It is difficult to comprehend much of what is happening in the Middle East outside of Iran’s active role in the region and its competition with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt to be the region’s most important actor. In a translated article on the website Politicians Post, the following issue was discussed: Is the Iranian nuclear deal changing the balance of power in the Middle East? The impact of the deal is twofold. In reality, the deal with Iran gives the country the opportunity to freeze its march toward the production of a nuclear weapon for 15 years in exchange for a normalization of relations with the rest of the world. Iran has also been freed from sanctions, which has allowed sanctioned money to fill the state coffers and grant credibility to its politicians. The deal has therefore reinforced the notion that breaking international law can have immense rewards.
The nuclear deal with Iran contradicts the previous impression that the United States would withdraw from the region and stay out of Iran’s regional affairs. From an Arab perspective, this realization suggests the U.S. has moved away from its traditional alliances in the region and is now on Iran’s side.
In either case, this creates a problem for everyone, from Arab countries to the United States. For the U.S., the deal was a strategic move toward reducing its engagement in Middle East crises, and as a result, U.S. influence in the region has been reduced to an alarmingly low level. Several months before the signing of the agreement, we repeatedly wrote in the Middle East briefing that the U.S. had lost the loyalty of the Arab states and would not succeed in gaining Iran’s loyalty. Back then, we wanted to point out the dangerous decline of American influence.
Therefore, it is against the backdrop of a decline in American influence in the Middle East that Iran has become increasingly aggressive. As a result, the U.S. is left waiting for a signal from Iran that it is willing to cooperate, while Arab nations feel abandoned by their longtime ally. The situation is loaded with problems, and Iran’s request that Vladimir Putin intervene in Syria, and possibly in Iraq in the future, has only worsened the situation on the ground. It is now clear that America’s regional agenda has left room for both Russia and Iran to play significant roles. The United States has voluntarily decided to limit its own role in the Middle East.
With a clearer picture now in the Middle East, after the Iranian nuclear deal, the nonproliferation platform can be a tool to help strengthen U.S.-Arab relations. It is possible to summarize this opportunity in two words: contain Iran. The struggle to ensure a balance of power appears to be a tangible concern right now in the Middle East, and is manifesting itself in Syria and Iraq. Thus, there is a need to adjust the balance of power in those two countries to spare the region from further Iranian subversion in the future.
In my opinion, to counter those who say Iran does nothing subversive in the region, we need simply to ask ourselves, why did the Iranians infiltrate Iraq after the American invasion? Second, why did they kill both Americans and Iraqis in order to become a player on the international stage? Should we ask the terrorists who carry out kidnappings in Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? Should we ask about the ships that carry weapons for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which were monitored and intercepted on the Yemeni coast? If so, then we should therefore ask about the presence of Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon and Syria. They are not there for tourism, but rather for the purposes of subversion and terrorist operations.
The balance of power in the region is now defined by the ongoing conflict in Syria. Syria is where Iran, the U.S., Russia, Turkey, and the many Arab countries have tested their abilities to shape the region’s dynamics. However, 10 to 15 years ago the situation was different, with only the United States and Arab countries involved in shaping the region. The change is due to three factors. First was the earth-shattering year of 2011, which severely damaged the region’s security. Second is Iran’s progress toward developing asymmetrical and conventional military capabilities. Third is the gradual decline of the regional role of the U.S.
In Syria and Iraq, Iran must to learn to establish cooperative bridges in the region — through commerce, development and collaboration — in order to build a shared regional future for all countries. This is in opposition to its current plan of subversive acts, asymmetrical warfare, and becoming involved in regional events that intensify disasters, such as those currently engulfing Syria and Iraq. In those two countries, there will be a re-establishing of the balance of power across the whole Middle East.
To those who are still thinking a moderate Iran is possible, I say, be prepared for an increase in disappointing surprises. Iran will not become a less aggressive state. Instead, the exact opposite will occur. Iran will become a more aggressive power after the nuclear deal. If Iran is to reshape its regional policies, it is necessary for the country to learn that acts of subversion will only bring trouble to its political institutions and people. Unfortunately, there is no other way to convince the Revolutionary Guard to change the way in which they deal with situations in the region. In reality, peace in the region is directly at odds with the nature and existence of the al-Quds force, which is led by Omar Suleiman. If there were peace in the region, then the most active elements in the Revolutionary Guard would be useless. A valid question then is what will be able to catalyze the Guard to seek peace and stability in the region?
Realistically, if there’s a concern for the U.S. president after the signing of the nuclear deal, it would be that Iran has been pushed into playing a more positive role in the region. It is necessary for the United States and Arab countries to rebuild regional strategies and business relationships in order to teach the Iranians a simple fact that they don’t understand — that the Arab world is not Persian, and any attempts by Iran to make it so would be a mistake.
America and Arab countries must not limit their business cooperation to arms sales. This could potentially be problematic for them if Iran does not stop meddling in the region and calling on others to intervene on its behalf. If this happens, this will become a black hole in the world system. It is important to remember that Europe had to be pried from the Middle East after World War I. Removing them a second time would require Iran to understand something that it has yet to comprehend. Measures should be in place for open discussions and to clarify to the Iranians that their activities would cost them dearly. By speaking loudly, the world can possibly deter the Iranian people from listening to their government’s radical rhetoric. Both the international community and the Iranian people will put the Middle East in danger if they believe that the softly worded diplomatic statements made by Tehran and some politicians will come to fruition. What is important is that subsequent actions are taken. These actions point to Suleiman’s delusional vision to include the Middle East as a part of Iran, as if the country were still the great Persian Empire from antiquity.