Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement

A lot of ink is being spilled analyzing the pros and cons of the recently concluded US-Iran nuclear deal between Iran and the 5+ 1 countries (4 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany), and there is ample show of emotions about this deal involving different actors. The Arab states are upset because they concluded that its successful implementation would lead to an era of US-Iran rapprochement in which Iran, more than the Arab states, would be the focus of America’s attention. The Israelis are mad because they see the emergence of a nuclear Iran in the distant future as a result of it. More to the point, Israel’s Prime Minister , Benyamin Netanyahu, envisions that deal as the first historical step toward bringing about an end to Israel’s own preeminence, related to its nuclear deterrence in the region. A study prepared for the RAND Corporation addresses precisely that point when it notes, “Nuclear weapons would probably reinforce Iran’s traditional national security objectives, including deterring a U.S. or Israeli military attack.” The American side—mainly the Obama officials and pro-nuclear-deal Democrats in the US Congress—is hoping that it has succeeded, at least in postponing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons aspirations into the distant future. The American neocons and the Republican legislators, on the contrary, think that Iran has fleeced the Obama administration into lifting the economic sanctions without giving up anything of substance. Continue reading “Burying the Hatchet is the Precondition for US-Iran Rapprochement”

If the United States Eradicates ISIS, the Real Winner Will Be Iran

As much as the Islamic Republic of Iran has been demonized in the American media, it has managed to emerge as the chief benefactor of America’s 2001 war against the Taliban regime of Afghanistan as well as its 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein’s rule.  In each instance, Iran’s own activities were aimed at ensuring that the United States’ presence in Afghanistan and Iraq would not irreparably damage its strategic interests.  In both instances, Iran took ample measures to sabotage American military objectives, while ensuring that its actions did not trigger a retaliatory response from the US military.  As the Obama administration starts its campaign, first to degrade and then to destroy ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Iran should not be surprised if it were to once again emerge as a victor if America succeeds in obtaining that objective. Continue reading “If the United States Eradicates ISIS, the Real Winner Will Be Iran”

Heading Toward Failure: A Coalition of the “Reluctantly Willing”

As the Obama administration is busy forming a coalition to fight-eradicate the Islamic State (IS) or (ISIS/ISIL), the evolving coalition that gathered last week in Paris was a far cry from the one put together by George H. W. Bush in 1991 to fight and expel Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait.  Today’s participants of the coalition of the “reluctantly willing” are probably thinking, but not voicing, that defeating the IS will be a difficult, if not impossible, challenge for a variety of reasons.

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The US-Iran Interim Nuclear Agreement: Auspicious But Potentially Fragile

The US-Iran nuclear deal of November 23, 2013, putting a temporary freeze on Iran’s nuclear program, is likely to turn out to be the beginning of an historic development.  The most celebrated aspect of this agreement is that the top diplomats on both sides are now engaging in a highly intricate dialogue, instead talking at each other through the media. Continue reading “The US-Iran Interim Nuclear Agreement: Auspicious But Potentially Fragile”

The Synonymity Between Dispensability and Decline

In his second inaugural address in January 1997, President Bill Clinton stated, “America stands alone as the world’s indispensable nation.”[1]  Since then, that phrase has been used on a regular basis.  America, as an indispensable nation, underscores its dominance in resolving conflicts of all portions since the end of World War II.    It has been a major enabler of global economic stability and prosperity of Western Europe and Japan, and, most important of all, it contained the former Soviet Union–playing a crucial role in bringing about its eventual implosion.  Continue reading “The Synonymity Between Dispensability and Decline”

Viewing the Arab Awakening From the Saudi Perspectives

The Arab awakening’s aspirations to bring about radical changes in the existing regimes is like a long nightmare for the Saudi monarchy.  The Saudi worldview is very much at home with the notion of autocratic rule, which allows little room for protests, political reforms, women’s rights, or any other conception that challenges what now prevails inside the Kingdom.  The commitment to the Salafi tradition also remains predominant in this perspective, which does not allow much room for deviation from the Salafi tradition or liberal interpretation of Islam. Continue reading “Viewing the Arab Awakening From the Saudi Perspectives”

The New Arab Cold War: Monarchies Versus the Arab Awakening

The old Arab Cold War was fought in the 1960s between the republican states who wanted to transform the Arab world through the use of pan-Arabism and the monarchies, which were opposed to that phenomenon. The latter envisioned the former as the “enemies,” since the pan-Arabists were focused on overthrowing the monarchies. The leader of the republican camp was Egypt under Gamal Abdel Nasser. The leader of the monarchical camp was Saudi Arabia. The two camps fought a civil war in Yemen in the early 1960s. The bloody political change of Iraq in 1958, which permanently transformed Iraq from a monarchy into a republic, proved that the fear of the Arab monarchies regarding the republican states was not unfounded. Now, a new Arab Cold War is being fought once again under the Saudi leadership for the preservation of the monarchies. The “enemy” this time is the Arab Awakening, which threatens to sweep aside all autocratic regimes. Two Arab dictators – Zein el-Abideen Bin Ali and Hosni Mubarak – have been ousted by this social force, and Muammar Qaddafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Bishara Assad are awaiting their turn.

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The Arab Awakening: An Antidote Against the Relevance of Al-Qaida

 When al-Qaida was ranting against the corrupt and inept Arab and Muslim dictators as “slaves” of America, it had captured the sympathy of quite a few people in the Arab world, who agreed with that organization’s criticism of their rulers, but not with its brutal ways.  The Arab awakening is bringing about the kind of change that al-Qaida dreamed about, but with at least one major difference.  The falling dictators are likely to be replaced by democratic and transparent governments, which will also learn to govern well. It is aiming to create pluralistic governments in such countries as Egypt and Bahrain, where more than one religion and Islamic sect prevail.  It also aims to make discrimination against women a thing of the past.  If hopes related to these aspirations are dashed, then al-Qaida will have another opportunity to be back with a vengeance.  At least for now, it is watching history fly right by it.  That is just one of the most significant reasons to celebrate the Arab awakening. Continue reading “The Arab Awakening: An Antidote Against the Relevance of Al-Qaida”

Saudi Military Intervention in Bahrain is Nothing but an Invasion

If the toppling of Zein el-abideen Bin Ali of Tunisia and Husni Mubarak of Egypt were the peak achievements of the Arab awakening, the Saudi invasion of Bahrain – albeit they claim that they were “invited” by the Bahraini ruler, and that “invitation” was “legitimized” by the Gulf Cooperation Council – must be one of the last gasps of air for the autocrats.  The United States, despite its claims as a supporter of democracy, watched that invasion and said nothing to condemn it.  What do the Bahraini masses want?  Why aren’t they getting it?  And since when can a regime “invite” foreign forces to quell the peaceful protest of all of its citizens?  More to the point, why should such an event be quelled by foreign forces?  No one in the Arab side of the Persian Gulf is willing to answer these awkward questions.  And everyone in Washington is too embarrassed to answer them. Continue reading “Saudi Military Intervention in Bahrain is Nothing but an Invasion”

The Fading Pharaoh of Egypt and the New Mega Power

Sweep most old phrases of the post-World War II era, and discard the concepts “superpowers,” middle powers, and small powers, in terms of their significant roles in bringing about changes of regional or global significance. The not-so-new era called the “age of information revolution” has begun to show its real power. The new mega power of our era is the Internet. Tweeting is the new social movement of the 21st Century; and mobile messaging is the new revolutionary way of carrying the messages of change, especially in places where regimes envision information control as a chief tool of survival. The autocrats of the Middle East know that their days are numbered. And Al Jazeera is the new medium of challenging the status quo inside the Arab world, as WikiLeaks is the medium of change in the world at large, while the old news channels of the West – the BBC, the CNN, etc. – are struggling to maintain their erstwhile high visibility. Their long-standing image of being the representatives of Western dominance of the globe is also affecting their credibility, as the scrappy reporters of Al Jazeera are reporting from the burning fields of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and whichever country engulfed in the fire of major political change in the Middle East. Continue reading “The Fading Pharaoh of Egypt and the New Mega Power”