contours of the Grand Bargain between the United States and Russia are
becoming clearer as the the two countries are reassuming equal seats in
maturing the deal. It is now also clear and evident that the Islamic
Republic of Iran has become a cornerstone of the Great Bargain
stretching from Afghanistan to the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central
Asia and to Central Europe as well. Russia regained the prominence and
weight it had occupied in the Soviet era of the two Super Powers because
of the determination of President Vladimir Putin, but also due to
President Barack Obama's acquiescence to reviving the balance of the two
giants, rather than singling out the United States unipolar superpower
«no war» President Barrack Obama dealt out of the equation any
military action in dealing with Iran's nuclear program having dealt it
out of responding to the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian war. The
American decision in the Obama era is to reach an understanding with
Russia - and China as well - not only on oil, gas, and strategic
interests, but also on how confront Sunni extremism extending from Syria
and Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan and the five Islamic Republics in
Central Asia. It is a quantum leap in U.S. relations with the
countries of the Middle East and the Gulf. A leap that requires the
veterans allies to absorb the meaning of what occurred in the
American-Iranian relationship; to study the evolving
American-Iranian relations without panicking.
in the folds of the recent historical developments in the American -
Iranian relationship windows to the necessary reform of the traditional
relations: the US - Arab relations as well as the American - Israeli.
And certainly, there is an urgent need to revisit the old strategies of
proxy wars whether they are launched for the purpose of regional
competition or in the context of Sunni - Shiite confrontation.
agreement between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security
Council - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, and France - plus
Germany- on the Iranian nuclear program tops the unequivocal priority of
the six countries. These countries put all other matter in the second or
Syrian issue fell from the ladder of priorities. Syria's neighbors are
no longer of interest to the six countries. Jordan is secured and
guaranteed by the United States. Lebanon finds only indifference. Iraq
is practically a foregone conclusion in favor of Iran. The
most significant paradigm shift occurred in the American-Iranian
relationship as well as in the U.S. strategy toward the Middle
East be it towards Israel or towards the Arab oil states. The
Iranian priorities have been met. By
doing so, the Obama Administration has opened the door to the export
of the ideology of the Iranian theocracy to the neighborhood. By
doing so, the Obama Administration decided to adopt what was started
by the administration of George W. Bush, which is to partner with Iran
in it's war on Al-Qaeda and its likes; but this time in reaching
understandings with Russia and China as well.
between the US, Russia, China and Iran to prevent the revival of Sunni
extremism in Afghanistan or it's growth in Pakistan is an important
part in the new emerging map. Saudi- Iranian competition for influence
in those countries has now different parameters in light of the strengthened
American - Iranian Détente. Iran
is present in all the equations, including in the battle for influence
in Central Europe between the United States and Russia. Russian
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quick to declare in the wake of the
nuclear deal with Iran that the agreement eliminates the need for the
North Atlantic Treaty's (NATO) projects for ballistic missiles in
Europe. He said that the logic invoked by the United States to
establish a missile shield- to face the challenge of Iranian missiles-
does not stand any more. He said that such a pretext lost its logic
after the agreement with Iran. This is how Iran has become the gateway
to address the dispute between the U.S. and the Russian Federation on
the ballistic missile projects in Eastern Europe.
the rise and influence of Iran in the relationship with the West in
general and in the context of the American - Russian relationship, the
traditional balance of power underwent a shock; the traditional Middle
East allies of the US were shaken. The qualitative leap in the
relationship between the U.S. and Iran, after a long official
interruption for more than thirty years, caused tremors
that followed the astounding shock. Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acted in hysteria- seen by some as
artificial and others as justified. Netanyahu has described the
nuclear agreement with Iran as not one of a historic achievement but
rather a «historic mistake».
Arabia's public response welcomed the nuclear deal with caution. The
Gulf Cooperation Council issued a statement expressing «satisfaction»
with the agreement and called on Iran to cooperate with the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And well done. Well
done also that the GCC wished success for the Geneva 2 conference on
Syria- to be held next January 22 to end the conflict
in Syria through a transitional body with full authority. This
reaction by the Gulf States was quiet rather than hysterical. It gave
the impression that the response by the Gulf States towards the new
American policies graduated into becoming reasonable rather than one
of arbitrary anger and withdrawal.
important in the in the GCC response is in its sending the message of
presence and participation to replace the abstinence message and
absenteeism that preceded it.
is not only a quantum leap in the relationship between the US and
Iran, but today there is a convergence between Iran and Turkey. Any
Arab absence or abstention hurts only the Arab interests.
in the Obama Administration are
keen to reassure Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that the
United States did not abandon them; that it is just a widening the
circle of its alliances in the Middle East. The
broad headlines of the public message is that Arab oil and Israel are
no longer the exclusive cornerstones of American alliances and
American interests in the Middle East.
its heart, the American message to all concerned is that America will
not be fighting on behalf of anyone. Everyone must find it's own war
with his own soldiers and his forces- not by U.S. forces. The
message is that the importation of security is no longer valid and
that the time has come for local readiness rather than importing a
ready-made security. And this could be indeed useful. It could be
useful in pushing Arab countries to mature its graduating from
dependence on the United States.
terms of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel, the American
message is that the organic relationship remains if it comes to
Israel's security, but the relationship of
Terrible -the «spoiled child»- should end. This is qualitatively
President Obama is betting on is the silent support of the American
public opinion of his messages to Gulf capitals as to Israel, He is
the "no war" president because the American wishes are such.
He ventured on an engagement with Iran well aware that the American
people do not want war with anyone, on behalf of anyone.
American people do not care about what is happening in the Middle East
particularly that the US is ready for oil independence. Americans do
not care who pays the cost of the fight against terrorism and
extremism as long as it is far from American lands and not paid by
Syrian war is of no interest to the American public, even if Hezbollah
is a direct party in the conflict in Syria on behalf of Iran in
support of the regime and the survival of President Bashar al-Assad in
Syrian war will drag on to accompany the negotiating «process»
that's supposed to begin at the Geneva 2 Conference and which
may be a gateway to talk about Iran's regional role and Tehran's
ambitions in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But some are betting on
Geneva 2 by actually betting on aborting it's success -rather than the
opposite- as is becoming more apparent.
wants to de-legitimize the Syrian opposition by holding it responsible
for the failure of Geneva 2. Moscow had recovered for the Damascus
regime a good measure of legitimacy through reaching the agreement to
destroy Syria's chemical weapons arsenal. Now it wants to delegitimize
United States wants to simply continue with a political
"process" having completely abolished the military option. Geneva
2 will provide the "process" needed.
is not interested in Geneva 2. Iranians want to avoid talking about
their role in Syria and Iran's support for Hezbollah. They would
rather preoccupy the West exclusively with the nuclear negotiations to
overlook what Iran is actually doing in Syria.
is talk regarding Hezbolla's future in that Grand Bargain- when it
matures in later stages. Iran will not give up Hezbollah, nor will it
abandon Bashar al-Assad. What it might want - later, after the
military balance turns fully in favor of Syria's regime - is to
convince the American president to recognize Hezbollah as a regional
power and a political player rather than keep it classified in the
category of terrorism. This
is how Iranian policy is planned for the long term- with patient, and
perseverance that leads to winning.
is exactly what happened with the nuclear deal with the major world
powers and their submission to the legitimacy of the regime in Tehran
thirty years later.
dealing with this penetration and breakthrough requires somber
reflection on the options available with realism and rationality. The
Middle East region has entered the sphere of the grand settlement.
This requires an Arab vision unlike whatever preceded
it; it requires tools other than the ones used in the past and cost
Arab interests dearly.