100 years on, it seems naive to continue to believe that the division of the region via the Sykes-Picot agreement is still relevant when the reality on the ground tells an entirely different story. The West must take this into account if it hopes to find a solution to a conflict by which it is now also directly concerned.
Once again the Iranian people used the limited available democratic process, combined with unconventional tools and creative methods, to take another step towards political change. A slow process that started with the election of President Khatami and the birth of the reform movement in the 1990s continued through the 2009 election and post-election resistance, re-emerged in the 2013 election of moderate President Rouhani and again showed up in the two important elections last week. Iranians have been on a slow path to democracy and continue to progress -- with patience and with hope.
The message of these elections to global powers is that they should approach Iran with respect rather than with threats and drop anti-Iranian rhetoric. Iranians who went to the voting booths have a palpable sense of the indifference of the West to the existence of democracy and elections in Iran. They know that any claims by the West to respect public participation in Iran loses its credibility, because they see that Western allies in the region have zero democracy.
We all know that the Iranian elections will change nothing immediately, but we also know that these elections are the closest that the Iranian public can come to shaping the country's future. The real effects of the elections will be felt in the next few years, when the battle for the next supreme leader starts. What happened in the Iranian elections is thus even more significant than Hassan Rouhani's victory in the presidential elections of 2013.
While the Iranians rightly condemned Saudi Arabia, I find it quite ironic when they represent the murders as a "medieval act of savagery." It's as if the Saudi's, in executing Shiite clerics, held up a mirror to the Iranians in which they saw reflected back their own long-standing and brutal civil and human rights atrocities.
The Vienna nuclear agreement between Iran and the West was a major milestone for the geostrategic future of the Middle East, but it was also a breath of fresh air for Iranian civil society. There is now the possibility of Iranian civil society playing a different and more constructive role in the future of Iranian politics.
Khamenei's defeat bodes well for Iran. After the crippling sanctions and the shadow of a possible war with the U.S. are lifted, Iran's economy will begin to improve and Western investments will begin to flow into the country. With an improved economy and the absence of a threat to Iran's national security, democratic groups inside the country will be able to raise their voice and demand lifting of the security environment that has pervaded Iran since the Green Movement of 2009-2011.
HOD HASHARON, Israel -- The bottom line is that it is a good outcome for Israel, given the alternatives. Instead of a fight in Congress, Netanyahu should engage with the administration on the means of ensuring that the Iranians observe the agreement and on a further strategic upgrade of the bilateral relationship.