Iran's mullahs and the American elections

A Trump win would spell disaster for the Iranian mullahs. They are lobbying to negatively influence his chances of a second term. Op-ed.

Salem AlKetbi ,

ג'ו ביידן ודונלד טראמפ
ג'ו ביידן ודונלד טראמפ
צילום: רויטרס

For some time now, the mullahs of Iran have been tirelessly speaking out against instrumentalizing their country in the upcoming US presidential elections. But at the same time, they have been loudly proclaiming that the Trump administration’s sanctions strategy went belly-up. The strategy earned the US unprecedented international isolation, they argue, above all in the UN Security Council.

Normally, if you want to avoid being involved in the US presidential election battle, you need to steer clear of this heated battle. But the mullahs of Iran do just the opposite.

For them, the problem is not that the Iranian issue is hotly debated between the candidates, the incumbent GOP president Donald Trump and the Democrat vice-president Joe Biden. Rather, they want to negatively influence POTUS’s chances of getting a second term. Looking to put a spin on his foreign policy, they are using the Iranian political and media lobby in US decision-making circles.

The mullahs believe that their only chance to stay in power and continue their regional expansion is if Trump does not win the next election and Democratic candidate Joe Biden becomes the next president. The former vice president has pledged to return to the nuclear agreement track as soon as he takes office.

A Trump win would spell disaster for the Iranian mullahs. This victory could mean that the sanctions process will continue; the Iranian economy will be further choked.

Building peace, security and stability between Israel and the Arab countries undermines all of Iran’s ambitions...
Most important though, the Trump administration has recently succeeded in reorganizing the strategic landscape of the Middle East. It mediated an agreement on official relations between the UAE and Bahrain on one side and Israel on the other. As a result, Iran’s regional calculations will surely go awry.

Building peace, security and stability between Israel and the Arab countries undermines all of Iran’s ambitions, places it in a state of unprecedented regional blockade, and makes the US sanctions feel twice as bad. In addition to the mullahs’ fear of military cooperation between the Gulf states and Israel, the mere existence of this possibility puts the mullahs in a permanent state of fear.

All of their illicit investments in setting up regional arms, to threaten Israel in Lebanon and Syria through the Lebanese Hezbollah militia and other sectarian militias that Iran has brought into Syrian territory, will be reduced to ashes.

Indeed, the UAE and Bahrain’s exercise of their sovereign right to establish official relations with Israel is a clever use of pressure cards, or an objective correlative, reducing the risk of existing and potential threats. The move is brilliant given the political room for manoeuvre available to the diplomats of both countries.

Nevertheless, both nations officially assured that this measure would not target any other regional party. The mere fact that it is announced creates unbearable strategic pressure on the Iranian mullahs.

As a matter of fact, they have long banked on the stereotypes of Arab diplomacy. They did not see coming a possibility to break the silence, to think outside the box and to develop new insights into old conundrums.

From now on, the regional scene becomes the place for a strategic game between groundbreaking and run-of-the-mill actors. The ball is now placed on the Iranian court.

Still, the mullahs often bet on futile and absurd notions around the so-called axis of resistance and other clichés predicated on violent solutions through military action and totally rule out any political options, even those based on reason and realism.

Basically, the mullahs do not want solutions to problems and crises. They wish to see them last. This is what their so-called legitimacy at home among their henchmen and abroad among their well-wishers depends on.

Salem AlKetbi is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.