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He never took them on publicly. But he has emerged this year as a historic figure, perhaps the harbinger of a new political calculus within Iran—a significant step toward normalization, both within the country and in its dealings with the rest of the world. The U. A mortal enemy was needed to maintain the pretense that Iran was under siege, about to be overtaken by the same clandestine Western forces that overthrew the elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in But the threat came to seem threadbare over time, as satellite dishes sprouted on the rooftops of Tehran and throughout the countryside.

Rouhani was allowed to proceed with the talks because he was considered reliable. His negotiating team, led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, had to thread a needle—come up with an agreement that both the U. In return, the sanctions would be lifted and Iran would slowly begin to breathe again—but only after all those and other conditions had been met, which they are likely to be in early The Iranian Revolutionary Guard will likely fiercely argue that Iran should not simply walk away from a strategic geographic position that requires so little expenditure.


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Iranian elements would be positioned along the relatively porous eleven-hundred-mile border with Yemen and within only a few hundred miles of Mecca itself. Similarly, Houthis leadership will likely make a strong case as to why they deserve continued Iranian support. Located along the southern Red Sea corridor and Bab al-Mandeb strait, Iran would be able to threaten to block the five million barrels of oil that pass each day through the twelve-mile-wide strait.

A continued Iranian role in Yemen would not be expensive for Tehran. Even if negotiations were to succeed, Yemen will require years of international support to feed its population, to restore state institutions and local security forces, maintain and improve its infrastructure, to knit together the disparate militias and North—South groups that make up its current political architecture, and to continue to confront Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Maritime interdiction cooperation between the Gulf Cooperation Council members and western states has always been strong.

While it will continue, it remains unclear what more can be done to strengthen these efforts. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi should continue to support a border force in Yemen's northern Marib province to disrupt any future weapons shipments and smuggler operations that might choose to transit Oman.

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By contrast, saddled with the legacies of colonialism and neo-colonialism, and as foreigners in the region, the US must necessarily have a politically less intrusive approach, one predicated on what experience suggests is a misconceived hope that it is building a politically neutral military around which the Arab nation in question can gather. Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

Comment: The president's transactional approach to foreign interventions shows Trump's always about the bottom line, writes James Snell. Comment: The departure of the rogue general from the Libyan scene will likely create a dangerous power vacuum, but may pave the way to national reconciliation talks, writes Mat Nashed. We use our own cookies and third-party cookies to measure traffic to our website and analyse browsers' behaviour, with a view to improving the services we offer If you continue browsing, we consider that you accept the use of cookies.


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    Share this page: 0. Comment: In comparison to Iran's remarkably successful record of building militaries and their associated states, the US has little to show, writes Robert Springborg. For almost three decades Iran and the US have competed with one another to build militaries and states resting upon them in the Arab world, a competition which Iran has won hands down. Its initial success was with Hizballah in Lebanon, with which it first expelled the US, then Israel, from the country. Hizballah was then charged with the task of capturing the Lebanese state, which required it to penetrate and neutralise the military and security services while building the country's most powerful political party.

    Its defeat of combined but weak Druze, Sunni and Christian forces in May signaled the success of the first task, while election of its Christian ally Michel Aoun as president in October marked completion of the latter. It's not hard to understand Iran's success and America's failure in building militaries in the Arab world As was initially the case with Hizballah, Badr and its allied forces mask much of their power behind political surrogates and weak actors who can be cast aside when and if the need arises.

    The billions of dollars Washington committed to rebuilding the Iraqi military were graphically demonstrated to be for naught when it collapsed in the face of the IS challenge in Badr picked up the pieces, both politically and militarily, now having greater political influence over Haidar al Abadi's government than previously, while having integrated its various militias partially into the army, which picks up the pay cheques for its soldiers.

    Read Also. James Snell Trump's 'Arab Force' more closely resembles a farce Comment: The president's transactional approach to foreign interventions shows Trump's always about the bottom line, writes James Snell. Mat Nashed After Haftar, what next for Libya? The New Arab Comments. Most Popular.

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    Loading Next Article Read More. Sign up to get this in your inbox every week Submit. Tick here to also receive our weekly highlights newsletter! We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and other customized activities. See our Privacy policy. Want to keep up to date with the latest news from the Middle East? Subscribe to our newsletter today! Iraq Report. Motivated by the unexpected success, Iran turned from a defensive to offensive strategy and invaded Iraq in July during operation Ramadan.

    Holding the Line on Iran | The American Spectator

    The subsequent war of attrition polarized the Arab world while the global powers stepped up their efforts in supporting Saddam militarily. This put Iran and its ally Syria at the receiving end of the regional balance of power. However, Syria still relied on pre-war established regional relationships. This enabled Damascus to ease tension on Iran diplomatically,while simultaneously providing it with ways to trade indirectly with the rest of the Arab League.

    In return, by early , the Syrians established a military presence in the general headquarters of the Iranian Ministry of Defense, where they provided advice and intelligence on Iraqi military strategy, training and the use of Soviet weaponry. It also dispatched Syrian troops to the Syria-Jordan border,forcing Iraq to prepare a war on its Western front. The Israeli invasion of Lebanon in proved to be a second battleground which allowed Syria and Iran to consolidate their alliance.

    In addition, this was an opportunity for the two countries to coordinate their military efforts through mutual support for Lebanese Shia militias, most importantly Hezbollah, which introduced a new phase of the emerging partnership. Syria entered Lebanon in as part of an Arab peacekeeping force after the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war and was caught by surprise by the scale and scope of the Israeli attack. It was in need of support in order for its dominant position in Lebanon to prevail.

    In view of its long time presence in Lebanon, Damascus was able to use the Lebanese war-economy to their advantage through providing Iran with much-needed strategic economic depth in Lebanon. Lebanon provided further options for the Syria-Iran nexus to deepen their grip in the Levant and apply their forward defense strategy in the quest to expand their regional influence. For Iran, an active role in war-torn Lebanon seemed an opportunity to export its revolution and fight Israel and its Western allies.

    With Syrian and Iranian help, these groups waged an effective,unconventional battle against the Israeli Defense Forces IDF , ultimately forcing the Israeli troops to withdraw from Lebanon. In the aftermath of the cessation of hostilities in the first Gulf war,Saddam championed the war as a victory for Iraq. While Syria was regionally isolated,Iran turned inwards trying to recover from an eight year long war that exhausted its economy and society. The Damascus — Tehran axis was further institutionalized and consolidated by establishing the joint higher Syrian — Iranian Cooperation committee, chaired by their respective Vice presidents and Foreign ministers,aimed at boosting reciprocal economic and political cooperation[28].

    In addition, Syria and Iran embarked upon a joint program to acquire the capability to manufacture ballistic, cruise and surface-to-surface missiles. This led to the successful establishment of manufacturing facilities in Hama and Aleppo. The perceived intra Arab war changed the political configuration in the Middle East drastically.

    Over the course of the s the regional rivalry transformed in a competition led by pro-western Israel and Turkey on the one hand and Iran and Syria on the other. After the Gulf War in , Iraqi military capabilities were severely weakened and so was its capacity to harm Syria and Iran. On the other hand, the collapse of the Soviet Union and subsequent American unipolarity made room for changing regional affiliations which resulted in new power blocks.

    Over the course of the s this rivalry transformed in a competition led by pro-western Israel and Turkey on the one hand and Iran and Syria on the other.

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    These changing relations did not foster the Iranian-Syrian nexus but as long as Israel and the US were prominently present in the region, Syria and Iran were potential targets to be handled. Hence, the necessity for cooperation remained. This set into motion a series of events that affected the Middle East as a whole and Syria in particular. Bashar had to deal with challenges that were unprecedented in the Al Assad ruling history. In the context of a looming war in Iraq, Damascus was even suspicious of the Iranian interests in a potential, Post-Saddam Iraq.

    The Iranian response was to continue to develop ties with Syria while waiting out Syrian dominance within their partnership.