The Middle East is about to change in 3 major ways

IranReuters/Morteza NikoubazlA member of the Iranian Army in Tehran.

The world powers and Iran struck a deal on Tuesday to curb Iran’s nuclear program for at least 10 years in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions.

And while everyone’s been waiting for this landmark deal for what seems like forever — it’s actually just the beginning.

“[A]s important as it is to defang Iran’s nuclear threat, the bigger story is what the deal means for Iran’s new standing in a crumbling geopolitical order,” Eurasia Group president Ian Bremmer wrote in a Facebook post.

Bremmer highlights the three biggest changes that will follow:

  1. “The competition between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia will heat up, and the balance of power will tip toward Iran,” he writes. Iran’s going to compete with Saudi Arabia in oil, and the proxy fights will escalate — especially as the US and EU work to reduce their presence there.
  2. Iran’s economy will be officially open to the world. “Iran is not just another Middle Eastern petro-state; it offers investors a diversified economy with an established capital market,” writes Bremmer. “Its population of 80 million, the second largest in the Middle East, promises consumer demand across sectors as varied as travel and logistics to pharmaceuticals and consumer products.”
  3. “Iran will lead the fight against ISIS” at a time when “Obama is in no position to put US boots on the ground.” Bremmer writes, “though economic sanctions and global arms embargo have limited the sophisticated of Iran’s military powers … the expansion of Iranian influence and economic capabilities will pave the way for greater defence leadership in the Middle East.”

And given these shifts, another post-deal factor to consider is the future of Washington-Tehran relations.

In the short term, the Iran deal will be easy to pick apart by analysts, journalists, and Obama’s political adversaries who can colour Tuesday’s agreement in an unflattering shade (especially since pretty much everyone believes that Iran will cheat).

As for the long term, Bremmer previously suggested in a Q&A that Iran was one area of the world that was “undervalued,” and that “US-Iran relations will probably be closer than those of the US with most Gulf States” in 10 years.

“The US and Iran aren’t about to start trusting one [another], much less become fast friends,” writes Bremmer. “But in the world created by the deal, Iran starts to matter much more than Saudi Arabia and other old-guarded US allies.”

Check out Ian Bremmer’s entire post on Facebook here.

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