The joy of watching a (much belated) turn in US policy in the region away from constant conflict with “Resistance Axis”
An article in Lebanon’s As-Safir, translated today by Mideastwire.com, hits on some of the main dynamics in regional thinking, one that now seems – like it or not – anchored on an impending US-Iran agreement.
For those of us who have been arguing for such a course for many years, it is – to use a hackneyed phrase – bittersweet in terms of all the lost time and ruined/destroyed lives spent in a conflict (and its subsidiary conflicts) that could and should have been mitigated or ended far earlier – not least after 17 Saudi hijackers attacked our country on 9/11, after Iranian-US cooperation in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the Cedar revolution in Lebanon etc etc.
For those of us on this side, there is a collective breath holding – will reactionary forces succeeded in doing something in these intervening weeks to destroy the chances of an agreement? The bitterness here in Beirut among traditional US allies (despite whatever harm they may have actually done on occasion to US interests and other interests) is worrying – although some key players have resigned themselves to the Obama administration’s “New Direction.”
We will see.I fear that this turn does not have enough political capital and too many enemies to be realized.
On February 21, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following report by Elie Ferezli: “On Sunday, the American and Iranian foreign ministers will be meeting again. Yesterday, the preparatory meetings started on the level of the assistants to the foreign ministers between Iran and the six major countries. All external signs coming from Tehran and Washington speak of an imminent agreement. The Israeli effervescence also speaks of the same thing. The most indicative sign came from President Barack Obama who considered that the technical part of the agreement has been completed and only the political part remains…
“Iran’s visitors believe that Tehran will not be focusing on lifting the sanctions all at once or gradually. For Iran, the most important part is to reach a complete agreement and to leave no clause un-tackled. This condition is embarrassing Obama, who is in turn eager for reaching an agreement. There’s one major obstacle consisting of the Congress’ rejection to lift the sanction… Could the Congress slam the agreement? This is the most important question on which lies the fate of the talks. The American Administration has started to look for ways to prevent [the Congress’s] effect on its plans to open up to Tehran…
“The interesting part consists of the fact that, even prior to completing the agreement, its effects have started to emerge on several regional arenas knowing that the two sides keep stressing that the agreement will be confined to the Iranian program. One of the most prominent arenas was Yemen. As the Houthis expanded from the north to Sanaa, the American condemnation was less than weak. This was interpreted as providing a cover for this expansion and thus, for the Iranian role in Yemen. In the same context comes the American obvious dismay concerning the Israeli raid on Golan… As the Americans are now convinced that Iran is an unbreakable part of the war against the ISIL terrorism, it seems that Iran is working on imposing new equations (through the south and Aleppo battles) in Syria preceding the final agreement next June.
“All this implies that the agreement is now stronger than the wind facing it. Those who are working on hindering this agreement know that the American interests will not be minding anyone’s feelings. But there are some questions that must be answered: Will America accept Iran as a partner in the region? And how will the Gulf States and Israel accept the new situation? And is Iran ready to the USA’s partner…? Could Iran be possibly providing American with guarantees concerning the “disciplining” of Hezbollah’s military and political role…?
“The Stratfor Institute, which is known for its closeness to the CIA, quoted some sources as saying that an official agreement between the USA and Iran is now imminent adding that “the agreement will include, in an unofficial manner, the acceptance of Iran as a foreign force in control over Lebanon.” What does that mean and how will it be translated? Parties close to Tehran believe that, regardless of the institute’s information, the effects that have started to appear on the entire region cannot possibly leave Lebanon out…
“The first outcomes of the new phase will consist of approving Michel Aoun’s access to power” according to a wide sector of March 8 in addition to Al-Rabyeh of course. More importantly, some believe that there will be a Saudi cover for such a step first because it would have received the American blessing, second because the “ladder” of authority in Al-Riyadh is still being consolidated, third because Saudi Arabia won’t come out as a loser as long as the wide jurisdictions of the [Lebanese] prime minister will remain untouched, and fourth because the negotiations that the Future is conducting with Hezbollah and the re-launching of the communication with Aoun imply that Al-Riyadh has started to pave the way for the pre-nuclear agreement phase.”