Tags: Hezbollah | Iran | ISIS | Middle East

Bad Deal With Iran Spurs Arab Action

By Tuesday, 31 March 2015 08:44 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The debate on Iran’s nuclear program and the harsh tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over a nuclear deal have had some immediate interesting consequences.

Differences between the two leaders were focused mainly on the nature of a bad deal. Netanyahu indeed objected Iran maintaining a certain amount of centrifuges and enriched uranium. According to this argument, such a deal would extend, in the best-case scenario, the time that Iran can develop a nuclear weapon from a few months to a year.

The Israelis argue the administration's plan does not eliminate Iran’s capability to acquire nuclear weapons but temporarily restricts that capability. Not to mention the great concern Israelis have expressed over the possibility of removing nuclear inspections 10 years after the agreement is signed.

However, a key Israeli argument is that negotiations between the world powers and Iran are taking place as if they were negotiations over a regular dispute between two equal partners. Iran’s behavior and hostile activities have not been properly taken into account in these negotiations.

Iran has most recently supported insurgencies in both Bahrain and Yemen. In Yemen, the pro-Iranian Houthis just overthrew the American-backed government in Yemen where the U.S. was working with on terrorism related issues.

In Syria, Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, continue to support the Bashar al-Assad regime with Hezbollah fighting together with Assad’s forces. So far 200,000 people have been killed in Syria with millions dispersed in refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey. Iran also continues to expand its influence in Latin America where it has reportedly purchased uranium from Venezuela and Bolivia, and it has helped train local revolutionary forces.

Its proxy Hezbollah cooperates with drug cartels. Likewise, tunnels built across the Mexican-American border are akin to those built by Hezbollah along the Israeli/Lebanese border. (This article sheds light on the situation.) In the Middle East, Hezbollah found a perfect excuse to be involved in supporting Assad by invoking the need to defeat the bloody Islamic State.

Hezbollah rightly thought that this card could play well in the West, which is trying to avoid direct intervention with ISIS. The Obama administration has seen Iran as key to defeating ISIS. In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of young Shiites are fighting as part of Iranian-backed militias, a move likely to aggravate the sectarian strife in the country.

These militias outnumber the Iraqi security forces, and in addition, members of the Iranian revolutionary guards, the pro-Iranian Badr organization, and the pro-Iran Katain Hezbollah are heavily involved, mostly operating outside of Iraqi government control.

The collapse of the traditional Arab states has brought chaos in the Middle East whose main beneficiaries have been ISIS and Iran. Iran looks to increase its influence in all these countries in order to consolidate its hegemony in the region, a hegemony whose screws would be tight by the eventual building of a nuclear weapon.

The U.S., willingly or unwillingly, enabled such expansion because it set as a priority to sign a nuclear deal with Iran and to defeat ISIS, considered to be an atrocious organization and an offshoot of al-Qaida. The American vision was narrowed to these parameters only.

However, the debate around the nuclear issue with the prime minister and the mounting criticism of President Obama coming from key Arab countries played a crucial role in bringing about a shift.

Saudi Arabia took the matter into its hands and began airstrikes in Yemen. In an Arab summit that took place on March 29, Saudi Arabia received full support from Arab countries to continue its airstrikes until Iranian backed rebel forces in Yemen "withdraw and surrender their weapons.”

Furthermore, the Arabs decided to create a joint military force with the express purpose of removing Iran’s influence. Another resolution pointed out that such force would come to the aid of any Arab nation facing a national security threat, including the need to combat terrorist groups.

In other words, the Arabs seem to have taken the matters into their hands, as they fear Iran and ISIS may emerge as the main beneficiaries of a new Middle East. Furthermore, the open Arab support for Netanyahu’s position on the nuclear issue has no precedent in history of Arab/Israeli relations.

This “Arab awakening” has been the result of the U.S. using kid gloves handling of Iran’s nuclear program.

The Arab reaction is a positive development. The U.S. so far has supported the Saudis’ strikes in Yemen but it needs to support the Arab world in its new determination to defeat terrorism and neutralize Iran’s hegemony in the region. Part of this strategy should also be to avoid a bad deal with Iran.

Luis Fleischman has worked as adviser for the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy on issues related to Latin America, hemispheric security, democracy, and U.S policy in Latin America. He is the author of "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Threat to U.S. Security." Fleischman is an adjunct professor of sociology and political science at Florida Atlantic University Honors College and FAU Lifelong Learning Society. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.


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The U.S. so far has supported the Saudis’ strikes in Yemen but it needs to support the Arab world in its new determination to defeat terrorism and neutralize Iran’s hegemony in the region.
Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, Middle East
Tuesday, 31 March 2015 08:44 AM
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