Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine Crises: Returning to Iran's Option

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Behzad Khoshandam
Ph.D. in International Relations & Expert on International Issues

The emergence of ISIS, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist and extremist groups, and breakout of other proxy wars in the Middle East region all stem from a strategic mistake and miscalculation by Iranophobic regional and transregional actors. The course of theoretical and operational developments of strategic crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine, whose consequences have been plaguing other countries in the Middle East and European Union, indicate that the rising trend of extremism will have major consequences for the Middle East region.

Iraq and Syria are among Iran's spheres of influence in terms of historical, civilizational and civil society developments. The main result of the current strategic and tactical action and dynamism by Russia and the United States in the management of crises in Syria and Iraq, has been ethnic, racial and religious fragmentation as well as emergence of cultural and identity-related gaps in these countries, and has promoted role and status of Iran in resolving these crises. As put by Henry Kissinger in his book, World Order: in comparison with other countries in the Middle East, Iran is perhaps having the most coherent concept of nationality and in terms of country management, it has a profound tradition…. However, Iranian leaders have reached the Westphalian concept of country management away from the borders of Western and modern countries.

A few thousand years before the Peace of Westphalia, Iranians had formed their governments along borders much beyond the current borders of Iran as evidenced by the establishment of Median and Achaemenid governments, which were the first examples of state building by Persians more than two thousand years ago. From at least two thousand years ago up to the ongoing crises, such geographical expanses as the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Mesopotamia, Levant, the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Adriatic Sea have been among the spheres of influence and rivalry for Iran and its neighboring countries.

Remarkable Western-Arab, Arab-Russian, Arab-Turkish, Arab-Israeli, Western-European, and Arab-Arab fronts are acting on the opposite of the Iran-based resistant front with regard to the four aforesaid crises. Therefore, under the present circumstances, Iran is the gravity center and the missing link for the resolution of tensions in the aforesaid crises. The remarks made by the UN Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura and [French President] Francois Hollande in his annual foreign policy speech to French ambassadors on the key role that Iran plays in future outlook of the resolution of the five-year crisis in Syria are indicative of Iran's profound strategic influence in future scenes for the resolution of three aforementioned crises.

Following the Iran deal, Iran has been at the center of political and diplomatic trends and solutions for three strategic crises in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. An impartial review of Iran's role in global developments during the past century, including during Iraq’s war against Iran (1980-88), the coalition war on Iraq in the 1990s, the war in Afghanistan (2001), the war in Iraq (2003), and the Arab Spring will show that Iran has continuously issued warnings about spread of extremism, violation of human rights, the issue of refugees, as well as permanent insecurity and terrorism. Iran's emphasis on the above issues is result of more accurate understanding and strategic influence of Iran in civilizational spheres around it and a result of continued, incessant and impartial role that Iran plays in these fields. As Marc Lynch has admitted in his analysis of the outlook of Middle East developments, the problem of “interventions” is among the most important challenges that this region will have to tackle.

In the middle of 2015 and in the light of strategic crises in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, Iran, as a regional power, has enjoyed a central position in big powers’ relations and also within security and political subsets of the region due to underlying reasons, various dimensions and consequences of these regional crises. Under these conditions, Iran is natural ally of the West for the establishment of peace and stability, and is an island of strategic, security, political and energy stability in the region. Iran's historical and civilizational backdrop in comparison with governments that have been made up by the colonialistic powers in the region, is one of the main reasons for the existence of stability and peace within Iran's borders.

The experience and working model of the West and East coalition, which is based on supporting the governance model of countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and tiny Persian Gulf states, shows that supporting such models does not have maximum desirability for [the establishment of] regional and global security, and Iran's model, which is based on a essential and correct reading of non-militant and moderate Islam should draw more serious attention as natural ally of the West and East for the purpose of partial restoration of security to this region. Therefore, the model of returning to Iran's governance model for the achievement of an comprehensive, overarching, and non-military solution [to regional crises] and restoration of balance of power to the Middle East is key to finding a final solution to regional crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine.

The outlook of developments, challenges, structures and actors in the Middle East will remain one of the most important items on Iran's national security agendas. Following adoption and implementation of the Iran deal, the country will turn into a crossroads for the resolution of regional crises. A large part of the solution to strategic crises in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine and key to their resolution is in the influential hands of intra-regional actors, including Iran. The option of returning to Iran and taking advantage of Iran's mediatory and constructive capacities for the resolution of crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Palestine with due attention to new realities in the region and global concerns about these crises as well as growing, legitimate and globally-accepted weight and position of Iran in post-Iran deal conditions constitutes a basic option in this regard. Regional realities and strategic requirements will increasingly introduce this option as an economical and low-cost option.

Key Words: Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Palestine, Iran's Option, ISIS, Al-Nusra Front, Terrorist and Extremist Groups, Proxy Wars, Middle East Region, Strategic Mistake, Iranophobia, Transregional Actors, Strategic Influence, Khoshandam

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*Photo Credit: Irish Times