Michael Flynn and adopting the right approach

We are witnessing a pragmatic shift of American policy toward the region

Sawsan Al Shaer
Sawsan Al Shaer
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American President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn said on Thursday that the Trump administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” Trump published this warning on his Twitter page after Flynn finished his press conference.

This represented the first outcome of the American policy toward Iran and it was launched by the 57-year-old advisor, Flynn, who disagreed with the former Obama administration and resigned – or was dismissed – over how to resolve the situation in Syria. He previously spoke about the rise of al-Nusra Front and ISIS in Syria and said their rise was not a coincidence or an unintentional mistake but “a willful decision by the Obama administration.”

We are witnessing a pragmatic shift of American policy toward the region. According to all American dailies, Flynn has had strong influence on Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign. Flynn was once asked in an interview whether the Obama administration turned a blind eye to his analysis of military intelligence regarding the threat of the rise of terrorism in Syria, and he said: “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye. I think it was a willful decision.”

This was our exact same opinion. Therefore, we agree here with this point in terms of a future American policy toward Iran in particular.

Not only that but one is even more surprised when realizing that in his book The Field of Fight, which was published in August 2016, Flynn said that Iran established an alliance with al-Qaeda and the Lebanese party Hezbollah against their mutual enemy, i.e. the West and particularly the United States.

He confirmed that Iran participated in the explosions of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 although it’s been documented that al-Qaeda carried them out. It’s true that al-Qaeda did but Iran had a major role too. According to Flynn, the roots of this enmity are due to the nature of the Islamic Republic.

How can you contain a country that exported thousands of tons of C-4 and TNT, the most dangerous of explosives, to Bahrain and trained and funded terrorist operations? Many still die as a result of these operations

Sawsan Al Shaer

Flynn believes that Iran’s victory over “Great Satan” in Iraq will force small countries in the Middle East to submit to Iranian policies and adopt unfriendly behavior toward the US and its allies. He thinks that all this can be achieved without the nuclear bomb which all politicians in the West became preoccupied with.

Isn’t this what we repeatedly said to all American officials who visited the region? All these warnings fell on deaf ears. General Flynn thinks that focusing on the nuclear cause is a serious mistake in the West’s strategic vision and that the major cause is the Iranian regime and its extremist concept of Islam.

Isn’t this what we’ve been saying for eight years but no one believes us? We thought the Americans were stupid or acting stupid due to their hesitant policy which ignored all these facts and indisputable evidence of Iran’s involvement in threatening mainly American interests and our interests in region. The Americans thus insisted that Iran’s “containment” is possible.

Houthi menace

How can one contain a country that exported more than 19,000 kilograms of weapons, ammunition and explosives to a country like Kuwait and insist to adopt a policy of “wisdom” with it although according to Kuwaiti National Security Bureau Chief Sheikh Thamer al-Ali there’s evidence that all these weapons and explosives came from Iran? This was the penalty of Kuwait which has been gentle with Iran so let alone what it did in Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq.

How can you contain a country that exported thousands of tons of C-4 and TNT, the most dangerous of explosives, to Bahrain and trained and funded terrorist operations? Many still die as a result of these operations and most recently, lieutenant Hisham al-Hammadi fell a martyr after he was shot dead by a Kalashnikov.

How can you contain a country which in August 2016 admitted through the Iranian official news agency (IRNA) that the missile which Houthi militias fired against Saudi territories was Zelzal-3, an Iranian-made missile? In May of last year, the American navy said it intercepted an Iranian ship in the Arab Sea and seized an arms shipment that was intended for the Houthis in Yemen.

The question which must be answered and which answer must immediately become the headline of Gulf foreign policy is how can we maximize benefit from this Gulf-American consensus regarding these special issues linked to Iran? The second question is how can we harmonize between Flynn’s vision of radical Islam and with the part related to Sunni terrorist groups and our vision in the Gulf Cooperation Council in terms of joint cooperation against terrorism?

Didn’t we demand a fair vision of radicalism and stress that this vision must view all terrorist acts as “terrorism” whether the armed illegitimate group is Sunni or Shiite? Wasn’t our problem with the former president, i.e. Obama, is that his administration’s vision on terrorism was not fair as they only saw terrorism when it was carried out by Sunni groups but turned a blind eye to it when it was carried out by Shiite ones?

Didn’t we offer our help to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS and complain of deception and mysteriousness of the former American administration’s claims in this war to combat terrorism? And here we are, Flynn confirms our worries and agrees with them.
This Gulf-American consensus can achieve a lot of gains which will serve the region’s security and stability thus positively affecting their interests.

This article first appeared in Asharq Al-Awsat on Feb. 05, 2017.
Sawsan Al Shaer is a Bahraini writer and journalist. Her Twitter handle is @sawsanalshaer

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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