June 16, 2014

KNOWING YOUR ALLIES:

Pivot to Persia : Washington may not want to admit it, but Iran is the most stable country in the Middle East right now. (TRITA PARSI JUNE 16, 2014, Foreign Policy)

News emerged on Monday that Washington and Tehran may cooperate militarily to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) from advancing deeper into Iraq -- Iran's neighbor, where the United States has spent years, trillions of dollars, and thousands of lives. Iraq's Shiite government has been seen by some as a proxy of Iran that has often sided with Tehran against Washington. But the common interest between Iran and the United States is not merely tactical or temporary: With the region roiling as it is, the reality that Iran and the United States might end up on the same side is simply the new normal. [...]

For decades, Iran has tried to challenge U.S. hegemony in the Middle East by investing in Arab political opposition groups and backing Islamist movements like Hezbollah and Hamas with funding and support. But in the Sunni Arab world, this has yielded next to nothing for Tehran. Iran's policy toward the Arab world since the 1979 revolution has been based on an accurate prediction that the reigns of the pro-American autocrats would not be durable and that Tehran's long-term security was best assured by investing in Islamist movements that likely would take over. Iran's brand of political Islam and anti-Israeli rhetoric, reasoned Tehran, could be a unifying force, bridging the deep animus that characterized the Arab-Persian and the Sunni-Shiite divides. Or so it thought.

Instead, the Islamists who gained influence following the Arab Spring -- in Syria, Egypt, and Libya -- have largely shown allegiance to their financial benefactors in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms rather than to their supposed ideological allies in Tehran. Meanwhile, Iran's support for the Assad regime in Syria has dissipated the extensive soft power Tehran used to enjoy in the Arab world.

The government in Tehran may find a better partner in the current administration in Washington than it might expect. Whatever America's distaste for Iran's brand of repressive Shiite nationalism, President Barack Obama knows clearly that the real threat to the United States is not the brand of Islam emanating from its nominal enemy Iran, but the one sponsored, funded, and embraced by its formal ally Saudi Arabia -- particularly if the United States and Iran manage to resolve the nuclear issue in the next few weeks or months.
Posted by at June 16, 2014 8:09 PM
  
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