In the sphere of ever-changing international relations, there are neither permanent friends nor enemies; it is only the national interests of a country which determine the nature and direction of its relations with comity of nations. After the historic Iran P5+1 nuclear deal, America has a long list of political, economic, ideological and militaryobjectives to attain. In this US game, Iran and India are likely to play the central role. Historically speaking, the US made Iran, under Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, as the powerful regional police to safeguard the American interests in the Middle Eastand the Persian Gulf. In this context, Iran was assigned a specific duty in the US-led CENTO, and was provided with sophisticated US made arms and nuclear reactors to assert its dominance. However, the 1979’s Islamic Revolution in Iran and the subsequent Islamists’ siege of US embassy in Tehran turned both all weather friends as sworn foes.
Realistically speaking, the prime reasons for bilateral estrangement and antagonism coupled with crushing sanctions on Iran was partly owing to the Iranian ambition of building a nuclear bomb and partly due to Iran’s tilt towards Russia and China. It was closer Sino-Iranian and Russo-Iranian ties which made the US more apprehensive and worried. In thisbackdrop, the US had no choice but to conclude the long-lasting nuclear deal with Iran so as to once again bring Iran into its regional bandwagon, and make the latter as the regional police empowered to protect the US economic and militaryobjectives.
Obama administration has dismally failed to live up to its foreign policy objectives made during the 2012 election campaigns. Barack Obama promised to obstruct Iran’s nuclear programme, shut down the CIA torture cell at Guantanamo Bay, draw dawn combat troops from war-torn Afghanistan, instigate political change in Syria against Assad, bring stability in Iraq and Libya and eliminate rampaging militancy and terrorism. Now, to silence the scathing Republicans and clear the way for Hilary Clinton for the upcoming 58th US presidential elections scheduled for November 8, 2016, Obama concluded the deal with Iran.
No American political party can come in the saddle without all-out assistance given by the Jewish lobby, AIPAC. On the eve of elections, all presidential nominees, senators and members of the House of Representatives receive immense help from the AIPAC and, in turn, they pledge to safeguard Israel’s territorial integrity at any cost. Since 1962, American military aid to Israel has amounted to nearly $100 billion. For the past decades, the United States has been regularly transferring aid of about $3 billion annually for Israel defense purposes. Today, Israel is a de facto nuclear power possessing air, sea and land nuclear capability due to the US assistance.
Since major regional powers i.e. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are already US security partners, it was only Iran’s clandestine nuclear programme that posed the major threat to Israel’s security as observed during former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tenure from 2005 to 2013. If Iran had acquired nuclear warhead, Saudi Arabia and Egypt would have followed suit, thus nuclearising the already volatile region and finishing Israel’s exceptional military dominance. Therefore, the Iran nuclear deal is another milestone for the US in terms of maintaining Israel military superiority in the Middle East.
Historical competition of ideology between communism and capitalism for cultural dominance of the developing countries has revived again. Both Russian and China have left indelible impacts of communism and socialism on the Iranian society. It has greatly helped Russia and China to dominate the Persian economy, defence sector and increase their tentacles in the region. Such ideological dominance against capitalism is totally unacceptable and challengeable to the US. The nuclear accord has afforded America the chance to again “westernise and Americanise” the minds of Iranians through propaganda. It will help the US dominate the potential Iranian economy, thus outsmarting both Russia and China. Abortive US policies of regime changes have created the monster of Daesh and political instability in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Its regional ally, Saudi Arabia, has miserably failed to play any stabilising role in these countries. On the other side, Iran, with Russian and Hezbollah’s support, has successfully shored up the beleaguered Assad regime in Syria, the Shias in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen despite a host of crushing economic and military sanctions.
The US has realised that without Iranian assistance, it can not bring tranquility in the region. Arguably, in the post-deal period, Washington would rely on Iran to fix the unfolding political and security crises in the Middle East. After the removal of arm related sanctions on Iran, the US will also ramp up arms sales to the sanction-hit Iranian defence sector.
The US is rather apprehensive of the rapid Chinese economic and military rise in the region. CPEC, One Belt One Road Policy and pearl of string strategy of China have worried the US policy makers. If Chinese succeeds, it will outweigh the US economically and militarily in the world. On such Chinese regional rise, the US’s, India’s and Iranian interests largely converge with one another. Instability in Balochistan by targeting CPEC, imbalance in Pakistan’s civil-military relations and abetment of terrorism and militancy would be the sinister objectives of upcoming bloc. All other fair and foul means will be used to obstruct Chinese access to the Middle East and Africa via Gwadar port.
If Pakistan and China partner with Afghanistan and CARs through CPEC in the future, the US covert objective behind invading Afghanistan and Indo-Iranian efforts of making Chahabar port a success would become rather elusive and unachievable. The US wishes to contain China in South Asia, Central Asia and in the Middle East, while India and Iran want to dominate Afghan and Central Asian energy resources and landlocked economies. To achieve these grand objectives, the US has befriended Iran and provided India with unimpeded access to the international nuclear market so as to make all Chinese plans foiled.
In this anarchic world, such US policy change in the region would instigate a string of challenges to the Sino-Pak relations. In this context, it is imperative for both China and Pakistan to complete CPEC as soon as possible, and extend it to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Above all, all legitimate reservations of Balochistan should be resolved so that regional players would not fish in the troubled waters.
— The write is freelance columnist based in Karachi.