assaults, tanker hijackings, threats to navigation and drone attacks, it is not
easy to keep your cool in such a tense atmosphere, but this is the game and its
rules of play. What is happening in the Gulf is a battle of nerves.
Iran is like playing a Rubik’s Cube — solving it requires many attempts before
getting the correct final form. Wrong steps are easier and more numerous than
the right ones. A military confrontation with Iran seems easier too; however,
it may destroy the military power of the regime but not necessarily eliminate
it, creating a bigger problem for the region. The coalition may also win the
war, but the war could destroy the economic capabilities of the Gulf states.
the crisis could start small with a step like rescuing a hijacked oil tanker,
but it may then get out of control and develop into a wider war. There are also
other possibilities to take into account, such as the positions of the other
major powers. China and Russia have their own different calculations. Russia
has several differences with the West in its former sphere of influence, which
it lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it dearly wants to restore
its old capitals, from Kiev to Prague. China also has its own differences with
the US in the East China and South China Seas, as well as their trade disputes.
Thus, in the event of a complicated and prolonged Iranian crisis, which is not
resolved swiftly militarily or politically, these countries will intervene for
their own aims, as Russia has done in Syria.
this is not limited only to the two big players; there are the Iranian militias
too, which are trained to fight the street battles of Tehran. They cannot win
the war, but they are capable of spreading chaos throughout the region. Then
there is the counter-front, where different countries may have different aims.
Israel’s main issue is to eliminate or prevent Iran’s nuclear weapons. Saudi
Arabia’s top priority, on the other hand, is to stop Iran’s threatening
project, which includes taking over its neighbors Yemen and Iraq. This
difference in purpose will surely be reflected in the nature of the
may say that “as long as the picture seems full of risks and differences, why
not go back to what the situation was a year ago,” i.e., before the economic
sanctions were applied or even before Washington announced its withdrawal from
the nuclear agreement, and thus avoid another war? This is an idealistic
approach, but it will not end the problem. The fact is that “for free” peace
only postpones the war until it becomes harsher and more dangerous later.
continues its drive to dominate Iraq, Syria and Yemen, which is a public policy
proudly declared by senior leaders in Tehran. It will continue in its drive
until the delayed war occurs.
many reports confirm that Iran is, indeed, close to building its nuclear
weapons. The British believe it is only a year away from achieving that aim.
Washington says Iran has never stopped working on its nuclear program, despite
its claims and signed pledges. This means that, once Iran becomes a nuclear
power, no one would ever confront it militarily due to its danger to the world;
thus, the big powers would have to accept the status quo that Tehran would
the timing of decisive action is a fundamental factor, whereas postponing it is
not in favor of Iran’s opponents, whatever today’s calculations and the risks
of confrontation are. This, again, does not mean that anyone wants war. In
fact, no one wants it. US President Donald Trump’s plan is blockading Iran and
forcing it to agree to stop its aggressive policy. Trump’s goals may take one
to four years to achieve. Until then, the difficulty lies in maintaining nerves
and not getting dragged into a major war, and convincing Tehran that the war
will destroy it, without the need to prove it on the ground.
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He
is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor in
chief of Asharq Al-Awsat.
Source: The Arab News