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From Arab Spring to Incriminating Iran

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mohammad Khajouei
Master’s Degree in Middle East Studies

New charges leveled by the United States against the Islamic Republic of Iran are currently at the center of debates among scholars and analysts who are painstakingly going through them.

The main question of this article is what relationship can possibly exist between those charges and recent regional developments which are collectively known as the Arab Spring?

Undoubtedly, the US charges against Iran and escalation of pressures on the country have their roots in regional developments. Recognition of those root causes, therefore, will help better understanding of the whole scenario.

Before bringing up the new charges Americans had certainly weighed the situation in the region and started their new project with due attention to components of the existing complicated situation in the region and new political arrangements.

Popular uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, which started in Tunisia and, before long, swept through the whole region, have not only demolished age-old political structures of some Arab countries, but have also changed power blocs in the region.

As popular protests spread through the region, the alliance known as the “Arab moderation” front which constituted a bloc of conservative Arab states pivoted around Saudi Arabia and Egypt and was the most influential regional power bloc, was threatened with total annihilation.

After Egypt distanced from that alliance and protests increased in other Arab members, the alliance has lost much of its regional influence.

After the alliance experienced the first shockwave, Saudi Arabia, as the standard-bearer of conservative Arab states, has tried to resuscitate it out of its current condition of isolation. Saudis were not optimistic about the Americans and censured them for having left the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, on its own. They argued that by doing so, the United States had turned the table against conservative regimes which had basked in the unbridled support of Washington for many long years.

Complexity and multifaceted nature of popular uprisings in the region and the quality of the new regional order arising from them was so astounding as to make all regional and transregional powers attempt to influence its course and align it with their own interests as much as possible.

This issue has caused great concern in Saudi Arabia as the main guardian of traditional regional order, on the one hand, and the United States as the most active transregional power in the Middle East, on the other hand. They have thus decided to prevent developments from taking an uncontrolled course which would threaten their best interests in the region.

As time went by, the United States like most other countries was flummoxed more and more by the wave of change-seeking in the region. Washington then reached the conclusion that in addition to taking sides with certain regional uprisings it should also try to keep some traditional structures in place in a bid to forge a balance among all political fronts in the region and better protect its regional interests. As a result, the US new policy is aimed at creating a new regional balance between the traditional conservative front and a new front with Egypt and Turkey as the main axes.

Meanwhile, the United States and Saudi Arabia are also trying to settle scores with another front whose interests is essentially at odds with their regional interests and approaches. That front is known as resistance front and is led by Iran and Syria with power bases in Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.

Banking on the existing volatile conditions in the region, the United States is trying to achieve its long-awaited goal of settling the old score with the resistance front in the region once and for good.

The ongoing unrest in Syria, which is a pillar of the resistance front, has further emboldened the United States to pursue that goal more assiduously. Meanwhile, Washington is trying to further isolate the pioneer of the resistance in the region, that is, Iran, by imposing more pressures on the country.

Those pressures are exerted in three fronts: the nuclear case, Iran’s human rights case, and the recent alleged assassination plot targeting the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir. The main goal is to prevent Iran from finding any way out of its predicament.

By adopting this policy, the United States is trying on one side to do in the resistance front for good and, on the other side, to assign a more active role in regional developments to Saudi Arabia and Israel which have been increasingly isolated in the past few months. As such, Washington is trying to create a new balance between these countries and Arab uprisings in other regional states; a balance which will better serve long-term interests of the United States in the region.

Perhaps it is still too early to talk about the fate and consequences of mounting pressures on Iran. The existing evidence, however, proves that such pressures are sure to further increase in the near future as new political groupings in the region become more pronounced.

Although the United States has persistently pursued to establish its desirable regional order in the Middle East, however, experience has proven that the state of affairs has not always been to its benefit. Therefore, Americans have not always been able to achieve their desired results and sometimes, even the opposite of what they yearned for has taken place.

The Middle East is verily a land of quicksand which rapidly changes shape with every strong wind. As a result, a hill may turn into a vale and vice versa in no time.

More By Mohammad Khajouei:

*Iran & Bahrain: Necessity of Mutual Understanding of Interests: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran_Bahrain_Necessity_of_Mutual_Understanding_of_Interests.htm

*Iran & Turkey: Rival or Complementary?: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Iran_Turkey_Rival_or_Complementary_.htm

*From Arab Spring to Fall of Ankara-Tel Aviv Ties: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/From_Arab_Spring_to_Fall_of_Ankara_Tel_Aviv_Ties.htm

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