Iran, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan have one thing in common, they all share borders with Iraq.
Syian regime is fighting the rebels, Turkey is looking for a role in region and the Turkish leadership are accused of being confused. Kuwait seemed mainly interested in getting the new Iraq to pay for Saddam’s madness. Saudis are all busy with having 3 crown princes, only months apart and a growing tension with neighbouring Qatar. Iran continues to be the toughest nut to crack.
Saudi and Egypt are calling for “peaceful transition” of power in Syria signalling a significant retrogression of US and it’s client states from supporting the rebels.
The 2 years of insurgency in Syria has allowed a considerable shift of focus from Iraq to Syria. It has somehow given Iraq and its fledgling government some breathing space. When QTS & Co (Qatar, Saudi and Turkey) divert their full attention to Iraq again, we could witness some serious challenges again. Of course, it is not being suggesting they have left Iraq “unattended” for any while, however the difference between 2013 and 2003 is an Iraqi PM who is growing in power and prowess and the conflict re-appearing between Qatar and Saudi.
Iraq is “becoming a Strategic threat in the region” as viewed by Haaretz on 6th Jan 2013.
So while Iraq reassumes a significant role in the Middle East, many seem to feel threatened. Turkey and the Gulf regimes are no exception.
In an ideal world one would certainly wish Iraq had ideal relations with all its neighbors but then this is not an ideal world. So the Iraqi government must review their alliances carefully.
It seems that Iran’s strategic calculations in Syria and earlier in Iraq is paying dividend now. The US seems to steer more towards talks and less towards military confrontation, that’s what analysts believe.
The Pentagon chief handpicked by Obama, Chuck Hagel is perceived to be a staunch critic of Iraq War and the US hard-lined policies towards Iran. In 2002 Hagel, a republican, supported improving relations with Iran while denouncing Bush’s “Axis of Evil” attitude. Chuck Hagel nomination has been approved -on 12th February 2013- by a Senate Committee and his appointment was confirmed on 27th February as the US Defense Secretary.
Peter Feaver -Professor of political science- in an article on Foreign Policy suggested many hope “Hagel’s pick signals that the President -Obama- is willing to abandon the military option in dealing with Iran”.
Earlier Ryan Crocker in an interview with Al-Monitor advised the US to be “cautious” in supporting rebels in Syria “Because you could find yourself decisively committed to the outcome that is most injurious to our interests.” In other words the US is gradually giving up of the Qatari-Saudi-Turkish endeavours in Syria.
The “crippling sanctions” on Iran don’t seem to work and if anything it’s contribution to reduce Iran’s dependence on Oil, a challenge Iraq and all the hydrocarbon-reliant countries (Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi, UAE, Libya, etc) will have to face sooner or later.
The Sanctions are not only failing to deter Iran but it seems it is rallying further public support to continue the nuclear program which Iranians claim is for peaceful purposes. It was announced earlier in 2013 that they are building 3,000 new-generation advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges in the their Natanz plant.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believed that “Iran will not make any concessions or any corrections to its policies” as a result of these sanctions.
Majority of Iranians support their government in continuing the nuclear program despite the sanctions. 63% believed Iran should continue developing their nuclear capabilities even with the sanctions. Also 73% found the US and its allies responsible for the sanctions and the hardhips they endure as a result. This was revealed in a poll published on February 2013 by the US research centre Gallup.
Hence, the International players must view the Middle East region with a fresh pair of eyes and not to be blinded by certain Arab monarchies or emirates aspirations. The West generally will continue to prusue their interests but the Middle East Equation in 2013 is a whole new one compared to a few years ago.