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Vienna: Same mistakes, same results

Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi

Published: Updated:

To observers of the Vienna talks between the countries party to the old nuclear deal and the Iranian regime, it may look like history is repeating itself. Making the same mistakes and expecting different results is self-deception, for history never repeats itself, but rather deceives the naive and the gullible.

The old nuclear deal was a complete failure, with logical and pragmatic reasons behind that failure, and whatever the results of the Vienna talks, they are repeating the same mistake as before. One of the main reasons for the failure of the previous agreement was that it excluded the Arab Gulf states completely from negotiations, signing and declaration, which is what is being repeated today in Vienna. The outcome will certainly be no different.

The Gulf Cooperation Council demanded to participate in the Vienna talks, its Secretary-General sent explicit messages to the ministers of the P5 + 1 states, expressing that the Arab Gulf states are the countries that support stability in the region and the world and are primarily concerned with any negotiations with the Iranian regime. Their exclusion from the talks confirms that this defunct agreement - that is now trying to be resuscitated - will never come back to life.

Those who are following the talks in the news need only compare the situation a few months ago, when the Iranian regime was scared and under the vice grip of harsh US sanctions, with the situation today. The Western pandering to Iran is now quite obvious and the Iranian regime is exploiting that through bold moves. Could anyone have believed only a few months ago that the Iranian regime would now be declaring that uranium enrichment has reached 60 percent? The answer is nobody, but this question helps us compare the two realities and get a sense of the Western inclination towards any type of agreement with Iran.

One of the flaws of the previous nuclear agreement was that it did not clearly address two main areas of concern for the countries of the region: First, it did not address Iran's ambitions for expanding its control and influence and its blatant interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries through direct and semi-direct occupation in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. It did not demand that Iran be subject to international laws in the region in this regard, and therefore Iran's evil actions increased after that failed agreement, until the succession of an American administration that was tougher on Iran.

Second, the previous nuclear agreement did not address Iran's ballistic missiles that were threatening the Arab Gulf states, which was one of the reasons that agreement failed. Iran today is targeting Saudi oil and global energy supplies and targeting civilians in public in broad daylight. It is no longer a fear of what Iran could do if it were unleashed, but an actual reality that the whole world is watching.

The return of withdrawal and isolationism as key principles behind the thinking and decisions of the United States, the most powerful empire in the history of the world, indicates a decline in influence, by conscious political desire and choice not by necessity.The news talks about an imminent US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a different looking withdrawal from Iraq, the Gulf and other regions around the world. This withdrawal and separation will have consequences for the countries of the world in two directions: Major countries will seek to extend more influence and impose more power and allied countries will search for safer and more favorable options.

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

It is not logical to withdraw from the world and think that you can preserve your gains. The logic of history is in finding equilibrium, and withdrawal that leaves a void will cause others rush to fill it. When allies are let down, they search for common interests with those who present them and understand their importance and necessity, and the balance of power changes. History is rational, its path is logical, there is wisdom to its dynamic, and the aggrieved will have to reconsider their options.

Only the naïve believe that states will remain silent while a supposed ally turns a blind eye to their enemies and is silent about threats to their independence and stability, and when it assumes that they will be unable to fight for their existence with all the effort, pain and hardship that this requires. This will lead to an arms race that no one can stop nor control the effects of, not only on these states but on all of humanity.

The messages sent by the Vienna talks are that if you are a rogue political regime, you will suffer international sanctions, but if you persist in spreading evil, then the major countries and international institutions will negotiate with you, and if you persist further, they will offer you concessions, lift the sanctions, and pander to your demands.

The moments of rise and fall in international powers are moments of great turmoil in which there are winners and losers, this is how history unfolds and this is what humanity's collective experience indicates. Therefore the world is on the verge of more conflicts and wars that may last for decades in different regions of the world, and the history of countries, nations and peoples is the best proof of this.

With the close and unprecedented interconnection of the world, no one is immune to major influences and disturbances, no matter how strong, distant and fortified they think themselves. We need only look at terrorism in recent decades to know that neglecting the dynamic of history can create real problems for even the most stable and powerful states.

In this context, the world will quickly discover that once some sanctions are lifted against Iran, terrorism has not ended and that it is able to return in multiple forms and names as long as it is supported through strategies and policies, which pass without punishment, and many will pay the price of inaction and an unpredictable withdrawal from the world.

Fundamentalism will flourish in the West under the auspices of the state itself, and it will cause countless problems for the countries that defend it and think that the evils of these groups will be confined to Arab countries and Muslim countries and will not affect those countries. Turning a blind eye here will have dire consequences in the future, a disease that is not dealt with can turn into a pandemic.

Newton said: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and Hegel said: History is cyclical. Logical thinking and a pragmatic reading of the dynamics of history and the interactions of the world can give an important outlook for the future that is neither rose-colored nor gray.

In conclusion, as the Arabs say: Nothing scratches your skin better than your own fingernail. Stability and peace in the region and the world require the strength to impose, protect and defend them.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

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