By Shabeer Ahmad Parey
A four month old baby Fatima of Iran, who was scheduled to go through heart surgery in the United States, had to postpone her visit when her mother found it difficult to get the visa to the country after Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration banning Iran and other six major Muslim countries. While the order has been justified by White House in terms defending American people from terrorists but critiques from world over especially the Muslim world are growing into a chorus.
On the one hand, the ban is held to be in consonance with President Trump’s promised to those who elected him but on the other hand critics look it as part of the long standing anti- Muslim policy that became part and parcel of American foreign policy after 9/11. Some people argue that terrorism is now officially associated with Muslims.
Here my concern is not analysis of Trump’s executive order in its totality but only to focus on why Iran found a mention in this list. This is being seriously debated in and outside America -especially in west Asia. The critical aspect of debate and discussions are the sanctions which were imposed soon after Iran conducted its ballistic missile tests. All this shows that Trump is departing away from the lines of the Obama administration.
Trump administration has made it clear that there are a ‘range of options’ available which could be used against Iran. The administration on Friday imposed sanctions on Iran, which it said were just “initial steps” and added that Washington would no longer turn a ‘blind eye’ to Iran’s hostile actions.
This was validated the Trump administration’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn who said that, ‘The Trump Administration will no longer tolerate Iran’s provocations that threaten our interests,”. The Trump administration is also critical of the Obama administration which failed to respond adequately to Iran’s so called malign actions, including weapons transfer, support for terrorism and other violations of international norms. The White House also faulted Iran for backing Houthi rebels, the enemies of Saudi Arabia’s interests in the region, who claimed a successful missile strike against a warship belonging to a Saudi-led coalition fighting to reinstall Yemen’s internationally recognized government.
Putting Iran in the cross hairs, merely on the pretext, that, in the future it may be threat to the United States doesn’t make things clear about Trump’s . We need to look deep into the factors that direct the United State’s West Asian policy and which may get a new boost under Trump.
Neo conservatives, an important group directing the United States foreign policy especially in west Asia, continue to have a constituency in the country. They stand by and uphold Israeli interests in the region. Israel’s main foe in the region is Iran and it is threatened by any small or big measure taken by Iran which Israel feels may diminish her influence in the region. It was Israel, more than anyone else, which forced the United States to compel Iran to stop its nuclear program.
Another important reason behind Donald Trump’s harsh stand against Iran is linked to Iran’s uncompromising stand on supporting and helping Basharal Assad’s regime in Syria and a growing alliance between Iran and Russia that is detrimental to United State’s interests in the region. Here, it is neo cons again, who at the behest of Israel are directing United States’ Syrian policy. Neocons cluster through various organizations and think tanks- the prime among them is Project for new American Century (PNAC) and Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). The the biggest critic of United States Syrian policy are realists who believe that America’s involvement is actually alienating populations in West Asia from USA but l they also acknowledge that the biggest beneficiaries of Assad’s fall would be Israel.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, on its part, props up the Assad regime while supporting parliamentary forces that are loyal to Damascus. This is a strategy and a bid to lay a foundation for a long term interests if Assad is ousted. Syria provides Iran access to the Mediterranean sea and growth to proxies that are loyal to its government. This is why Saudi Arabia is spending millions of dollars to aid and train a Syrian rebel group Jaish Al Islam to overthrow Assad’s regime and act as a counter weight to jihadist groups operating within Syria.
In the final analysis, Saudi Iran rivalry plays an important part in formulation and execution of the United States West Asian policies. Riyadh is seriously considering her interests in the region owing to what King Abdullah ll of Jordan calls “the rising crescent of Shias” in the region. The new pillars of the Shia crescent are referred to as empowered majority in Iraq, the rise of of Iran as a regional leader and empowerment of Shias across Lebnon , Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, UAE, Pakistan.
Sunni Arab states have their own reasons for fearing Iran: reduction of their own power, concern about the growing demands of the shia population of their countries and the expanding role of Iran in Arab affairs. But Iran’s main aim is not to strengthen and expand its Shia ideology but to advance its core strategic interests: curbing United States’ hegemony, counterbalancing and deterring other regional powers, fighting Israel and exerting control over regional oil resources. That is the reason that Saudi Arabia is fighting a proxy war with Iran in the regional states of west Asia such as Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, and Syria.
The coalition led by Saudi Arabia under the name of “operation decisive storm” bombing Yemen has been receiving intelligence and logistical support from United States Central Command, that is responsible for all the security of west Asia region from a United States perspective.
This regional rivalry is ultimately directed by the United States for its own interests in the region. These interests are served by Saudis to a great extent.
Where would all this lead to?And what implications would be on US Iran relations? Will Iran be forced to bow completely before America? Or would it result in direct military action on Iran? Or would it lead to regime change in Iran about which serious apprehensions are being raised? Whatever will happen remains unknown at this stage but one thing is clear that this time around a different approach an policy will be adopted in dealing with Iran. To conclude, Fatim, the little baby who was initially denied a visa was ultimately given waver on humanitarian grounds for her heart surgery in the United States.
The author, presently teaching at Government. High school Madwan, Hajin, can be reached at: [email protected]