The impossibility of changing Iran’s policy in the region

Randa Takieddine

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After concluding his visit to Washington and before heading to Australia, French President Emmanuel Macron kept calling Iranian and Russian presidents as well as the Israeli prime minister regarding possible modifications to the Iranian nuclear deal.

Although he thoroughly discussed this matter during his meeting with Donald Trump in the White House to convince him to stick to the agreement, he added four elements to it to reassure Trump on contentious matters related to Iran’s policy in the region.

Behind the scene parleys

The international community is bizarre in its ways. When the seven countries started negotiating with Iran on the nuclear issue, they repeatedly maintained that the deal had nothing to do with Iran’s policy in the region. Today, they want to include this element in the nuclear deal. Iranian president has publicly announced that his disapproval of accepting any amendments to the deal.

Nevertheless, the phone call between him and French president was long and inclusive which means that the rejection might be in public, but in reality the two presidents were discussing and pitching ideas over what can be changed.

However, Rouhani is not the Revolutionary Guard and has no power regarding Iran’s policy in the region, neither in Yemen nor in Syria, Iraq, or in Lebanon. Convincing Iran to cease meddling in all these countries is an unattainable task because until today it has been interveningwithout anyone confronting it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding high price from Europe to convince Iran against meddling in Syria and Yemen

Randa Takieddine

It is public knowledge that Iran has infiltrated Syrian territory not only through the channels of the Hezbollah forces, but also through Iranian citizens who have been sent to become new residents in the cities that now lie deserted thanks to the Syrian regime. When countries started negotiating with Iran over the nuclear issue in 2013, Russia was not present in Syria, but Iran was still expanding there thanks to Hezbollah.

It was also powerful in Iraq as a result of Obama’s policy that hastened the evacuation of US troops from Iraq and handed the situation over to Nuri al-Maliki who allowed the expansion of Iranian influence in the country. Today, Trump wants to withdraw from Syria just as Obama did in Iraq, but Macron asked him to put it off until later for fear of Iran’s expansion in Syria.

Sooner or later Trump will withdraw his troops from Syria and Iran may replace it thanks to the Syrian regime, which cannot bring back the cities it lost without the trusteeship of the Iranian and Russian forces that will not withdraw from the country.

Scrapping deal will not cause more instability

Modifying the Iranian nuclear deal, with Macron wishing to include Iran’s policy in the region, cannot be implemented because the Iranian military faction will not cede this card to Rouhani. The Revolutionary Guard has its grip in the region, where they multiply the crises and interventions that irritate Iranian citizens who react to the situation of their country’s economy being at the bottom while Iran is handing over money to Hezbollah and to a Syrian war that doesn’t interest the citizens.

Macron and the European efforts to change the nuclear deal cannot bear fruit on the level of changing Iran’s interventionist attitude in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. As long as Iran keeps providing the Houthis, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime forces with ballistic missiles and advanced weapons more wars and disasters will enflame in the region. The Iranian nuclear deal has not solved this issue.

If the deal is withdrawn or if it is to be kept the same way, it will not affect instability in the region. Israel is increasing its assaults into Syria, targeting the location of Iranian weapons. It has also worsened the situation in Lebanonbecause the peril of facing the Jewish state and Hezbollah isvery much present.

European countries along with some Arab countries are relying on Russia’s leverage on Iran to convince it to stop meddling in Syria and Yemen, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding a high price for doing this. The Islamic Republic of Iran has the same aspiration of dominance that competes with those of Russia’s in the region.

The next few weeks will be conclusive for the US position regarding the nuclear issue. Trump is saying that he would rip the deal apart but after Macron and Merkel’s visit, secretary of state Mike Pompeo has started talking about changing it.Certainly, the pressure on Iran will escalate.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Randa Takieddine is a Lebanese writer and the director of Al-Hayat newspaper office in Paris.

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