As Iran and the United States inch closer to a nuclear agreement, the Arab states in the Persian Gulf are pressuring the United States to increase security assistance and commit to their political security. President Obama has invited the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to Washington for a security summit to assure them that a nuclear deal with Iran will not undermine their security. But for these Arab monarchies the enemy they should fear most isn’t Iran but their own people and popular rule. No matter how much military assistance they get from the United States, conventional military capabilities will not help them repress domestic discontent and dissatisfaction. As President Obama elaborated in his interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times: “The conversations I want to have with the Gulf countries is, first and foremost, how do they build more effective defense capabilities,” the president said. “I think when you look at what happens in Syria, for example, there’s been a great desire for the United States to get in there and do something. But the question is: Why is it that we can’t have Arabs fighting [against] the terrible human rights abuses that have been perpetrated, or fighting against what Assad has done? I also think that I can send a message to them about the U.S.’s commitments to work with them and ensure that they are not invaded from the outside, and that perhaps will ease some of their concerns and allow them to have a more fruitful conversation with the Iranians. What I can’t do, though, is commit to dealing with some of these internal issues that they have without them making some changes that are more responsive to their people.”……One way to think about it, Obama continued, “is [that] when it comes to external aggression, I think we’re going to be there for our [Arab] friends — and I want to see how we can formalize that a little bit more than we currently have, and also help build their capacity so that they feel more confident about their ability to protect themselves from external aggression.” But, he repeated, “The biggest threats that they face may not be coming from Iran invading. It’s going to be from dissatisfaction inside their own countries. Now disentangling that from real terrorist activity inside their country, how we sort that out, how we engage in the counterterrorism cooperation that’s been so important to our own security — without automatically legitimizing or validating whatever repressive tactics they may employ — I think that’s a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that we have to have.”
The latest U.S. intelligence report for Iraq points to an interesting geopolitical development between Iran and the United States in Iraq. According to reports, “the elite Iranian forces backing Shia militias have been ordered not to attack the Americans.” One official familiar with the situation in Iraq told reporters that “They [ Iranians ] are not going after Americans…They want the nuclear talks to succeed and an incident between our guys and their guys would not be good for those talks.” Iranian special forces were on the ground fighting ISIS before the United States and its allies launched their bombing campaign. Iran cannot afford to see Iraq fall to ISIS terrorists. Intervening in Iraq was not a choice, but a necessity for Iran.
As ISIS forces continue to undermine regional security and Iraq’s territorial integrity, only one country has the influence and capability to defeat ISIS. Roger Cohen of the New York Times puts this way: “ISIS is a barbarous, shared enemy whose rollback becomes immeasurably more challenging in the absence of American-Iranian understanding. Allies need not be friends, as the Soviet role in defeating Hitler demonstrated. President Obama’s war against ISIS makes war with Iran more unthinkable than ever. Absent a “comprehensive solution that would ensure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful,” in the words of last year’s accord, the drumbeat for such a war would almost certainly resume. From Jerusalem to Washington countless drummers are ready.”
Two officials served in different capacities during the American occupation of Iraq have provided a painful story of how American occupation and imprisonment policies radicalized a large number of people in Iraq. “Simply being a “suspicious looking” military-aged male in the vicinity of an attack was enough to land one behind bars. There were 26,000 detainees at the height of the war, and over 100,000 individuals passed through the gates of Camps Bucca, Cropper and Taji. Quite a few were dangerous insurgents; many others were innocent.”
Christopher de Bellaigue has an excellent article in the Guardian outlining how and why a nuclear deal with Iran will benefit the international community. He just returned from a trip to Iran, and like other recent travelers, noticed the changes that have taken place in Iran since Rouhani’s election, and the overall stability of the country in the sea of Middle East turmoil: “No one in their right mind would undertake a comparable journey nowadays inside the borders of any of Iran’s war-torn neighbours: Iraq, Afghanistan, or, a bit further afield, Syria. Iran is the exception along the Middle East’s strategic, resource-rich central belt, a functioning nation state where the central authorities enjoy a monopoly of force, the infrastructure works and the people are overwhelmingly literate and unarmed. Perhaps most significant of all, as capo di tutti capi of the Shia world – wielding clout over its co-religionists in Iraq and Lebanon as well as propping up Bashar al-Assad with military assistance and subsidized oil – Iran could have a vital role in restoring stability throughout Mesopotamia and the Levant.”
A primetime speech by President Obama about U.S. intention to fight against ISIS “appears to have had the opposite effect in the Middle East.” According to Al-Monitor, “countries and factions that on paper share the same goal of eradicating the extremist threat responded far differently to President Barack Obama’s strategy, highlighting the difficulty in creating a united front. Frontline states Iran and Syria lambasted the administration for leaving them out of the equation, while pro-Western rebels urged the United States to ramp up its fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria and Kurdish groups demanded a far greater US and Western commitment.”
“Iranians are as obsessed as Americans these days with the black-clad gangs roaming Iraq and Syria and killing Shiites and other “infidels” in the name of Sunni Islam. At the supermarket, in a shared taxi or at a family gathering, conversations often turn to the mysterious group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and how it came to be.” See the FULL ARTICLE HERE
According to a report in the New York Times, Saudi Arabia “has agreed to an American request to provide a base to train moderate Syrian opposition fighters, American officials said on Wednesday.” It seems that Saudi Arabia is hedging its bets by trying to keep some contacts with the extremist Sunni groups while at the same trying to placate American concerns about ISIS.
As if the problems of ISIS in Iraq was not enough for Iran on its western border, as well as the potential implosion of Afghanistan on Iran’s eastern border, another major country is facing serious internal problems: Pakistan. Protestors are demanding the resignation of of its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and the military in Pakistan is watching the turmoil carefully.
This makes Iran the most stable country in a region experiencing major instability from Syria to Pakistan.