' song,
You, you may say, I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.
I believe that peace is achievable. Happy New Year!