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‘The region has been dancing to Tehran’s tune’

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image What is indisputable is that regional factors gives Iranian leaders ample reason for saber-rattling.

...“Iran succeeded in becoming a religious and political reference for all Shia, asserting its presence in other countries from Afghanistan to Lebanon. ...

As Iran’s foreign policy continues to destabilise the Arab World and the entire region, the P5+1 group has extended its deadline to strike a deal in which UN sanctions will be eased in return for Iran ensuring its nuclear programme can only be used for peaceful purposes.

“The region has been dancing to the rhythm of Iran’s tune for decades,” wrote Ghassan Charbel in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

“It is as though the role Iran plays is both a matter of importance and a crucial problem.”

He said Iran had benefited from five factors since its revolution. The first was the uprising against the Shah started almost simultaneously with Egypt’s withdrawal from the Arab-Israeli conflict. He noted that this meant “Ayatollah Khomeini realised the extraordinary value of standing against Israel so they embraced resistance”.

A second factor was Syria taking a stand against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, alongside Khomeini. A third was the Gulf War, which gave Iran the time to rebuild its strength and renew its ambitions.

A fourth factor was the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003 followed by the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq by 2011, effectively leaving the country in the hands of Iran and its allies, he explained. The fifth factor is the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“Those gifts that Iran received cannot explain its strength, as it stems from elements and policies that have given it the capacity to use such gifts and embrace challenges, ” he added.

“Iran succeeded in becoming a religious and political reference for all Shia, asserting its presence in other countries from Afghanistan to Lebanon.

“Such strength was reasserted when [Iran] rallied its allies in Iraq and Lebanon to fight on Syrian soil in view of preventing the fall of the Assad regime.”

He concluded that Iran faces two risks: “The first is that the costs of the roles it plays may exceed the country’s economic capacity. The second is that the Iranian regime is incapable of transitioning to a normal state after a lengthy addiction to confrontations, tensions and front-lines.”

Tariq Alhomayed, writing in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al Awsat, likened the nuclear talks with Iran to a marathon.

“Supporters of Barack Obama are convinced he can compensate for his setbacks by reaching an agreement with Iran. This means that any trouble for Mr Obama will bring trouble to our region, especially when the nature of such agreement remains unclear.

“In the region, it is not merely a question of coexisting another two years with Mr Obama, who has not kept any of the promises he made to the region.

“We face a difficult period, asking ourselves how to save our region from a US president whose last personal chance to make history is to reach an agreement with Iran, albeit a bad one that will be catastrophic not only for our region but for the international community,” he wrote.

He cited “a senior western diplomat who said the agreement with Iran would have to satisfy not only those at the negotiations but also other countries in the Middle East”, with one key aspects being non-proliferation.

However he also warned about the dangers of a weak agreement.

“Naturally, the message that countries in this region must deliver to Mr Obama is that if the United states is too lenient with Iran, then anything and everything is allowed,” he concluded.

Translated by Carla Mirza

cmirza@thenational.ae


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