Someone asked me recently why the Gulf countries are worried about the possibility of American-Iranian reconciliation?
I told him that everyone, not only the Gulf countries, is worried. Despite its influence in the United States, Israel is also concerned about this possibility and is openly expressing its fears. Those who do not express their feelings, such as the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, are also sweating from fear.
I have already written in details about the concerns of the Gulf states. President Barack Obama’s administration might rush to reach a solution making Iran free of crippling sanctions in exchange for ending its military nuclear program. Obama’s administration might also allow Iran to limit its nuclear program in such a way as to affect the Arab countries on the other side of the Gulf waters. These are the concerns in the Gulf region.
The Syrian regime and Hezbollah are troubled by the Geneva talks between the six world powers and Iran, for different reasons.They are afraid that Iran would abandon them at the negotiating table to retain its military nuclear project.
Iran’s government will need to abandon Bashar al-Assad’s regime and therefore end the Syrian tragedyAbdulrahman al-Rashed
To prove its serious will to change, Iran’s government will need to abandon Bashar al-Assad’s regime and therefore end the Syrian tragedy. Moreover, Obama will not be able to convince Congress about any reconciliation deal with Iran unless there is special interest to Israel in it. This is why Tehran’s regime will have to undertake disarming Hezbollah as well. Without such sacrifices, the congress will not approve on political reconciliation with Iran.
As for abandoning Assad’s regime, Iranians will probably volunteer to get rid of it, because they know that its survival is impossible; therefore Iran would use it as a mere bargaining chip to improve its negotiating terms.
The end of the status quo
Iran’s allies, Assad and Hezbollah, are worried about the “5+1” negotiations but they cannot stop them. The end of this status quo - a political situation allowing their existence - will most likely cause the end of these regimes. Hezbollah, which represents a complete entity in Lebanon, was brought into being after Iran's conflict with Israel: when this conflict ends, there would be no need for Hezbollah anymore, and it will surely be disarmed in order to move to a new status quo.
As for Assad’s regime, when Bashar took power after the death of his father in 2000, he established strong bonds with Tehran’s regime; he got involved in the assassinations of Lebanese leaders and undertook the so-called Iraqi resistance tasks in the past decade.
Today, the majority of the world believes that it is a criminal regime and many want Assad to step down, including his Russian allies.
Iranians know that Assad’s regime has expired. It has become a burden and protecting his rule means sending more troops, which will weigh down Iran in order to match the massive Gulf-Saudi spending efforts to overthrow Assad.
These are reasonable and logical possibilities instigated by the Geneva negotiations but we do not know either the priorities or beliefs of the Obama administration.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 22, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.
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