Monday, February 8, 2016

Time for Washington to board the right train in the Middle East

Iranians demonstrate in Paris against Rouhani visit

Campaign aimed at isolating Iran has been the topic of major news reports out of the Middle East most recently. This blitzkrieg launched by Riyadh caught Tehran off guard. This policy adopted by Iran’s archrival in the Arab world should provide a good example for the West, especially the U.S., on how to deal with Iran.
This corner of the globe is inching closer and closer to a major regional face-off as Riyadh and other Sunni capitals have severed all diplomatic ties with Tehran. While such actions should have been adopted long ago, to this point major powers across the globe are playing into Iran’s hand and calling for restraint as they fear trekking into unknown territory.
Saudi Arabia was joined shortly by Bahrain and Sudan in severing all relations with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates, key to Iran for trade, raised alarm bells by recalling its envoy from the Iranian capital. As Iran naïvely used the execution of a controversial Shiite figure accused of terrorist activities in Saudi Arabia, the resulting fallout has sent sectarian shockwaves throughout the Middle East. To add in salt to injury for Tehran, Kuwait also followed the footsteps of its Arab allies and cut relations with Iran, needless to mention the United Nations Security Council strongly condemning Iran’s attack on the Saudi embassy and consulate. There is a growing list of Riyadh allies that have decided to finally stand up against Tehran and severe or lower any links with Iran.
Under this pressure, Tehran is already distraught and regretting its foolish actions in this regard.
The gap between Saudi Arabia, a country enjoying support from the West and allies in the Sunni world, and the regime ruling Iran is forcing the entire Middle East into a very close encounter and imbroglio feared by major powers across the globe.
Hidden in the evaluations read about recent Middle East developments is the undeniable truth that a large number of these governments are not merely Saudi allies; they actually comprise the hallmark of U.S. policy in the Middle East for many decades now. This group of Arab nations have since the early 1990s continued to have a place in U.S. strategy in the Middle East, ever more important now as the world is fighting ISIS.
One very common aspect in these Arab states is their dissent over the decision made by U.S. President Barack Obama to seal the Iran nuclear deal. The only analysis possible is the harsh reality that very important allies for Washington have shown a cold shoulder to the Obama Administration and its policy of engaging with Iran.
As Washington finds itself dangerously lost in the maze of establishing closer ties with Tehran and preserving strategic links to Riyadh, the Obama administration is desperately calling for normalization and a speedy end to the hostile tone that has already engulfed the region in the worst standoff seen between these two archrivals in decades.
As Obama continues to his policy of “leading from behind”, Russia is taking full advantage and has actually proposed to act as an arbiter in this dispute. So much for an arbiter that is supporting Bashar al-Assad by carpet bombing Syrian civilians and moderate opposition forces.
The question is why is America silent and not stepping forward? Why is Obama sacrificing America’s prestige amongst its Sunni allies, at the price of receiving absolutely nothing from the ayatollahs in Tehran? The unfortunate truth is that in his last year in office Obama enjoys no respect in the Middle East. The ayatollahs played the U.S. negotiating team to have an estimated $100 billion of assets unfrozen, all to most certainly be used to further fuel Middle East proxy wars against the Sunni states, spread terrorism and expand Islamic fundamentalism. This is exactly why Riyadh and others believe Obama stabbed them in the back, all for a legacy that will go down as bad deal with Iran.
The time has come for the West to put an end to the feeble appeasement policy with the ayatollahs in Iran that has rendered nothing but blunder. Riyadh has successfully thrashed Iran’s ambitions in Yemen and orchestrated a 35-nation Islamic coalition against terrorism. This is the tone that Tehran understands, and the language the West must start learning and using vis-à-vis the ayatollahs.

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