Riyadh and Washington ready to face down Iran
The arrival of Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Washington, preceded a week ago by the departure of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, increases Europe’s fear of Washington’s determination to impose sanctions on Iran, which could eventually lead to foiling the deal.
The resolution signed in 2015 by the Iranian regime and the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany) to endorse the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has caused the chaos we see today.
Iran agreed to freeze a portion of its nuclear enrichment activities in exchange for reduced economic sanctions. As a result, Iran’s military activity in the region increased. It has also worked on advancing its ballistic missile system, which is capable of carrying and launching a nuclear weapon.
Since that day, everyone has been noticing that the deal has caused more chaos and wars and increased the Iranian regime’s dominance inside and outside Iran; contrary to the West’s perception that Tehran would abandon its hostile policy and focus on development and peace.
The problem does not lie in the deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, but in the nature of the Iranian regime itself.
As Donald Trump took office and Prince Mohammed bin Salman came into the picture, and as they announce on Monday that they will unite against Iran, the deal loses its sanctity. Europe can bow to the supreme leader in Tehran and continue to work with him, but the US will have the last word.
The problem does not lie in the deal itself, but in the nature of the Iranian regime. The US is fighting in Iraq and Syria because of Iran’s incursion. Saudi Arabia is fighting in Yemen to defend itself and save Yemen from the Iran-backed coup. Europe, which does not want a confrontation with Iran no matter what the risks, finally discovered that Trump and his allies in the region are determined to foil the deal. Therefore, Europe is trying to please both parties by introducing a new project that restricts Iran’s advancement of its ballistic missiles and puts an end to its activities in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.
Europe’s new project, which was leaked to Reuters, vows to impose sanctions on a list of involved individuals, which seems meager, if not theatrical. All those involved in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, army, and intelligence do not live in the West; and thus won’t be affected by the sanctions.
The demands that have been consistently rejected by Europe include imposing further economic sanctions on the Iranian regime and Hezbollah and supporting the forces that fight them on the ground so that the cost of intervention and occupation becomes very high.
Without taking serious steps to contain the Iranian regime, it won’t back off.
Let’s recall the reason why that regime agreed to negotiate and reach an agreement in the first place. Economic sanctions have stifled it until it risked collapsing; so it was forced to request starting negotiations and proposed to stop its nuclear program, even though it used to say that discussing this program and negotiating over it constituted a violation of Iran’s sovereignty.
In the end, the Iranian regime agreed to sit and negotiate its nuclear program and signed the deal, but the Western negotiators have come up with an urgent project that was born deformed.
Trump and Prince Mohammed aim to reform the deal and not foil it if it ends the 40 years of chaos and funding armed groups in the region. This means the deal will not be limited to controlling the rate of nuclear enrichment, but will also stop Iran’s program that spreads violence and chaos, and hence end all wars in the region.
• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
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