Whether by design or accident, the nuclear deal struck in Geneva this past weekend is about far more than centrifuges, enrichment and breakout times.
Ultimately, the success of the nuclear negotiations will help determine who and what will define Iran for the next few decades.
Will Iran be defined by the confrontational and bombastic approach of its former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the conservatives around him? Or will it be defined by the more open and moderate approach of its current President Hassan Rouhani and his energetic and respected Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif.
A lot is at stake. A comprehensive nuclear agreement that provides the Iranian economy with much-needed relief, retains enrichment on Iranian soil and upholds Iran’s sense of dignity will significantly strengthen Rouhani’s team and force the conservatives to lose even more political ground. Rouhani will have demonstrated to Iranians, for the first time in a long time, that moderation can pay off.
The crowd cheered as Zarif arrived at the Tehran airport after the negotiations in Geneva. The slogans they chanted revealed Iran’s new political winds.