TURKEY’S PRESIDENT Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani in Sochi..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The past couple of weeks have been shaky for the Middle East, especially after the domestic and regional fuss created by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
In the beginning, it just seemed to be another Saudi power consolidation.
Many analysts thought that it was just another Tuesday in the Middle East – but it did not stop there. Soon, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation while on Saudi soil, which put the whole region in a more awkward situation by involving Iran.
The Al Saud folks are certainly not the good guys in the region. This applies to the crown prince and his father, King Salman, too. For instance, in 2015 the former CIA official Bruce Riedel revealed in an article that King Salman himself was the lead fundraiser for Mujahideen, or Islamic holy warriors, in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and for the Bosnian extremists in 1990s.
And yet, in choosing Riyadh as his first overseas destination, US President Donald Trump did not object the kingdom’s involvement in such illicit activities. And there’s a reason for this: the US policy of “enhanced containment” towards Iran, which has been in place since 1979.
But has this policy really stopped Iran’s meddling in the region? Tehran has been simultaneously conducting proxy wars throughout the region on multiple fronts. The “Shi’ite corridor” from Tehran to Beirut is paved and secured better than ever. Plus, the ayatollahs play politics whenever it is crucial to their survival, unlike Saddam Hussain who never managed to play a good hand against the West. The Iran nuclear deal is a perfect example.
To put it simply and bluntly, the US has to stop supporting a wrongdoer to stop another wrongdoer.
The main source of Wahhabism can neither be a trusted ally in the war on terrorism nor a reliable actor to maintain the power balance in the region. Moreover, a green light to an inexperienced, greedy Saudi crown prince could cause more instability in the region. And who benefits from instability the most? Tehran.
Let’s take a look at Syria and Iraq, and the influence Iran has gained in those countries as a result of instability.
It is a fact that since the Islamic Revolution Iran has been vigorously implementing the strategy of taking advantage of conflicts and instabilities in the region; in some cases, the conflicts have been fueled by Iran itself.
There are more reliable actors in the region to empower and support.
For instance, the Kurds. They have been fighting Islamic State (ISIS) on multiple fronts. They truly sacrificed in the war on terrorism and have not played double agent. There are active Iranian Kurdish opposition groups that lack support both financially and politically. If the US is truly determined in pursuing the enhanced containment policy then the Kurds should be supported and treated as allies in truth, and not only on paper.
Syria and Iraq would be in a completely different situation today if it were not for the sacrifice the Kurds made. Furthermore, the result of the war on ISIS would have been very different if it were not for the Kurds. Plus, the Iranian-backed militias would have controlled a much bigger part of the region – exactly the expansion of the enemy that the US has tried to stop.The author has worked as human rights observer and journalist in Colombia, Iraq and Greece. In the past three years he has been working with refugees in Greece. Born in Iranian Kurdistan, he was exiled and now lives in Norway. You can follow him on Twitter at @RamyarHassani, or email him at [email protected]