War with Iran remains the last resort
I am an ardent advocate of pressuring the Iranian regime to change its policies; or, in the case of that failing, I strongly support forcibly changing its policies, but not at any cost. Needless to say that changing the Iranian regime through peaceful means would be better and more effective for all of us.
The ideal result we hope to reach, whether by carrot or stick, is that Iran stops its military projects in terms of strengthening its military and nuclear capabilities, and permanently refrains from spreading chaos and wars in the region. However, we know that Tehran would not do that on its own, and there is no way but to force it to do so. The best way to do it is by imposing strong economic sanctions on it.
However, a military confrontation, should only be used in the case of self-defense — that is why we hear all the politicians repeating and emphasizing that they do not want war.
So the question remains, why not choose war if it is the quickest solution to force the Iranian regime to comply, rather than waiting two years or five years to see if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s government surrenders? Simply because the results of war are not guaranteed. We are dealing with a regime that does not care if 1 million or 2 million of its people die; a regime that didn’t build anything anyway so would not fear losses; a regime that thinks it can, through war, arouse a sense of patriotism in the minds of 90 million Iranians; a regime betting on more chaos in Iraq and the Gulf.
There are a lot of other factors that make war a last resort, for no sane man is in favor of war. However, we will hear a lot of passionate voices that underestimate the risks, overstate the gains, or simplify a complex situation, all wanting a quick solution to a chronic 40-year-old problem called the Iranian regime.
We are dealing with a regime that does not care if 1 million or 2 million of its people die.
Those who want the US and the West in general to fight their war overlook the fact that these countries have their own agendas and that these major powers are not for rent, as many insist on interpreting the European, Russian and American policies as being motivated by business. They fail to see their strategic interests as well.
Should the economic embargo on the Iranian regime continue as we see it today, Khamenei will eventually be forced to bow and comply with the peace terms. The economic sanctions and embargoes are the most impactful and harmful weapons that can be used against the Iranian regime. They are less risky for the Gulf and the US, despite the provocations of the Iranians, whether attacking oil tankers with mines or bombing using drones.
Once Tehran decides to face the siege by fighting, the Gulf countries and their allies will be forced to defend themselves and their interests, whatever the consequences might be. This is what the Gulf countries want: To go to war with Iran only in the case of self-defense, and to be the aggrieved not the aggressor. In the event of war, Iran will be defeated. It is the weaker part in the power equation. War remains the last weapon in the current confrontation. We should avoid human and material losses on both sides, and give peace a chance.
- 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. Twitter: @aalrashed