With the name of the Middle East, one directly lands on two thoughts: ubiquitous ‘Syrian Crisis’ and the nascent confrontation between regional players. Out of many influencers in the region, the focus of the write-up will remain on the United States and Iran in particular.
While unilaterally withdrawing from the P5+ brokered Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran, the US under looming shadows of ‘Trumpism’ has been trying to isolate Iran internationally for various reasons playing at the backstage of policymaking in Washington. Let’s track down some possible triggers behind America’s withdrawal of the 2015 deal, be it either due to the lobbying of Arab-Israeli interests at the nitty-gritty of the US; or the openly aired animosity between them and Iran. The US at first unlocked the doors of the 21st century’s giant ‘Globalization’, at the knock of Iran along with certain conditions of check and balance over its nuclear-pass expectations. By doing such, the US may have shelved in mind to ultimately hurt and hurl at Iran. Initially to pull off sanctions for time being and later coming again with heightened glare of sanctions and isolation.
In the beginning, when sanctions were called off Iranian public opinion was brought into a promised land of Globalization. With the prospects of not only connecting businesses and trade but also secure the possibility of convergence of lifestyle and ideas about – if not all – how to be moving on at par with other developed countries. It also introduced to the public what they had been missing on during all the time before. With such an extended and alluded welcome by globalization the objective could have been to offer a taste of it to the Iranian public. Whilst letting the regime make promises of more and better while under happiness of the situation e.g. Iran plane deals worth $38b from Airbus and Boeing to Iran Air which has been canceled later.
However, after such a sudden withdrawal from the JCPOA and reimposing of sanctions, the whole idea could have been to eventually frustrate the Iranian populace and upset them. Example of which could be seen during the recent months with many of the Iranians being left without proper medical assistance and food price hikes a few months after the US departure of the deal. Consequently, to ignite the suffering population to go against the ruling class with two possibilities both of which are in favor of the US: First, to indirectly achieve long cherished desire of regime change; second, to encourage dissents and increase their numbers, thereby using them for different purposes and in many ways to damage the country.
Globally, the aim of Washington’s hardcore stance against Iran was to isolate it in the international arena thereby bringing it to the terms of its choice. Thus, to achieve this end the US with its allies has adopted different ways and means. GCC-Qatar crisis, to some extent, goes to pressurize Qatar to cut off ties with Iran. Then the reimposition sanctions that brought fear among European countries carrying trade with Iran. Whereby putting many big companies and banks under retribution alert from the US. These institutions were ultimately forced to stop helping both EU and Iran to carry out financial transactions. Another recent step to withdraw from the Syrian Crisis might have an aim to flame a debacle and create a power vacuum that could be used either by the proxies or the allies of the US to destabilize Syria and Iran. All the above-mentioned scenarios lead to one end via different means and that is to isolate Iran internationally.
Iran has been in a standoff with the Western powers for four decades. Globalization resulting from the nuclear deal could have undermined the core support of the regime in the shape of shifting public opinion but it failed due to Washington’s non-compliance with the deal. The withdrawal decision was taken rather recklessly. It could have tried to negotiate first with its longtime European allies. As a result, they could have worked out a way; where both of the parties while staying in the JCPOA could have intensified the checks and balances over Iran’s nuclear ambitions in order to curb the US paranoia. Thereby it would have bought the US most valuable gift of ‘time’. With time there would have come ways and options to convince its allies against Iran or to cap trade deals to an extent where it would not have gone staunchly against or in favor of Iran.
United States relations with other regional powers like Russia does not require any explanation but its ties with Turkey could have helped it ostracize Iran. However, the US policymakers failed to this as well owing to Fethullah Gülen’s extradition and Turkey’s arrest of American pastor Andrew Brunson, alleged to be behind the FETO movement and the failed Coup of July 2016. Though things have changed since then, time is of essence and it has already worked its wonders by now. The Astana Trio – Russia, Turkey, and Iran have come up together to settle for peace; Adana agreement has addressed Turkey’s security concerns regarding its porous borders with Syria. The Middle East Conference in Poland faced a shameful drawback from the European allies where major players of the EU stayed aloof and did not participate fearing it would become an anti-Iran vehicle. EU also has developed a legal way to circumvent US sanctions against Iran. India has invested heavily in Iran’s Chabahar Port. Washington has lost leverage on Pakistan as well due to China, whereas China has got its own beef with it.
With all things considered, it would not be wrong to say that the US has drastically failed to achieve its policy ends on Iran. Conversely, Iran has extensively projected its diplomatic maturity while showcasing flexibility in its decision-making process. Rigid and reckless handling of Iran by the US has left it with nothing but to revisit and ponder over its mistakes in order to avoid any possible outcomes of its unscrupulous policies in the future.
Image: The White House [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Geopolitics.
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The author is a lecturer in the Department of International Relations at Shah Abdul Latif University, Pakistan. He is currently an M.phil scholar at National Defence University, Islamabad – Pakistan.