MAY 22 ― Is the United States, and its allies, heading for war with Iran?
No one knows for sure ― but tensions are definitely rising: a USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier was recently deployed to the region; plans were reportedly being drawn up to position 120,000 troops in the Middle-East; and non-essential staffs have been evacuated from Iraq.
On the surface of it, it would appear that a war with Iran would please Netanyahu, given that the Ayatollah regime has been a fierce opposition to Israeli’s occupation of Palestine.
But in reality the destruction of Iran would only create more havoc especially since the unholy alliances between Israel and many of the Sunni Arab nations in the Gulf region today were built on the basis of shared hostility towards the Iranian’s Shiah regime.
A diminished Iran could potentially alter the regional power dynamics, which is likely to see emphasis by the Arab nations shifting towards the conflict in Palestine, perhaps superficially, and possibly at the expense of Israel ― more so as Turkey joins in the competition to establish hegemony over the Muslim world.
Furthermore, a full-blown war between the US and Iran could plunge Israel into a mutually destructive conflagration with Iran’s ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah.
This alone should be a strong enough reason to de-escalate the tension in the region. However, common sense often fails to prevail ― and it would be particularly unwise to ignore the Trump factor.
Whilst both parties have attempted to downplay the threat of a military conflict, in the last couple of days, we have seen the President shifting tone with his tweet: “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
The sabotage of four oil tankers and the drone attack on a major oil pipeline, followed by the interception of several missiles launched from Yemen ― all of which were very quickly linked to Tehran. An unnecessary escalation leading to the current flashpoint.
It is well-known that there are hidden hands pulling the strings and orchestrating the power play in the Middle-East.
Washington has hinted that very soon the “deal of the century” will be announced, apparently it will offer a solution to the longstanding Palestine-Israeli conflict.
The battle for Jerusalem would take on a new level, with rising speculation that the guardianship of the holy sites would be transferred away from the current Jordanian House of Hashim.
Not much is known about the details of the resolution, but if there is anything to go by, the recent US decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the relocation of its embassy there, suggest that the deal would likely be lopsided ― if this is proven to be true, it could evoke significant opposition, and possibly it could be led by Iran too.
The Iran-hawks within the Trump administration ― people like National Security Adviser John Bolton, or Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ― are allegedly drumming the war beats as a means to bring about a regime change in Iran.
Lest we forget, the current regime was in fact a product of Western interferences.
The 1953 Iranian coup d’état was instigated by the UK, with help from the US, to overthrow Iranian’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mosaddegh in favour of a monarchical Shah rule. This was orchestrated by the West in response to the decision by the Iranian parliament to nationalize control over its oil assets. The overthrowing of a democratically elected leader through Western influences, and replaced with an ally of the US and the UK, had fueled a surge of nationalism which eventually culminated in the 1979 revolution. The revolution had installed the current Ayatollah regime that we know off today and had also left tremors across the entire region, particularly creating fears amongst other ruling monarchies.
This fear, that started 40 years ago, continues until today and manifest itself as a competition between different political ideologies in a bid to establish power and regional supremacy.
At the crux of this, is the politics of the Middle-East, which has always been about power and control ― establishing, maintaining and expanding hegemonic authority within the region ― and it has very little to do with the infamous Sunni-Shiah narrative or, even more generally, with religion at all.
We have to be careful not to be drawn into this conflict, directly or indirectly, on the pretext of supporting the Sunnis against the Shiah. We should avoid falling prey to this old political playbook ― one that peddles religion to sow the seeds of distrust and stoking fears of those that are different from us as a narrative to mobilise support.
Whilst a military confrontation with Iran might be a calculated approach for some of the parties involved, let not this go down in history as a miscalculation on our part. For much of this is a scramble for hegemony in a messy web of geopolitical rivalry ― one that can be partly understood if we ask ourselves: who wins in a war with Iran?
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.