Iran's mullahs and strategies for the next stage

What we have is a return to the atmosphere before the nuclear agreement with Iran, with the mullahs one step ahead. Make them worry. Op-ed.

Dr. Salem A lKetbi  ,

Iranian missile display in Tehran
Iranian missile display in Tehran

There is no doubt that extreme anxiety and confusion dominate the vision of the Iranian mullahs' regime in this period. Indeed, what is happening around them comes from outside the box of their traditional strategic calculations, which were, and still are, centered around outdated ideas related to the implementation of the expansionist hegemonic project that began after the signing of the agreement about the nuclear program with the ‘5 + 1’ group, an agreement full of loopholes that focused on only one aspect, the Iranian nuclear program. The agreement failed to take into account the rest of the variables and data that might guarantee the neutralizing of the Iranian danger and threats.

What is happening now represents a return to the atmosphere before the nuclear agreement in the Middle East, but with the presence of a pressing element on the atmosphere of negotiation, represented by the expansion of Iranian influence in Iraq and Syria. The mullahs seek that Iraq and Syria be considered “hostages” and an influential negotiating card when they are expected to sit at the negotiating table with the US President Joe Biden's team or any other international parties.

The truth is that the mullahs, through exploiting the flaws in the nuclear agreement, have achieved strategic gains that are difficult to deny. Despite Iran's heavy losses on the economic, trade and developmental levels following the US withdrawal from the agreement, they used the agreement as an umbrella for their expansion project, and ignored any impact of the expected US withdrawal - at that time - on the major economic gains they achieved thanks to the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iran, some of which dated back to 1979, and were satisfied with only seeing a premature goal of military expansion and the pursuit of reaching the shores of Syria in the west and Yemen in the south.

And despite their heavy human and material losses as a result of this ill-considered expansion, they insist on empty claims that are refuted by the successive Israeli strikes suffered by the Iranian militias stationed in Syria!

In light of this, it can be said that the strategy of the mullahs since the outbreak of the Khomeini revolution in 1979 has not changed, and it appears that it is not subject to change in the foreseeable future. This strategy consists in the use of Iranian oil money to spread violence and actualize the slogans
It is not right for a revolution to claim success after nearly four decades, while it has not succeeded in exporting any Iranian product except for sectarianism, violence, murder and conspiracies!
of that revolution, and the victim for this is Iran with its youth and people as well as regional and international security and stability.

It is not right for a revolution to claim success after nearly four decades, while it has not succeeded in exporting any Iranian product except for sectarianism, violence, murder and conspiracies!

In light of such a painful reality, the task of the US President-elect Joe Biden’s administration in dealing with the mullahs becomes very difficult, because recent history simply indicates to us the Iranian “carpet weaver” tactic. That means manipulation of the American negotiator as occurred during the era of former President Barack Obama and his exhaustion over long years of negotiation and marathon rounds until he was forced to sign an agreement that carries the genes of failure.

The lesson here is for the new administration to deal with the mullahs according to experiences and not based on the perceptions that sometimes inhabit the heads of negotiators, because the mullahs' regime will not turn into an element of regional stability except through strong international deterrence that puts due limits and restrictions on the moves of this regime. And that has to be done in a manner that guaranties the right of the region's countries to security and sovereignty over their territories and the non-interference of this hateful regime in their internal affairs.

And if some analyses see that President Trump's recent decisions regarding Iran are aimed at disrupting President-elect Biden's drive to return to the nuclear agreement with Iran, then I believe that these decisions in fact serve, and do not hinder the Biden administration. That is because the mullahs' regime being in a relatively comfortable negotiating environment strengthens its position and pushes the mullahs to harden their demands, but the escalation of pressure, whatever it is, will undoubtedly contribute to forcing the mullahs to submit to the American dictates.

This can be the case provided that the new American administration does not rush to obtain a short-term political gain whether by returning to the nuclear agreement without conditions or restrictions, or by ignoring the demands of the Gulf Cooperation Council States to have a real role in any upcoming negotiations on the nuclear deal with Iran.

Finally, no one will deny that one of the most important lessons of the recent past in dealing with the mullahs is that the best outcomes of US-Iranian relations were achieved during periods when the mullahs sensed severe anxiety and danger to the future of their regime.

This happened during several periods, including during the US invasion of Iraq. In 2003, and following the American military response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 by bombing Al Qaeda and Taliban camps in Afghanistan, where the mullahs evinced great cooperation with the United States. And despite what is said that the US invasion of Iraq contributed to opening the door to Iranian influence in this great Arab country, it must be recognized that this was not in the minds of the mullahs, and was not the real reason that pushed them to cooperate. That came as an unintended negative impact due to mismanagement of the stage that followed the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.

The conclusion here is that putting the mullahs' regime under pressure is the only way to reach a viable “deal” that meets the aspirations of all parties to achieve regional security and stability.

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