Middle East crises

Iran-US regional confrontation enters endgame?

Tehran, November 23, The Iran Project– Almost one and half decades ago when the US former president, George W Bush coined “the Greater Middle East” project, he meant a long-term agenda aimed at the regime change in Muslim world to deal with the challenges in the Middle East.

Although the project later in 2006 replaced by “New Middle East Project” to seem less imposing, both seek to legitimize the US imperial power.

At the height of the Western-backed Israeli siege of Lebanon in June 2006, the later concept was publicly introduced at the heart of Israel, Tel Aviv, by US former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. According to her own terms, the Lebanon war under Israeli raids was the “birth pangs” to push forward the new Middle East, which indeed was seen as “a constructive chaos” in analysts’ attitudes.

Then, the opportunities of the region’s chaos and destabilization would be used so that the US can redraw the map of the Middle East in tune with its own strategic ambitions. Along with willing to reshape the borders and nations, the project also attempted to impose a per-defined socio-political model onto societies which were entirely different from that of the United States.

Since the beginning, however, Iran as a major influential regional player hindered and encountered the implementation of the American project. Unlike the US primary plan to make political change in Iran, it neither occupied it, nor could it stand against Iran.

In return, as the sharpened tip of an arrow named “resistance axis”, Iran turned to a player which has stood against architecting a new regional order desired by the White House. Thus, the Middle East politics in the last 15 years have been mainly characterized by Iran-US rivalries in the light of the so-called American initiative “the New Middle East Project”.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and particularly Lebanon, Syria and Palestine and to lesser extent Latin American countries have been the battlegrounds of not a direct war but also a cold war between Iran and the US. In fact, Washington has preferred to strike Iran’s allies to curb and isolate them, as a strategy to besiege Iran later on.

Saudi Arabia and its followers, European countries and Russia have occasionally been either bystander or player to a game, in which Iran has eliminated the majority of the levers of influence that the White House employed to navigate the complicated regional maze with Iran.

Ousting Saddam from powers, toppling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, clashes in Lebanon, proxy war in Syria, uprising in Bahrain and Saudi aggression against Yemen were the battles where each side seize to depict their strength and influence.

Today, almost 15 years after the official announcement of American initiative and on the eve of new Christian year 2016, the American leading analyst has admitted Iran, as the winner of the regional rivalries during the past decades. In a comment reflected in Wall Street Journal, Ryan Crocker, the Obama administration’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan, argues that “it’s the lowest ebb since World War II for U.S. influence and engagement in the region.” Elsewhere in remarks, he made himself more clear, saying that “today, the void created by U.S. withdrawal is being filled by the very powers that American policy has long sought to contain“.

A precise look at the regions’ today map makes the US commentators far more understandable. With the tables having dramatically been turned, the “new” Middle East looks rather different than the one was once dreamed by US decision makers and its friends in Israel.

Today, Iran has a powerful influence in government of Iraq and thanks to Russia airstrikes launched against ISIS, pro-Iran Syrian government has been stabilized unlike many threats. No need to further say that Lebanese Hezbollah has established itself as a non-state powerful regional player which can’t be disregarded in the settlement of regional disputes. There are also growing signs of Iran’s influence in other countries such as Bahrain and Yemen.

Of course, the US hasn’t sat idly by in past years, applying various strategies to foil Iran’s resistance. With what it did in Iran’s post-election turmoil in 2009, the US intended to cut off the resistance’s axis head, and later in waging proxy wars on Iran, it strove to cut the resistance’s hands. It, however, simply forgets that more heads and hands will take their place, if they are cut off.

In sum, the US-Iran confrontations are increasingly approaching the endgame, where Iran will settle the Syria crisis politically and eradicate ISIS at the end. In this stage, two sides may also witness interactions on issues such as efforts to prevent regime change in Saudi Arabia.