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The Middle East Rift. Part 2. What's Next?

October 15, 2013
<p>The Middle East Rift. Part 2. What's Next?</p>

The Middle East Rift. Part 1

"For the first time in 34 years after the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in February 1979, at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly there were meetings between the top leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States..."


But be that as it may, the experts and the world's media have called “historical” the conversation between the leaders of the two countries that have not had diplomatic relations since 1979.

The main result of the conversation of the Presidents was an order — in an accelerated mode to prepare an agreement on the nuclear issue. This agreement must be worked out within the framework of the negotiation mechanism between Iran and the “Six“ (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany).

So, the direct talks between the U.S. and Iran are now becoming a reality. How to treat this and how does it threaten the Middle East region?

The rapid rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, of course, is objectively necessary to Barack Obama, and to the cautious reformers who won in Iran. Like America, Iran has too many different, and at the same time, similar, problems.

Iran is in a very difficult situation caused by a combination of factors of a systemic nature. The severe shortage of electricity, forcing the government to limit its consumption, does not allow for industrial construction.

Iran's economy mainly remains a producer of oil and gas. Other industries are in the steadily stable critical condition. If nothing else, this alone is the reason for nuclear power being the highest value for Iran, and it does not intend to give it up even under the threat of war.

Iran's rate of unemployment,%
Iran's rate of unemployment,%

The second problem of the modern Iran is related to demography. At present, Iran is one of the youngest countries in the world. Millions of young people in the situation of the depressed economy cannot find work. That is, the explosive material is being accumulated and the same material has already clearly proved its danger during the “Arab Spring”.

The previous President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad postponed this problem having launched an impressive scale education program. Iran became one of the most educated countries, Iranian students for some time were off work. But now they are returning to the labor market. The main thing is — demands of graduates are significantly higher than demands of yesterday's school children. There are no jobs. 40 % of female university graduates and 20 % of men cannot find a job in the country, and many have to look for it abroad.

The course of the rial in a free fall
The course of the rial in a free fall

The third problem is a severe financial crisis. During the reign of Ahmadinejad money supply grew by almost 7-fold — from 50 to nearly 350 trillion rials, even though the economy grew by an average of 4 % a year. Significant funds have been allocated to subsidize housing, implementation of social programs. Now all these trillions lay on the shoulders of the sick economy.

The sanctions imposed a year ago, have added new problems, and so experienced and farseeing Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei chose to see as president not an ultra-conservative, but the man capable of a systematic approach to solving the heavy legacy of the previous government and to bring the country out of the impasse. Sure, Rouhani was authorized “if required, to conclude a contract with the Devil,” which Ayatollahs quite reasonably consider the United States. True, at this, Rouhani himself understands that ultra-conservatives “will always be on his heels,” so if he does not cope, they will replace him. The  extremely unfriendly welcome of the President at Tehran airport on his arrival from New York, had to remind him that not all are happy with him here.

Iran has become "more unhappy" with Ahmadinejad
Iran has become "more unhappy" with Ahmadinejad

Obama has his own reasons for the negotiations. The bet on the moderate Islamists as a force that would clear out the Middle East space from allies of his political opponents in the United States, failed. “Muslim Brotherhood “turned out unable to ideologically and organizationally lead masses in the countries of the “Arab Spring.” Egypt is a vivid example.

Let's assume that Obama has recognized the failure of the scenario with the “brothers” and is ready to give Iran a different role — the role of a powerful replacement for “brothers”, able to follow through. The “Arab Spring” must go on, but in a different way, with different players. The goal remains the same — to reformat the Middle East. The USA wants and has to get away from a direct presence in the Middle East, which sucks trillions of dollars out of America, and to leave the going back to the Medieval Ages, lying in ruins region.

No, Iran is not very manageable, but that is the art of politics — to create conditions under which the USA will benefit, no matter how the scenario develops. Washington, possessing advanced technologies of management of social subjects can count on the success of the venture.

In general, the interests of the negotiators have crossed and coincided in a number of most important positions. Iran needs to get rid of sanctions, it most badly needs foreign investments and new technologies. It needs intensified energy program and successful implementation of the youth employment programs. These actually are its demands for negotiations with the United States.

USA and Iran have held talks on the nuclear issue


For Obama, Iran has to be ready to become a Policeman in the Middle East and to clear the region from too independent and out of control Arabian monarchs, first of all, Saudi Arabia.

The provocation with chemical weapons in Eastern Huta (a suburb of Damascus) was a kind of signal for Obama — the Saudis are able at any moment to destroy the United States' coordinated plans, putting them on the brink of war, which America wants to avoid by all means.

However, this alignment fits in Tehran's long-term plans to achieve leadership in the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia's strategy, aimed at creating extremely radical Sunni Caliphate on the ruins of the Middle East, destroyed by the “Arab spring“, means for Iran in the nearest future a direct confrontation with well armed with Western weapons Islamists. What they are capable of-shows today's war in Syria, and Iranian Ayatollahs have no desire to repeat Syria's fate.

The only way to escape the prepared fate is to destroy the sponsor of terrorism — Al-Saud dynasty.

In this case, the terrorists, deprived of the most powerful financial support, will become fragmented gangs, and to fight them will be much easier. Only then the winner of the Al-Saud, as the  leader of the region,  will be able to offer the Middle East a new paradigm of development that excludes foreign expansion.

However, this is just speculations. Their implementation is a slow process, though not too much time is left. Saudi Arabia and Israel completely disagree with his proposed option for the development of the region. Netanyahu's trip to the General Assembly, his talks with Obama and his recent speech show that Israel strongly opposes the U.S. negotiations with Iran. Under any pretext, it is ready to disrupt them.

Netanyahu: Iran's President - а wolf in the sheep skin


Saudi Arabia fully supports Israel in this, however, the Saudi Intelligence Services don't care about any rules, going through. The chemical attacks in Aleppo, East Huta  are just the beginning.

If need be, provocation can be transferred even to the United States. Terrorist attack of the “9/11“ (September 11, 2001) level is capable of destroying any plans of Obama and forcing him to act the way his political opponents want him to.

This time Russia was solving the problem, and proposed as the way out of the situation, to liquidate the Syrian chemical arsenal. Next time provocation can touch Iran, and it is clear to everybody that Iran won't be eliminating anything.

Russia's proposal has just “completely destroyed”  the apparent unity of the opposition in Syria, while easing of relations between Iran and the United States can, paradoxically as it may seem, complicate the situation in the country.

National coalition of Syrian revolutionary and opposition forces in the form in which it appeared, and has been for most of this year, does not exist any longer: 13 radical jihadist groups that make up the backbone of the anti-government forces, refused to support it. This means that even if the West gives all sorts of support, including the military one, to the National Coalition and eventually brings it to power in Damascus, the civil war will not end, it will just enter a new phase. At this, to resist the jihadists, not concealing that in Syria they represent  “Al Qaeda“ and fight not for the triumph of democracy, but for the establishment of an Islamic, Sharia state, in this case, will have not Assad's government which has a certain support of the community, but a handful of politicians who were unable to assert their authority, even within the opposition movement.

Demarche of jihadists was more than predictable. It only remained to wait for an occasion. The beginning of the USA-Iran negotiations became this occasion. As long as there was probability of attacks on Assad's regime, the opposition was afraid to say a word against Washington. But once it became clear that the USA is actually trying to avoid involvement in a military scenario of solving the Syrian crisis and with obvious relief perceives the idea of putting the Syrian chemical weapons under international control, everything was back to normal. Of course, the “Al-Qaeda” will not support the National Coalition, established, by the way, with support of Americans, if this support does not any longer guarantee intervention in the conflict of U.S. aircrafts and missiles on its side. And the National Coalition hangs in the air...

It seems that the next few months, and perhaps years to come, will be a chain of rapid  events and processes walking on the “razor's edge“.

Hassan Rouhani at the UN: "Iran is no threat"


Of course, a set of positive signals exchanged by Presidents Obama and Rouhani, does not allow us to believe that the Iranian-American relations have come to a strategic reversal. But the new rhetoric, which includes, by the way, a peace-loving message of President of Iran Hassan Rouhani to Americans in English on CNN channel speaks volumes. No one can guarantee that the dynamics will be developed, let alone that this dynamics, along with foreign discharge, will not bring Iran an internal collapse. But meanwhile what is happening in the American- Iranian relations, looks very promising. If this turns out to be the beginning of a breakthrough, Obama's  administration will be able to write down the achievement that will more than “buy out“ the prolonged Syrian ambiguity and indecision.

To some extent, this is Obama's chance. To achieve a “discharge“ with Iran means to break the whole system of stereotypes that have accumulated in both countries. Reconciliation with the arch-enemy, the country of the “axis of evil” — that's what most likely no candidate will include in his election program at the next presidential elections. The next administration is likely to be Republican, and Republicans look at the Iranian problem clearly differently than Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani. This means that the chance is in Obama's hands. And if it is implemented, it will really change a lot in the Middle East.

If Iran as a result of perceived warming emerges from isolation, will no longer be perceived as an “absolute evil“, it can become a new pole in the Islamic part of western Eurasia. It will balance Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, which in all conditions need to continue to cooperate with the United — the latter  is their main customer, and Turkey, increasingly trying to qualify for its own independent role in regional politics.

As the war in Syria in many ways is not just the internal civil war, but also the peripheral conflict between Iran and the Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf, Iran would get the chance to turn from a part of the conflict into a participant of its solving.

Such a development of events would suit Assad too: he would get an ally in the rear, the presence and participation of whom would not have to be a secret. Iran, being on the brink of conflict with the whole world, and Iran trying to improve relations with the world — these are resources of an absolutely different order.

Assad does not seem acceptable to the West, and this seriously complicates the opening US -Iranian perspectives. The Syrian conflict is in the way of these perspectives. One thing, unfortunately, is inseparable from the other. So much the higher is Iran's motivation to accept  legal participation in reasonable appeasing Syria — ultimately it does not matter, with or without Assad. And so, of course, higher is the level of hatred of jihadists, who hoped until recently for almost direct American military support, and who now have witnessed not a friendly handshake yet, but relatively friendly contacts of their two worst enemies — Iran and the United States.

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