[Marxism] The US has a new friend in the region: Iran

Michael Karadjis mkaradjis at gmail.com
Thu Nov 13 07:11:22 MST 2014


US ready to renew diplomatic links with Iran after 35 years
President Obama sent a secret letter to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asking 
for Iran's support in the fight against Isis

Hugh Tomlinson
Published at 12:01AM, November 10 2014
Iran has held secret talks with American officials to discuss opening a 
US trade office in Tehran if a deal is reached over its nuclear 
ambitions and sanctions are lifted.
It would mean the countries renewing diplomatic ties for the first time 
since the hostage crisis that followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
full: 
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article4262662.ece


The US has a new friend in the region: Iran

A calculated strategic swap of allegiances as Iran replaces Saudi Arabia 
as the United States' favoured regional ally?
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/11/us-new-friend-region-iran-20141191344125636.html
Last updated: 11 Nov 2014 11:13

Crispian Cuss is a former British Army officer who has worked and lived 
in the Middle East. He currently acts as a defence and security 
consultant.

  Last week, a US drone strike in the Yemeni province of Baydah 
reportedly killed up to 20 al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) 
fighters. Among the dead was Shawki Ali Ahmed al Badani, wanted for his 
role in a plot that led to the closure of US embassies across the region 
in 2013. While the target was AQAP's leadership, it will have been 
welcomed by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who took Yemen's capital 
Sanaa in September and have since been in open warfare with AQAP.
In Syria, US air strikes directed against the Islamic State of Iraq and 
the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra Front benefit Iran's ally President 
Bashar al-Assad and their proxy force Hezbollah. Across the border in 
Iraq, Iranian-backed militias contribute towards President Barack 
Obama's plan to "degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group 
known as ISIL". While there is no military coordination between the two 
parties on the ground, it was only recently that Iran's Quds force was 
assisting Iraqi insurgents kill US soldiers.
Although there is nothing more to this than a mutual interest in the 
destruction of religious extremists, the fact is there are key strategic 
forces, including demographics and energy supplies, that are pulling the 
US and Iran closer together. While this may seem farfetched given the 
current state of affairs between the countries, Obama's supposed 
correspondence to Ayatollah Khamenei may presage the start of an 
irrevocable, if tortuous process, that ultimately delivers a calculated 
strategic swap of allegiances as Iran replaces Saudi Arabia as the 
United States' favoured regional ally.
Shelf life
While the US relationship with Saudi Arabia is, of course, strong and of 
global significance - as the current downward pressures on oil prices 
show - it does have a shelf life. The current ruler, King Abdullah, is 
aged 90, and has already outlived two of his chosen successors. The 
current crown prince, Prince Salman, is 78.

Netanyahu says Iran greater threat than ISIL
Furthermore, this relationship is primarily based on oil much of which 
sits in the Shia-dominated Eastern Province. Culturally or 
ideologically, there is little else that binds the US to the kingdom.
The same can be said of Bahrain where a Sunni elite rules over a 
disenchanted Shia majority and significant hydrocarbon wealth. The 
precarious nature of this government was revealed in 2011, when during 
the Arab Spring, it requested GCC assistance to contain the uprising.
The fact that Bahrain is also home to the US 5th Fleet is another reason 
for Americans to be flexible in their alignment with long-term regional 
power shifts.
The final piece of this natural resources jigsaw is Iraq where the US 
invasion finally settled the result of the Iran-Iraq war with the 
installation of an Iranian influenced administration in Baghdad 
governing over the country's vast natural resources much of which lies 
in the Shia-dominated south.
While there are large differences between the political aspirations of 
these various countries, when coupled with Iran's own formidable 
reserves of oil and gas - fourth and second largest in the world 
respectively - much of the region's natural resources can be seen to be 
physically located under Shia dominated areas.
The level of change required for Iran to supplant Saudi Arabia as 
America's pre-eminent regional ally is so great that it is by no means 
inevitable. Yet such are the strategic forces that draw them together 
neither is it implausible.
Despite areas of clear economic mutual interest between the US and Iran 
real rapprochement remains some way off. For many Americans, Iran's 
funding of Hezbollah justifies its place within the Axis of Evil. For 
politicians to be in favour of closer dialogue can be contentious, as 
was demonstrated in the recent midterm election campaigns.
Useful scapegoat
Similarly, in Iran the US is still often referred to as the Great Satan, 
particularly among its voluble clerics whose message is not one of 
reconciliation even if their influence is being blunted by increased 
secularism. The US also remains a useful scapegoat to blame for the 
country's woes many of which result from corruption and incompetence 
rather than from economic sanctions.
Added to this antagonism is also the issue of Iran's nuclear ambitions 
and its relationship with Israel. Yet distant as it might seem, these 
interdependent issues are reconcilable even if the process is long and 
tortuous. Time and the cycle of governments and leaders can bring change 
and allow old ruptures to fade relatively unobtrusively into the past 
particularly when the pressure of national interest is applied.
The level of change required for Iran to supplant Saudi Arabia as the 
US' pre-eminent regional ally is so great that it is by no means 
inevitable. Yet such are the strategic forces that draw them together 
that neither is it implausible.
In 2002, George W Bush said: "There is a long history of friendship 
between the American people and the people of Iran. As Iran's people 
move towards a future defined by greater freedom, greater tolerance, 
they will have no better friend than the United States of America."
Against a backdrop of rising religious extremism, waning Iranian 
revolutionary fervour and the imperative of energy security, he might 
one day be proved right.
Crispian Cuss is a former British Army officer who has worked and lived 
in the Middle East.  He currently acts as a defence and security 
consultant 




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