Obama Benefits Iran by Visiting Saudi Arabia
"Reassuring" Saudi Arabia and other gulf nations about Iran's increasing presence was on the top of Obama's agenda visiting Saudi Arabia.
This is not the first time that President Obama is attempting to reassure Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region about Iran's behavior. In order to sell his nuclear deal to Middle Eastern countries, Obama attempted to make every country in the region believe that the nuclear deal is not going to endanger the security, stability, and national interests of gulf nations. His efforts were convincing as several countries including Saudi Arabia were happy about Obama's assurances.
Aside from the rhetoric, it is crucial to point out this time the Barack Obama's administration is also going to tilt towards Iran behind closed doors, as it has done since the nuclear negotiations were initiated several years ago.
Déjà Vu : Collections of Words to Preserve His Interests
The previous reassurances to sell his nuclear deal were a collections of words rather than actions, as Iran's aggressive, interventionist, militaristic and provocative policies and actions have currently reached an unprecedented level while, in every case, Obama's administration has been lenient towards the Islamic Republic, sometimes justified Iran's actions, or minimized and underestimated Iran's militaristic behaviors and destabilizing threats.
The current promises are also déjà vu. With his visit, Obama is attempting to preserve his nuclear deal with Iran, keep his alliance with Saudi Arabia while removing the possibility of gulf nations taking collective action against Iran. This is not a balancing act between Iran and other nations as the mainstream media contend, but it is a clear tilt towards Tehran.
In the last few months, every action from Iran- which breached United Nations Security Council resolutions (such as the launching of ballistic missiles), violated the international norms (such as the burning of Saudi embassy), or imperiled the security of the region (such as showing off about the delivery S-300, sending more arms to the Houthis, financing and training more Shiite militias to fight in the region, publicly supporting Bashar Al Assad, and employing Hezbollah to exacerbate sectarian conflicts)- were all either ignored by the Obama's administration with no comments from the White House, or justified by the White House arguing that Iranian leaders were taking actions to address those issues.
But on the other hand, the White House has been very quick and forceful in condemning and criticizing other countries in the region for taking the matters into their own hands and confronting Iran or its proxies; the Shiite militias.
How will Iran Benefit Geopolitically, Strategically and Economically?
Obama's visit is not only going to fail to reduce Iran's growing militaristic influence in the region, but it will benefit Iran by giving the Iranian leaders more room to maneuver in the region.
First of all, Iranian leaders are cognizant that Obama's visit is going to soothe other countries' concerns about Iran's regional hegemonic ambitions, it will minimize the perception of Iran's aggressive and interventionist behavior, and it will eliminate the possibility of gulf nations coalescing to confront Iran's threat independent of the US.
It follows that those who have the final say in Iran's foreign policy- the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei and senior officials of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)- will continue to build their military empire, reach their ideological objectives, and pursue their agenda for superiority and regional pre-eminence, all while they have less concerns of any regional reaction due to "Obama's reassurance".
Secondly, Iranian leaders are cognizant of the fact that they have confined the Obama administration with the nuclear deal.
Iran's growing Presence Need to be Counterbalanced Without the US
An Iranian diplomat once told me that President Obama is trying "to have the date and the donkey", a Persian proverb, which means that Obama is attempting " to have the cake and eat it too"; or, to have both Iran and Saudi Arabia. But he argued that, at the end of the day, Obama will choose Iran because he is dedicated to preserving his legacy, the nuclear pact.
In order to preserve the nuclear deal, President Obama will continue with his appeasement policies towards the Islamic Republic, ignore their aggression and interventions in the region, give them more carrots so they do not pull out of the nuclear deal, as well as minimize and brush-off the IRGC's threat.
In other words, from the perspective of Iranian leaders, Obama's visit is absolutely beneficial for Iran's interests because this visit will be nothing but a collection of words and it will alleviate the concerns of the nations in the region about the IRGC's belligerent actions. In reality, the Islamic republic will find it much easier to ratchet up its militaristic agenda. We should also remember that over the last three decades, regardless of US rhetoric, or military threats, Khamenei and the IRGC did not abandon their ideological objectives, as well as their pursuit for superiority and regional pre-eminence.
In fact, if we look at the latest developments in Iran ahead of Obama's visit, the Islamic Republic is not only not restraining its provocative behavior in the region, but is also showing off its military power, deploying more hard power, and more forcefully drawing red lines for other countries in regards with Syria, Iraq, Bahrain, and Yemen. Even President Rouhani, the so-called moderate, has credited Iran's economic, technological and scientific advancements after the nuclear deal to the IRGC's increasing influence in the region. Rouhani pointed out that "Had it not been for the mighty army, it would have been impossible to achieve this".
In closing, Obama's visit to Saudi Arabia will benefit Iran geopolitically, strategically and economically. Iran is aware that Obama's cosmetic "reassurances" to other countries in the region- that everything is going to be fine- will grant the IRGC and Khamenei more room to maneuver, increase their influence in the region and let them pursue their hegemonic ambitions. This is due to the notion that Obama's reassurances will prevent other countries in the region from taking serious and collective action against Iran (which is Iran's major concern), while Obama's reassurances is releasing Iran to do what it desires without any fear of regional or global repercussions.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an American political scientist, business advisor and the president of the International American Council on the Middle East. Harvard-educated, Rafizadeh serves on the advisory board of Harvard International Review. An American citizen, he is originally from Iran and Syria, lived most of his life in Iran and Syria till recently. He is a board member of several significant and influential international and governmental institutions, and he is native speaker of couple of languages including Arabic and Persian. He also speaks English and Dari, and can converse in French, Hebrew.
You can learn more about Dr. Rafizadeh on HERE.
You can contact him at Dr.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at @Dr_Rafizadeh. This post first appeared on Al Arabiya.