Saturday, February 15, 2014

Iran's old friends... are they expired?.

Dr. Leila Nicolas
The river of optimism which flowed all over the international sphere regarding reaching a nuclear agreement between Iran and the sextet, and the efforts of Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and the Iranian foreign minister Muhammad Javad Zarif to cut with former president Ahmadinejad radical policies have become of a great concern to some of Iranian allies and proxies who wanted the Iranian Republic to continue its high- pitched speeches towards Israel and the west.
The reasons behind these concerns are many; some refer to the analogy -made by many western analysts- between Rouhani and the former Soviet president Gorbachev, who initiated the perestroika in the Soviet Union, and which was one of the factors that led to the collapse of Union. Some others refer these concerns to Zarif's speeches about condemning holocaust, and his call for "all foreign forces to withdraw from Syria", which some pointed out that it means Hezbollah fighters too.
Many others may refer to the Iranian policies towards the so called "Arab Spring", where the Iranians praised the domination of Muslim Brotherhood- who tried to settle a theocratic dictatorship in the Arab states that witnessed revolutionary changes- calling it the "Islamic awakening". This weird Iranian policy can be analyzed in two different scenarios:

A - that the Iranians had felt that the deal between Western powers and Muslim brotherhood , aimed at containing Iran as a rising regional power, and establishing a regional balance and deterrence between the large Shiite state and another regional Sunni empire, So they preferred to face it by containment rather than confrontation; trying to diminish the tense of sectarian Sunni - Shiite divide, and welcoming the extensive role of Muslim Brotherhood. So far it was good for the Iranians, but once the developments in the region reached the limit of threatening Iranian national security; trying to bring down Syrian regime, the Iranians gave unlimited support to the Syrian regime and decided to topple the MB rebels in Syria militarily.

B -The second explanation may be that the Iranians were part of the deal between the west and Muslim Brotherhood which aimed to control the entire MENA region, reduce the Saudi Wahhabi influence, opens the door for close cooperation and power sharing between Iran and MB. The Iranians, who had good ties with MB figures and organizations, such as Hamas and An-nahda, in addition to good relations with Turkey and Qatar, sought that may take advantage of a new coalition in the region that may exclude the radical Wahhabi influence and replace it with more pragmatic Sunni one. Iranian- Saudi tensions are at their peak, since the American occupation of Iraq, and the oust of Taliban in Afghanistan that lead to maximizing Iranian influence in the region.
What reinforces this explanation, is the Iranian backup to the ousted Egyptian president Mohammad Morsi, even after he was removed by a popular revolution in June 2013.This was so clear after the Iranian statements interfering in Egypt's internal affairs, expressing that Iran " was worried by the recent escalation in violence between Egypt's army and protesters supporting former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi".

 No observer can assert the validity of any of the aforementioned scenarios, and can know exactly the real Iranian intentions, or whether they are ready for serious concessions, one of them is getting rid of old proxies like Hamas for example.
Certainly, old Iranian proxies have a legitimate right to get worried, for any group who accepted to be a key card in the hands of great powers, will reach its expiry date one day.

In my opinion, the fears that Rouhani would be another Gorbachev are not realistic. The Islamic Republic of Iran is guided by the Supreme Leader Khamenei, that controls the whole system, adjusts firmly all the internal rivals, and decides the Strategic policies. So, anyone who dreams that Rouhani would one day revolt and lead major changes in the republic, had never understood the structure of the Iranian regime.

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