War on Iran would have disastrous consequences that would destabilize everything
Whenever the Obama administration moves towards some sort of compromise with Iran, the Netanyahu administration steps in to increase the pressure on the negotiating team.
NEWS.AZ: How would you estimate Iranian foreign policy aimed on reducing international pressure on Iran?
ARSHIN A-M: Since the revolution of 1979, Iranian foreign policy accentuates the norm of independence. It is geared to the idea that Iran has the material and ideational capability to position itself as a major power in the international system.
Yet the country has had serious difficulty implementing this strategic preference primarily due to the opposition of the United States.
At the current juncture Iran’s diplomatic maneuverability has been constrained by domestic politics – the weak power position of the outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose suppression of the post-election demonstrations in 2009 seriously weakened Iran’s national security, and the unprecedented sanctions regime spearheaded by the United States.
At the same time, Iran has very close strategic relations with China and Russia, who have been increasingly bold in the United Nations Security Council and who are not interested in any escalation with Iran, not at least because of their own economic interests in the country. Europe and the United States have effectively disqualified themselves from the Iranian economy and for every western company that renegades due to the irrational sanctions regime, there is a Chinese company taking its place. Iran plays with this emerging multi-polar system. To that end, the country has also extended its foreign policy orbit toward emerging powers in the international system, primarily India, Venezuela, Brazil and South Africa.
How serious is the Iranian nuclear problem at the moment?
In essence there is no nuclear problem in Iran. There is a functioning, IAEA supervised security regime which has given the organization unprecedented access to the country’s nuclear sites. I have written and talked about this issue extensively. Iran is very willing to compromise on the enrichment issue if the sanctions would be gradually lifted. At the heart of the nuclear issue is the power politics of the Netanyahu administration in Israel which is continuously pushing for confrontation with Iran.
This helps the Netanyahu administration to divert attention away from domestic dissent – many Israelis in the anti-war movements are interested in normalization with the country’s neighbors – and the continued colonization of Palestinian territory. Whenever the Obama administration moves towards some sort of compromise with Iran, the Netanyahu administration steps in to increase the pressure on the negotiating team. President Obama is not a war president, Netanyahu is. As such, I called the Iranian nuclear “problem” a mirage; a convenient tool to constrain Iran’s regional power.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei summoned top Iranian military chiefs for what he called “their last war council.” “We’ll be at war within weeks,” he told the gathering. Is the war so real indeed?
I haven’t heard about this meeting beyond news sources that are close to Israeli politics. At this critical moment and on a hotly contested subject such as Iran, one has to be particularly careful with media representations about the country. This is the argument of my book Iran in World Politics which discusses the way some sections of the international media misrepresent what is happening in Iran. This is an immensely complex country after all, ancient, combative, post-revolutionary, and culturally diverse; as I mentioned to a colleague from the United States at a recent conference: Iran, Persia has been around for a while and the idea of the country can’t be reduced to a few platitudes.
I mean at the height of the post-election demonstrations in 2009, an editorial in the British Daily Telegraph seriously argued that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei smokes “bejeweled pipes” and wears coats “said to be woven from hair of specially bred camels”. This is the level of journalism that one encounters at times and it has been seriously detrimental to a better understanding of Iranian politics, economics, culture and society.
Are you sure that such Muslim countries in the Iranian neighborhood as Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq and others will support military invasion of Iran?
I think many commentators and even some intellectuals seriously underestimate the people-to-people bonds that permeate central/western Asia. These are based not only on Muslim affiliations but additional layers of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and family ties. Unless there is not an understanding that the security of Azerbaijan is linked to the security of Iran, and that the security of all regional countries is entirely interdependent, exactly because of geographical proximity and those common layers that I just mentioned, until this is realized there won’t be a functioning security architecture that could sustain lasting peace in the area.
I don’t think that any of the states in the region, even Saudi Arabia which has played a particularly divisive role in the Persian Gulf, has an interest in a military confrontation between Iran and the United States. Certainly, Iraq after Saddam Hussein is emerging as a potentially close ally of Iran, and Turkey too has repeatedly tried to resolve the nuclear issue and has opted out of the Western sanctions regime at least partially. Iran is a transnational culture as much as a nation-state; as such the country permeates the whole region. This is why a war on Iran would have disastrous consequences that would destabilize everything.
Azerbaijan as a neighbor of Iran is concerned about rumors of possible war in the region. What could be consequences of the war for the whole region?
War on Iran would unleash a protracted series of crises situations that would affect the security of all states in the region, the world economy and the West. To my mind it would have the potential of leading to a global conflict that would be Armageddon.
Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, a world renowned expert on Iranian affairs and the author of Iran in World Politics: The question of the Islamic Republic. His newest book is A Metahistory of the Clash of Civilisations: Us and them beyond Orientalism (Columbia/Hurst, 2011).
OUR OBSESSESION WITH IRAN
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Posted by Arshin Adib-Moghaddam on Aug 8 2012, With 0 Reads, Filed under Americas, Asia, China, Editors' Picks, Europe, Global, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Syria, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.