With all the current changes taking place in the political landscape, the Iranian issue is being reopened, and the judgment of many writers, especially those who heed from the Arabian side of the Gulf, seems to be clouded with emotional sentiments preventing them from approaching the matter impartially and rationally during this critical time that carries major implications for regional and international relations.
It is clear to see that the Iranians seem to be holding on to their delusions, and to this day, they still insist on changing the name of the “Arabian Gulf” into the “Persian Gulf,” making sure to emphasize this issue during every event they attend in Washington. Iran is likely to keep emphasizing this name during any upcoming negotiations between Tehran and the new US administration.
It is well known that the name coined by Western geographers to refer to the body of water separating the Iranian plateau and the Arabian Peninsula has long been disputed for merely symbolic reasons and in fact, the name holds no political, social or cultural bearings. This delusional emotional mindset is the same mindset other Iranian policies are built upon. Iran’s inflated sense of entitlement stems from its hegemonic political project that derives its legitimacy from historical inaccuracies that are rejected by many.
In fact, it can be argued that the Eastern side of the Gulf, starting from Ahvaz in the north and reaching Bandar Lengeh in the south, is Arabian since these areas are inhabited by Arab tribes. Also, the prevailing culture in the area below the Iranian plateau is entirely Arabian or we could say that they hold major resemblances. However, it seems that Iranian arrogance and tyranny take precedence over facts, and bending truths and spreading misinformation seems to be the Iranian way.
In reality, both Iran and neighboring Arab countries are member states of the United Nations, and they are equal in terms of their duties and rights as per international law. Therefore, Iran’s expansionist interventionist agenda is unwarranted in the context of international relations.
Iran’s shortsighted stance is in fact a dilemma. As I have previously mentioned, with all the recent developments taking place globally and regionally, the new US administration is likely to reconsider its stance regarding many outstanding issues in the Middle East and the Gulf, and it may adopt a completely different approach to tackle these issues.
It is worth noting that despite all the religious, partisan, and cultural differences between all successive US administrations, they have proven that they have one thing in common, which is the US’s unwavering support for Israel, which remains undisputed. There are no questions about the US’s commitment to Israel, but rather the way different administrations express it. This commitment is not necessarily aligned with Iranian aspirations. In fact, with the recent unprecedented cooperation between some Middle Eastern countries and Israel, many shifts in US foreign policy are expected to take place and this will tip the scales.
It is safe to say that Iran’s hostile stance toward Israel is merely expressed verbally through its aggressive rhetoric and it is never backed by real action. Despite all the latest military strikes carried out by Israel on Iranian targets in Syria, Iran is unlikely to retaliate and if it does it will be a minor response. The Iranian regime is fully aware that any direct action taken against Israel will cost Iran its seat at the negotiations table and it will unleash the wrath of Western powers, particularly the US.
Despite the massive fluctuation across various administrations, the US is historically obligated to ensure two things, firstly, its commitment to Israel’s security and secondly, ensuring its superiority over its neighbors. Any real analyst of modern history and the inter-relations between the two countries can trace this commitment. At this point, it has become clear Israel’s security is an extension of America’s national security.
On another note, there is a broad consensus among GCC countries that stands on solid foundations and common interests, which is based on the fact that these countries recognize the serious threat Iranian ambitions pose for the region, and this was clearly articulated during AlUla Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit Declaration.
Moreover, as a result of Iran’s authoritarian regime, tensions are mounting among opposing Iranian wings within the state regarding leadership and policies. These tensions are expected to escalate during the upcoming months as more struggles arise within the Iranian community whose role remains absent from political participation and development. The Iranian community is slowly becoming impatient and unwilling to offer further compromises to no avail.
As portrayed through the media, the only two bargaining chips that the Iranian regime keeps emphasizing and using as intimidation tactics are firstly, the development of the Iranian ballistic missile program with constant images being broadcast worldwide of their launch, and secondly, its relentless pursuit of nuclear power in an attempt to hold the world hostage and instill more fear and turmoil.
However, the reality on the ground clearly reveals that Iran does not have the means to carry out its objectives since its other weapon capabilities are non-existent or dilapidated, its air force is ineffective, and it is largely lacking in terms of heavy artillery.
Both the ballistic missile program and the nuclear program may be the only tricks Iran has up its sleeve.
However, the more Iran embraces the nuclear threat as an instrument of power and a deterrent, the more support it loses internationally, just like what happened with France recently. Furthermore, there is a third element that we can add to Iran’s show of force, which is establishing pro-Iranian militias in neighboring countries, such as in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen, and to some extent in Syria.
This third element is relatively temporary, and it cannot last on a long-term basis as the state’s presence continues to weaken in all these countries. However, who can say if this weakness is permanent, or that the people of these countries will continue to be susceptible to Iran’s intervention?
There is a lot of controversy and propaganda surrounding this third element and soon enough these countries will realize the price for their freedom lies in eradicating Iranian colonialism. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrations in both Lebanon and Iraq could be seen as a clear indication of the people’s growing discontent with Iranian intervention.
During the coming months, evil might take on multiple forms. Iran has begun preparing for a new critical stage consisting of a series of intimidation attempts with naval and missile maneuvers. This new stage is driven by Iran’s fear of an unknown future as well as its hope to succeed in demonstrating its power and ability to build up pressure. In this context, it is only logical to assume that any shift can have major ramifications for the region especially since the scales do not seem to be balanced during this coming period. The new US administration has declared that it is ready to enter into negotiations with Iran over three issues, which are the nuclear project, missiles program, and Iran’s intervention in the region.
As declared in President Joe Biden’s published manifesto, these negotiations will take on the diplomatic approach of “bending not breaking,” and force will be used only when necessary. At the same time, we are aware that the unstable temperament and delusional tendencies of the person in charge of Iran’s decision-making make him highly resistant to accepting a rational approach.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.