From Mozart to Rouhani

Rouhani’s Iran Sonata — A Memorable Duet by M.J. Zarif & Bijan N Zanganeh

Rooz(beh) Aliabadi
Mar 14, 2014 · 3 min read

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classic era. As a young boy, he and his sister Marianne played a duet of his composition at a London concert in 1765. The young Mozart introduced the world to what a duet is. The four-hand, described as a duet, was in many of his compositions which included five sonatas; a set of variations — two performers and one instrument — and of course his unusual Sonata for two pianos.

Since Mozart, just about every category of artistic composition, as in music, literature, dance or opera at every time period, has seen many duets. But the duet, it seems, is having a renaissance in the political landscape recently. This time in Iran and of a different kind. The Iranian duet began when Rouhani defended two of his choices — widely recognized Mohammad Javad Zarif to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and experienced and capable Bijan Namdar Zanganeh to lead the Ministry of Petroleum — as part of his cabinet to overcome Iran’s economic crisis and diplomatic isolations in a parliamentary debate last August.

Rouhani’s choice for the diplomatic part of this duet — performed by Zarif, led to a historic nuclear agreement with the six major powers that was sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations last November. His economic part of this duet is now being performed by Zanganeh and his Ministry of Petroleum.

While Zarif hosted European Union Foreign Policy Chief — Catherine Ashton in Tehran just ahead of new round of nuclear talks, Zanganeh accompanied his boss in a visit to Oman where economic co-operation was high on the agenda. Zanganeh made an economic breakthrough by sealing an agreement to export 10 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Oman via a 350 km pipeline linking southern Iran to the port of Sohar, in northern Oman. Although Oman agreed to buy gas from Iran as far back as 2005, both countries had never finalized terms mainly due to pressure by the United States to source fuel from alternative suppliers such as Qatar.

It is no surprise that Iran holds the world’s third-largest proven oil reserves and the second-largest natural gas reserves. But US financial sanctions, coupled with an EU oil embargo, have driven away foreign investment, crippled oil production, exports and left the development of oil and gas fields paralyzed. In fact last August, Zanganeh appeared before parliament for his confirmation and reminded everyone that their vote of confidence was not sending him to a five-star hotel. Rather on his way to “the front lines of fighting with sanctions.”

Today, Zanganeh’s “Active Diplomacy” is paying off, as the country’s oil and condensate exports have increased by 25 percent in recent months. Sealing a deal with Muscat to export natural gas was another important accomplishment, especially after two gas export contracts with Iraq to sell 45 million cubic meters daily. Under Zanganeh, the Ministry of Petroleum is centralizing oil exports by stop selling oil to brokers, unveiling new oil contracts aimed at drawing more foreign companies and also launching five phases of giant South Pars oil and gas fields.

Mozart composed the Sonata for two pianos in a light and elegant style, of the 18th century music with interlocking melodies and simultaneous cadences. Rouhani composed his Sonata in a style that reflects the priorities of Iran’s foreign policy of the 21st century — interaction with the world and economic diplomacy. As the Persian New Year approaches, Iranians across the country are busy washing their windows, buying fireworks and sending their handmade rugs for their once-a-year clean. And hoping that Rouhani’s Sonata will bring better fortunes in the new year.


    Rooz(beh) Aliabadi

    Written by

    Roozbeh is currently a Partner at Global Growth Advisors International Group LLC (New York — US)

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