With the end of the Iranian nuclear deal it becomes important to consider what actions will be taken by the clerical regime. What are the conditions facing Tehran at the moment and what might their next steps look like?
The fact that the deal was so well received by Iran should be enough for anyone to have a moments pause. We can determine that since its inception that the behavior of Iran has only become more destabilizing and more ambitious. It has not given any incentive for a moderation of posture and under President Rouhani there is only a more interventionist policy in Yemen and Syria.
The thinking in some quarters was that with the deal the framework articulated and agreed upon would allow Iran to be “brought into the community of nations,” and that further integration into the global marketplace would provide it with inducements to moderate.
There is the way we would like things to be and then there is the way things are. Iran took the access to European markets, multinational corporations, foreign currency to provide a sizable expansion for its involvement in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq. These were the results of the nuclear deal and the efforts to reach out and accommodate Iran, which gave it more legitimacy than it deserved.
However, it is clear that it is not business as usual anymore. Washington has rejected the thinking that led to the nuclear deal and all efforts to accommodate Iran as fallacy. It has looked at the actions of the regime and assessed them for what they are. With a span lasting nearly 40 years Tehran under its ruling state ideology of Khomeinism is judging Tehran on what it has done and continues to do.
So with the nuclear deal no longer in existence, a strategic realignment with the Arabian Gulf and Israel, the occupation of nearly 40 percent of Syria, an absolute domination of the Euphrates River Valley, a sizable presence in Northern Iraq under American control quietly, and quickly, the United States has redrawn the strategic balance sheet in the Middle East in dramatic order.
Washington has rejected the thinking that led to the nuclear deal and all efforts to accommodate Iran as fallacy. It has looked at the actions of the regime and assessed them for what they areFaisal Al-Shammeri
Involvement in Syria
It has not been re-edited to favor Tehran. There is no end to it’s involvement in Syria. Despite all of its efforts it has done a great deal to keep the Assad regime in power but there is no clear way to a victory obtained by military supremacy.
Irrespective of Moscow and Tehran’s ongoing efforts there will not be a final diplomatic and political outcome that will be recognized by the international community.
And with the regime in Damascus nearly out of manpower it no longer has the means to retake the Euphrates River Valley, or remove the Turkish Army from the northwest, or eliminate the pockets of terrorists that remain in the country that, ironically enough, it played a role in creating during the initial uprising against the Assad regime.
If Tehran were to leave, the Assad regime would collapse. If Tehran stays indefinitely, it is making a commitment that it cannot financially sustain. There is not one country in the Middle East that would be indifferent to, or for that matter is now, Syria as an Iranian province stuffed to the brim with sectarian militias, Hezbollah, along with medium and long range ballistic missiles.
So what now? The clerical regime cannot survive in its current format. It’s only lifelines are those multinational companies and nations who are insistent on doing business with Tehran despite its radical nature.
These relationships provide Iran with vitally needed foreign currency and markets it would not otherwise have access to. And if Tehran were to accommodate, or remove its radical tendencies, then it would lose the initiative that it has possessed since 1979.
Unless a Soviet Union-Cold War type containment policy is implemented then its only course of action is to become more bellicose. To lose Syria would be a strategic defeat that Iran could not survive.
To stay in Syria while Israel carries out surgical strikes anywhere inside the country at its own choosing makes it look weak with every day it doesn’t respond. To leave Syria with The United States, Turkey, the SDF and Kurdish elements still occupying vast swathes of the country would make all its expenditure of treasure and lives pointless and Assad completely helpless.
This is not to make the case that the nuclear deal made them restrained or accommodative. Again their actions since its implementation have become more bold and more destabilizing for everyone in the region.
The regime under Khamenei, with the IRGC and Quds Force, has to stay the course it has set out on. There is no turning back. Therefore, it falls to the United States, the Arabian Gulf, and strategically allied partners of the Middle East to confront Tehran, head on, diplomatically, economically, and militarily when called for.
An Iran, free from the grip of the Ulema, purged of Khomeinism, sponsoring humanity instead of terrorism, sending goods instead of proxies across borders, is the objective. The regime is against that at all costs. It’s own actions are all anyone needs to verify that.
Faisal Al-Shammeri is a political analyst based in Washington DC. He tweets @mr_alshammeri.