Statement from Phyllis Bennis, IPS’s Middle East expert:

“The U.S.-Iran prisoner swap was possible because the nuclear deal has made the privileging of diplomacy over threats and war a key component of U.S.-Iran relations. The same is true of last week’s quick release of two U.S. Navy patrol boats and ten sailors who strayed into – or perhaps deliberately entered – Iran’s territorial waters.

The prisoner exchange and the release of the U.S. war-boats provide an important model for the kind of diplomatic engagement that the Iran nuclear deal makes possible. While the deal was negotiated between Iran and the so-called “P-5 + 1,” referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the core of the negotiations aimed at ending decades of U.S. –Iran hostility. The deal on its face was quite narrow – otherwise it would likely never have been achieved. It imposed vast limits on Tehran’s nuclear power program in return for lifting international economic sanctions against Iran. And as we know, even that narrow agreement almost failed because of opposition from those who preferred war over diplomacy – in Israel, in the U.S. Congress (from mostly Republican, but certainly not only, members) , and from hardliners in Iran’s parliament.

But the victory of diplomacy over war, despite its nay-sayers, held out the possibility of far broader new relations between the U.S. and Iran. And now, even though human rights issues were never officially included in the negotiations, we’re seeing how the easing of U.S.-Iran tensions that the nuclear deal made possible, is now bearing human rights and humanitarian fruit.”

Read full analysis at:
Phyllis Bennis is IPS’s expert on Middle East policy issues and is the director of its New Internationalism project.  She is also the author of numerous primers related to Middle East policy including the recently released Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror: A Primer, and Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer.

Media Contacts:
Phyllis Bennis,, 202-309-1377
Elaine de Leon Ahn,, 202-714-3443

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