A new app recently came on to the global market, and downloads are free. Users can resolve bitter disputes using dialogue and compromise, without violence, and it uses a revolutionary new language that was previously unknown in the region. The patent for this technology is held by US President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry. There are some who are very pleased with the application. For others, it causes serious concern. What is clear is that the world is no longer as it was.
Two months ago, I wrote that Iranian-American reconciliation was not an unimaginable scenario. Especially not in a changing world. A world in which Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak goes home shamefaced after just three weeks of bloody riots. A world in which Hamas, Damascus’ favorite child, stabs it in its back and spurs it. A world in which the “great murderer” Yassir Arafat became a negotiating partner of Israeli prime ministers.
In a world in which iron fists melt, even Iran and the US can make productive deals. Ten years ago, Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi dismantled his unconventional weapons and, from that day, the world ceased to perceive him as a terrorist. What happened to Qaddafi afterwards was not a punishment for his dismantling of the nuclear project, but rather its bitter result. The military coalition headed by France knew that he was defenseless, and moved to oust him.
The agreement between Iran and the US did not catch Israel unprepared. Israel was ready with its rebuttal. In Jerusalem, there is no intention of allowing Iran a nuclear program for peaceful purposes, and they are demanding a complete destruction of all the centrifuges. This is an unrealistic demand. The US has the right to demand that Iran give up on a nuclear bomb, but it does not have the right to demand that any country give up nuclear energy. Especially not in a world in which its ally, Israel, has an advanced nuclear program.
The agreement that was born last night in Geneva is the first stage in a series of understandings between Tehran and Washington, whose goal is to bring Iran back into the family of nations, in exchange for the destruction of its nuclear bomb. Iran’s sincerity will be carefully assessed by experts, but the bulk of the agreement is behind us. This is the Obama administration’s second diplomatic achievement in a short time, coming just three months after it overcame the chemical weapons crisis in Syria without putting a single US soldier in danger.
A warming of relations between the US and Iran could, in just a few short years, dramatically change the balance of power throughout the Middle East. It could reestablish Iran as a friend of the US, and allow it to overtake its Arab allies, headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This is the Arab world’s nightmare scenario.
A regional superpower that is extending its tentacles in every direction
If today Israel is afraid of losing its American partner for an attack on Iran, it can take solace in the fact that it is not alone. The Arabs, and most of all Saudi Arabia, are afraid that within a year or two the Tehran-Washington relationship will become so close that it will surpass theirs. For them, the “Iranian threat” is not a nuclear bomb, and not the “point of no return.” For the Arab allies of the US, Iran is a regional power that is extending its tentacles in every direction, and is trying to gain influence in every important arena.
Just ask the King of Bahrain, who is afraid of a military coup that would render him an Iranian colony. There is a special word for this in the Arab political lexicon: tashayyu' - the dissemination of Shiite ideology. In every place in the Middle East that there an ongoing bloody conflict, there is an Iranian presence expressed in money, arms and loyal proxies. In Lebanon, in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen, in Bahrain, and in Gaza. The fact that Sunni Saudi Arabia’s leaders extend their long arm into the same arenas in not enough to console the Arab nations.
Syrian President Basher Assad, in the days when he was still courting Israel, used to say that peace was the cheapest option. An interesting question: over the past decade, while Jerusalem was working to push Washington to attack Iran, was the Israeli government working to encourage them to move towards an effective conciliation agreement with Tehran? Hugs not guns?
There is a good chance that this morning Obama defused the Iranian bomb without a single shot being fired. Israel should be happy about this, and not scowl at Washington as though it was betrayed.
The author is the Arab Affairs correspondent for “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal).
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on November 24, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013