Global security threatened by world powers’ failures on Iran

Global security threatened by world powers’ failures on Iran

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Smoke billows after a drone attack on an Aramco intallation in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, September 14, 2019. (Reuters)

Last Tuesday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) discussed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 powers. It was reiterated that the Iranian regime is continuing with its hostility, which is endangering regional security and stability. Despite these concerns and Iran’s routine breaches of the JCPOA, the UNSC is still clinging to the nuclear deal. The most important current issue in relation to the JCPOA is a draft resolution introduced by the US to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

This draft resolution is opposed by Russia and China. For these two nations to oppose this resolution is deeply disappointing for the region. Both powers have put their narrow political and economic interests ahead of UN principles and values, which they are expected to uphold as members of the UNSC. This issue has become a source of conflict and rivalry among UNSC members, with Russia and China seeking political and economic gains instead of protecting global peace and security.

The Iranian regime’s profound and dangerous behavior has repeatedly been proven via indisputable evidence, with its belligerent military operations targeting Saudi civilians and airports, among other targets across the region. Vital economic zones in eastern Saudi Arabia were targeted by missiles and drones manufactured in Iran in September last year, as officially acknowledged by the UN last month.

The P5+1 committed a massive, crucial and strategic mistake by signing the JCPOA, which was confined solely to Iran’s nuclear program, paying no heed to the grave and far greater imminent danger to the region; namely Iran’s hostile behavior and its support and financing of militias from Lebanon in the north to Yemen in the south. This is in addition to the danger posed by the regime’s ballistic missile program. This does not mean that the nuclear program is not dangerous — it is an additional danger, but only in the medium to long term, while these other dangers are already present.

The dangers posed by the Iranian regime’s hostility and its missile program are imminent and experienced daily. The international community’s great strategic mistake of addressing the aforementioned issues separately — as though they were not interconnected — has made Iran more dangerous, more hostile and more supportive of terrorism, sectarianism and militias since 2015. The facts on the ground completely contradict the objectives announced by the P5+1 at the time, which were to rationalize and moderate the Iranian regime’s behavior and make it wiser and more temperate.

The P5+1 made another strategic mistake by not allowing the regional countries that bear the brunt of Iran’s aggression to participate in concluding the nuclear deal. Today, as Iran’s belligerency, arrogance and recalcitrance toward all international treaties and rules are increasingly apparent to the world, the reduced P4+1 group — with the US having pulled out of the nuclear deal — is making the same mistake again.

Through such willful blindness, the P4+1 states are showing absolute indifference and ignoring the evidence and facts on the ground. They are now giving Iran’s regime a green light to engage in further chaotic and destabilizing behavior regionally and globally. The biggest danger in this is that, when the arms embargo expires in October, Iran will seize the opportunity to provide all its terrorist militias in the region and beyond with domestically manufactured weapons under the guise of using its sovereign right to sell weapons to whomever it wants and in whatever quantities it deems appropriate.

Such a catastrophic transfer of weapons would be carried out under the guise of a legal sale of arms. Meanwhile, the weapons that Russia, China and others sell to Iran will not remain within Iran’s borders, but will be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi militia in Yemen. Therefore, if the international community chooses to remain heedless of this fact, which we see clearly unfolding before our eyes even before it transpires, it will throw the region and the entire world into further and greater conflict, escalate a global arms race and threaten security and peace worldwide.

Any future escalation in the region will impact the entire world, whether directly or indirectly, at the security, economic and geopolitical levels. Many Western countries have now reached the same conclusion as the people of the region, who have for decades experienced  the criminal behavior of the Iranian regime. The people of the region are now warning and calling on these Western nations to listen to them, as they have first-hand knowledge of the Iranian regime’s behavior and know the gravity of the imminent danger if Iran is given carte blanche to manufacture and buy weapons.

The P4+1 states are showing absolute indifference and ignoring the evidence and facts on the ground.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

Bearing all this in mind and in the hope of averting this catastrophe, the mistakes of the past should be urgently rectified via two main steps. First, the arms embargo against Iran must be extended. And, second, the fears and concerns of regional countries must be taken into account. If these steps are not taken, Iran will increase its hostility and Arab countries will have no choice but to continue in their efforts to confront the danger Tehran poses to regional and global security. We may hope that Iran’s regime will change its longstanding behavior and turn into a normal state but, going by experience, it is unlikely to do so.

If the major global powers continue to bicker among themselves and put self-interested political agendas ahead of global security and stability, Iran is unlikely to alter its behavior in the region. In the end, history will judge everybody fairly, and the world will not forgive those countries that pursued their political and economic interests at the expense of global peace; with their illusory political and diplomatic triumphs leading to a global disaster.

  • Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami
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