Kerry in Persian Gulf to Curry Favor with Sheikhs

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mohammad Mehdi Mazaheri
Faculty Member, University of Tehran

The visit by a US secretary of state to the Middle East may not seem to be anything new at the first glance, nor conveying any special message. The foreign minister of a superpower is just paying a visit to his country’s regional allies to renew past pledges. However, during his latest tour of the region, John Kerry, went to such great length to curry favor with some of the regional leaders that it raised a major question in the minds of impartial observers. The fact that his visit was aimed at appeasing regional states, which as a result of the agreement reached over Iran's nuclear program, are concerned about closeness in Iran's relations with the United States and subsequent loss of importance in their relations with Washington, was no news and there was nothing surprising about it. However, the fact that despite the lack of interest in Arab countries of the Middle East, which has been evident in the United States approach during past few years, Washington would try so seriously to get their attention to the extent that it would belittle itself to the level of a member state of the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council and threaten Iran, seemed somehow strange.

The United States’ Democrat administration has reached the conclusion during past years that it is no more possible for it to have the Middle East in the palm of its hand in the face of all these sectarian strife and strategic rivalries, and in order to have a stable Middle East, there is no choice, but to recognize Iran's unique share and role in the region. After more than one decade of failure in putting this region in order, the United States has inevitably accepted that the pillars of Iran's power in the region are so natural and numerous that ignoring this country’s role in security equations of the region would be like burying one’s head in snow in order to ignore the realities. However, positions taken by Americans following the implementation of Iran's nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), especially during Kerry’s recent regional tour, were a clear diversion from the course of interaction with Iran in a bid to improve regional situation.

It, therefore, seems that democrats have clearly seen and analyzed the situation in the region, but what is lacking in their foreign policy is audacity. This audacity is, of course, totally different from what is envisioned by the US Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and his supporters. The audacity shown by such Republicans as Trump is more like foolhardiness shown to continue the role of the exhausted, but triumphant cowboy in a world that even heroes in Western movies are no more popular. What the Obama administration and Democrats need to create a stable Middle East is the courage to accept the realities on the ground and make their regional allies accept them.

However, the current approach adopted by the United States is a passive foreign policy, which seeks to offer unrestrained sympathy and support to countries whose maximum role in the region is to play with their petrodollars; petrodollars, which are sometimes spent on buying weapons and are at other times used to bolster and support extremist and radical groups! In the meantime, the situation is even more ludicrous for the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms, which assume that they can buy themselves security through such methods.

A cursory review of historical experiences and the current situation in the Middle East will show that distrust and the hostile approach adopted by regional powers in interaction with each other in addition to overreliance on transregional powers has, in a best case scenario, had no fruit but the situation of armed peace and constant fear of regional countries from one another. What the Middle East needs now and more than any time before is cooperation between all “real” regional powers and transregional powers in order to forge security arrangements that would be desirable to “regional nations.”

If the United States is willing to play a positive role in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf regions, it must mix its foreign policy with some degree of audacity, give up double-standard and contradictory approaches, and just in the same way that through nuclear negotiations found Iran to be a pacifist country that seeks negotiations and is trustworthy, does not try to take positions against the realities on the ground during the post-JCPOA period in order to curry favor with the Persian Gulf sheikdoms. Avoiding excessive submissiveness before Arab states in the Persian Gulf and regulating the United States foreign policy on the basis of regional realities will not only help establish peace and stability in the Middle East, but also thwart Republicans’ criticism about weakness and cowardly nature of the foreign policy adopted by liberal politicians, while strengthening their position in the forthcoming presidential elections.

Key WordsJohn Kerry, Persian Gulf, US, Cowardly Superpower, Middle East, Iran's Nuclear Program, (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Democrats, Passive Foreign Policy, Republicans, Mazaheri

Source: Iranian Diplomacy (IRD)
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

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*Photo Credit: CBS News

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