US-Iranian conflict is no cat-and-mouse game
The simplicity of the comparison made by the supreme leader in Tehran this week reflects his vision of the conflict in the region. In his response to US sanctions, Ali Khamenei said US-Iranian relations were like the iconic cartoon show “Tom and Jerry.”
Tom, the big, stupid cat who wastes his time chasing the crafty mouse, Jerry, and fails to catch him every time, is the US — an interesting depiction.
In practice, this is what has been happening between the US and Iran for 40 years, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreement was nothing but one of Iran’s tricks to escape the sanctions imposed by Washington in the early years of Barack Obama’s presidency. By signing the agreement, the Iranian mouse escaped the trap again.
Today, Khamenei believes the destruction taking place is merely a game and Iran’s role is to trick everyone and escape. Iran will survive Donald Trump’s hunt, just as it has survived each time in the past, even though the US president has drawn up a good plan to trap that mouse.
Indeed, this cat-and-mouse game has been going on throughout Khamenei’s regime, which has managed to successfully escape being held accountable for the harm it has caused its people and the region, as well as the terrible damage it has brought on us all.
Iran has not only tricked the US, but also Arabs and Muslims, whom it has deceived for four decades.
The question now is: Will the Iranian regime be able to get away with its tricks this time too?
The US-Iranian conflict is a complex scenario, and not really a simple cat-and-mouse game as depicted by Khamenei.
In its battles, Iran invokes religion, culture and history, and exploits the region’s conflicts. It convinces the Iraqis that they are being targeted as a Shiite sect, the Sunnis that they are targeted as Muslims in a godless Christian world, the Arabs that Israel is posing a great danger to them, and the East that it is robbed by the West.
Iran hires organizations like Hamas, allies with enemies like Al-Qaeda, and creates organizations that work for it, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. It employs opposition groups in neighboring countries, makes common cause with the Russians, and blackmails great powers, including China and Europe, by threatening that it has influence over terrorist groups in these countries.
Thus, Iran is not exactly a small mouse, but rather a large regional state that has employed all its capacities for evil purposes while refraining from doing anything positive and fruitful. It has not allowed its people or the region’s peoples to work on achieving their dreams in peace. But I believe Iran has exhausted all its tricks, and is left with no choice but to face the final decision. It has tricked many for a long time and its latest victim was Barack Obama. Iran tricked him into believing that it had learned its lesson, and made him the promises he wished to hear until it got more than what it needed from him; and in the end deceived him.
Throughout the years of Iran’s confrontations, I have not been able to understand the Iranian regime like I do today, thanks to what I am seeing and hearing.
Iran has not only tricked the US, but also the Arabs and Muslims, whom it has deceived for four decades. They sided with Iran when it won them over by pledging to defend their causes against the West and Israel.
The majority can now see the real Iran — the evil demon — in every cause and every region.
It is true that Iran has fooled most people most of the time, but I hope the time of its deceit is over. The speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week exposed the Iranian regime, and the 12 conditions he announced for lifting sanctions are difficult: If the Iranian regime abides by them, it will no longer be the regime we know. And if it does not, it will fall apart.
• 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.