[Freemanlist2] Considerations on the Iranian nuclear issue, from different key players in the region -Prof. Giancarlo Elia Valori

Freeman Center For Strategic Studies bernards at sbcglobal.net
Mon Feb 29 10:49:32 CST 2016


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Conversely, the real keystone of the Russian system in the region could be 
Israel, placed at the centre of regional tensions, very efficient at 
militarily level, distant both from Iran and Saudi Arabia, and now alien to 
the US geopolitics in the region, as well as capable of managing a long war 
of attrition both with Shi’ites and Sunnis. And also capable of threatening 
fully credible retaliations.
Post-JCPOA Iran
Prof. Giancarlo Elia Valori raises additional considerations on the Iranian 
nuclear issue, from the standpoint of different key players in the region
Giancarlo Elia Valori | 29/02/2016
http://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/content/post-jcpoa-iran

We all know that the Russian Federation has been one of the true resolvers 
of the Iranian nuclear issue, also within the negotiations that led the P5+1 
to define the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran.

For Russia, the nuclear deal expands the economy, as well as the strategic 
"rayonnement" of an ally, namely Iran, which is necessary for Russia both in 
the Middle East and in the complex oil-price system, to resolve a question 
of life or death for it: the increase in crude oil prices. Not to mention 
that – in the new equilibrium resulting from the war in Syria – Russia 
supports the Shi’ite Republic insofar as the United States support Saudi 
Arabia and Turkey.

It is worth recalling that it was the Lebanese Shi’ite Imam, Mussa Sadr – 
kidnapped in Rome, probably by Libyan agents – to decide the Syrian Alawites 
belonging to the Shi’ite universe.

Nevertheless, with caution and attention, Russia does not take part in the 
conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran – hoping, on the contrary, to witness 
"a decrease of tensions between the two countries" and supporting all 
measures, which can restore some sort of relations between the two Islamic 
nations.

Is Russia a true ally for Iran?

>From the viewpoint of the current war in Syria, Russia militarily supports 
Bashar el Assad, who is a staunch ally of Iran.

The problem, however, is that the Russian Federation has no strategic 
interest in increasing tensions in the Middle East, which could cause a 
"domino effect" that would be very dangerous for Russian interests, as well 
as for its military and intelligence apparatus. And especially, for the 
linkage between Ukraine and the Russian-Alawite actions in Syria.

The costs of actions in Syria may lead to a decrease of the Russian 
engagement in another key area, namely Ukraine, while this country is 
essential to protect and manage Russia’s oil and gas system, which reaches 
up to its primary market, namely Europe.

Hence, if the Greater Middle East flares up – considering the Syrian crisis; 
the Shi’ite Houthi insurgency in Yemen; the gradual destabilization of the 
Shi’ite areas inside the Saudi Kingdom; and the de facto closure of the sea 
routes south of Suez – then the overstretching of Russian military 
engagement would create severe economic and strategic problems that would be 
hard to solve for Russia.

Conversely, the real keystone of the Russian system in the region could be 
Israel, placed at the centre of regional tensions, very efficient at 
militarily level, distant both from Iran and Saudi Arabia, and now alien to 
the US geopolitics in the region, as well as capable of managing a long war 
of attrition both with Shi’ites and Sunnis. And also capable of threatening 
fully credible retaliations.

We cannot make peace nor waging a war, throughout the Middle East, without 
creating a strategic correlation with Israel. The Palestinian movements of 
the 1970s and 1980s, as well as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and pre-Bashar Syria, 
knew this all too well.

At the time, the solution was a long low-intensity war with the use of 
Palestinian terrorism against targets both in the Jewish State and, above 
all, in the territory of its traditional allies. Terrorism is a poor war, 
which destroys the "enemy" peoples’ morale, but does not cause excessive 
damage to the military structures and facilities of the target country.

On the contrary, the case of ISIS/Daesh is different: a territorial jihad, 
which is the background – as hoped by Al Baghdadi – of the Sunni Islamic 
States after their destabilization and after the wiping out of the "takfiri" 
(apostate) rulers.

Hence, in Syria, we are currently witnessing a real war along its borders, 
because, after Al-Qaeda’s terrorism and the unsuccessful "Arab springs", the 
region has no significant external strategic protection.

Not even Iran now wants a real war along its borders, since it has every 
interest in taking full advantage of the new economic and political climate 
emerged, especially with Europe, after the signing of the Joint 
Comprehensive Plan.

Therefore, a "regional cold war" between Shi’ites and Sunnis in the Middle 
East is likely, once clarified to which sphere of influence Syria, or what 
will remain of it, belongs.

However, how is the management of the P5+1 agreement with Iran progressing, 
which is the keystone of the whole Middle East current system?

At economic level, the Iranian government has set some productive sectors in 
which the Iranian-Russian trade will be enhanced.

According to the plans of the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, the funds given back 
to Iran and the increasing trade with the European Union, the United States, 
Russia and China will create the capital needed for the final economic 
takeoff of the country.

The productive sectors of Iranian-Russian trade regard the nuclear sector, 
armaments, natural gas and oil, of which a price correlation is envisaged 
between the Russian and the Iranian products.

The geoeconomic tripartite relationship foreseen by Iran is the one with 
Russia, Iraq and Venezuela, while Russia proposes coordination with OPEC, as 
a whole, so as to proceed to an acceptable oil price increase per barrel.

After signing the JCPOA, Russia and Iran have also decided to increase their 
economic exchanges from 1.5 billion US dollars in 2013 to 15 billion US 
dollars within the next five years. This means that the Iranian ruling class 
is trying to rebalance and offset the economic opening to the West with an 
almost equivalent expansion of trade with Russia.

Moreover, the Russian Federation is also planning to cooperate with Saudi 
Arabia in the nuclear sector, while it already supports the Iranian nuclear 
industry – and it will support it ever more in the future.

The "stance" of Ali Akbar Velayati, a close aide of Rahbar Khamenei for 
foreign policy, also defines that the future of the stabilization of the 
area stretching from Central Asia to the Maghreb region and the Middle East, 
through the Caucasus, will be permanently guaranteed only by a tripartite 
agreement between China, Russia and Iran.

Europe is currently swinging between a useless and a ridiculous strategic 
stance and the United States have now made it clear to everyone that they 
are walking out of the Middle East – indeed, there is no effective 
alternative to this new geopolitical project.

The agreement envisaged by the Iranian leader is designed to eradicate the 
jihad, enlarge the area of ​​the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and to 
enable China to secure its great project of a new "Silk Road", the so-called 
'One Belt One Road', which was announced by Xi Jinping in October 2013.

Europe, which still delights in useless and expensive "peace operations", 
which maintain and exacerbate conflicts rather than solving them, will have 
an Eastern border controlled by this Sino-Russian-Iranian axis.

In this new area, the European Union will have no say in the matter, while – 
after the disasters made - the United States are walking out of the Middle 
East so as to focus on the project of a new "cold war" along the 
Euro-Russian border.

A strange strategic nonsense, probably useful to keep some grip on the 
geopolitical void that the European Union is today and to avoid the 
territorial, economic and military continuity that the Russian analysts, 
linked to the Eurasian project, are proposing to the now meaningless Europe.

Moreover, in 1991, Iraq openly infringed the rules of the Non-Proliferation 
Treaty, to which it had previously adhered. Khomeini, just risen to power, 
declared that nuclear energy was "satanic", but then he had to change his 
mind.

In the lack of advanced conventional weapons, of well-trained forces and of 
an effective grip of the Shi’ite regime on much of the population, the only 
solution was nuclear weapons, which had been started by the Shah.

Meanwhile, pending the 'Implementation Day' of January 16, 2016, as many as 
593 individuals and companies connected to Iran's project for uranium 
enrichment have been "pardoned" by both the United States and the European 
Union, including many Iranian transport companies, some banks, individual 
experts of nuclear technologies and many companies located outside the Shi’ite 
Republic.

The reason for this is Iran’s compliance with the Agreement, parallel to the 
JCPOA, on the release of four prisoners held in its jails. Iran's behaviour 
is what is defined as a “win-win” strategy in the mathematical game theory: 
you always win regardless of the game strategy.

Hence, faced with Iran’s quick recovery of over 120 billion US dollars 
already frozen in foreign banks, each small-scale calculation shall be 
relinquished by the Shi’ite regime.

This means that Iran will be increasingly interested in putting an end to 
the Syrian game, after quickly annihilating Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate, which 
is the maximum strategic threat to Iran that would be blocked every channel 
with Iraq, Syria and the Mediterranean, in particular.

This is also the problem of China, which cannot complete its operation of 
"New Silk Road" to Europe without eliminating ISIS. And it is also the 
problem of the Jewish State, which has no interest in having, almost along 
its borders, a territorial jihad which could also set fire to the 
Palestinian radicalism inside and outside Israel.

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether and to what extent, in the 
coming months, the Shi’ite State will still need the Lebanese Hezbollah 
along the border with Israel or whether it will use them – as happens 
today – for its proxy wars to be managed without getting too much involved 
and soiling its hands.

It is easy to predict, for the "Party of God", a future very similar to that 
of the North-American Marines, and it is very likely for them to be present 
in Central Asia, in the predominantly Shi’ite areas of Saudi Arabia, in the 
Maghreb region and, in the future, even in Libya.

However, at least 35% of the new funds recovered after the lifting of 
sanctions on Iran will serve to acquire new weapons, both Russian and 
Chinese one, as well as to allow the geopolitical shift of its nuclear 
threat from the territory of the Shi’ite Republic to that of a traditional 
ally, namely North Korea.

Yemen will host an Iranian nuclear power plant; after the current disaster, 
Syria will assign parts of its territory to Iran for its 
nuclear-conventional operations and nothing prevents Iraq from accepting the 
presence of Iran’s “forbidden” weapon systems on its territory.

Hence new weapons, instead of the old nuclear power, which does not allow a 
reasonable threshold for its use or for the credibility of a threat.

The current strategic thinking is not interested in the old game, typical of 
the "cold war", of the nuclear escalation, which, as such, deters the 
opponent. The Iranian leaders’ current doctrine is to have useful weapons – 
a real deterrent, which can be used in the reality of regional clashes.

It comes to mind the old Soviet strategy manual written by General 
Shaposhnikov, in which he defined the use of nuclear weapons in full 
continuity with conventional weapons. It was just a problem of tactical 
usefulness.

Therefore, after signing the JCPOA, Iran has chosen the credible and 
immediate threat instead of an old geopolitics of nuclear confrontation, 
which becomes impossible through the gradual equalization of arsenals.

Incidentally, if the nuclear threat becomes possible in continuity with a 
conventional clash, it will be good for the European and Italian 
decision-makers to rethink many of the clauses of the old Nuclear 
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Italy signed in 1970 and still 
believes to be the "cornerstone" of its foreign policy.

The five-year conference of May 2015 on the review of the Treaty ended with 
no results, while in 1998 even Italy threatened to withdraw from the NPT if 
the legitimate nuclear powers did not guarantee its security and safety.

It would be worth remembering that no one guarantees anybody’ security and 
safety: the Italian political theorist, Nicolò Machiavelli, used to remind 
us of the fact that "States’ own weapons" can make them safe, and he liked 
to repeat that States "cannot be maintained with words".

In addition, after signing the P5+1 non-proliferation agreement, Iran will 
become a legitimate regional power and thus an important mediator and broker 
of future regional conflicts.

We must clarify how and to what extent we could later ensure the Israeli 
security and safety if a new "August war", like the one which broke out 
between the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Israeli armed forces in 2006, 
happened.

If the Jewish State collapses, the whole jihad will unite. It will 
definitely win in the Arab States still considered “moderate” and it will 
dangerously get close to Europe, without any control or supervision, thus 
knocking on its doors.

As it happened on September 11, 1683, when the Polish cavalry defeated the 
Ottomans in Kahlenberg, at the gates of Vienna. Today, Sobieski’s Polish 
cavalry is no longer there.

Indeed, the ideology of multiculturalism, of "submission" – as the French 
writer Houellebecq called it in his novel – no longer allows the battle of 
ideas or the preparation of the real battle.

Hence, without a reliable centre of gravity for us in the Middle East, 
breaking the jihad’s line of continuity and enabling the European Union to 
remain safe within its borders – because Islamist terrorism can turn into an 
open war – there will be no security and safety in the European landmass or 
in the Mediterranean basin.

Therefore, we can think of a new negotiation of the P5+1 "contact group" on 
Iran's missile system, allowing limited conventional weapons. We can also 
think of freezing Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions and then relying on a 
strategic tripartite relationship between Russia, China and EU-NATO. A 
tripartite relationship, which should rebalance the strategic potential of 
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and possibly Iraq, thus keeping the nuclear 
confrontation between Pakistan and India under control.

As we have already said, the United States have focused on their action for 
regionalizing the Russian Federation, which is not in Europe’s interest. 
They will also operate in Central Asia to control the Chinese power 
projection.

Neither Iran nor China are focused on a short-term perspective but, as 
happened before World War II, today the West seems to be inebriated with 
quick fixes to be sold to the media for purely cosmetic geopolitical 
reasons.

Therefore, European countries should think of a less naive policy, more 
sensitive to old and new threats, which are changing shape and position. 
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