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US Middle East Policy At A Crossroads Amid IRGC Dilemma – Analysis

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By Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri *

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For several decades now, the US has pacified and appeased the Iranian regime rather than confronted its terrorism or, at the very least, curbed and disrupted its aggressive behavior.

Tehran practices its terrorist behavior and destabilizes the security of the region through various means, both direct and indirect. This regime has always been known for behavior that intends to harm the security of the region. Much information and numerous intelligence documents have indicated its involvement in supporting militias and terrorist organizations including Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis and its units in Syria, as well as Al-Qaeda and Daesh, whose leaders and their families it has hosted on Iranian soil. This explains why terrorism strikes in all countries in the region except Iran.

The Obama administration in 2015 appeased Iran with a flawed nuclear agreement whose terms did not prevent it from making a bomb after a specified period of time. It did not look into Tehran’s behavior in the region, its terrorist militias or its ballistic missile program. Washington continues to annoy everyone with the file of human rights, except for Tehran, which is one of the worst offenders in the world.

The nuclear deal did not include any consideration of the interests of the Gulf states or the wider Arab world and was nothing more than a postponement of Iran’s military nuclear project. That is why former President Donald Trump rejected it and imposed harsh sanctions on the regime. However, as soon as the Biden administration came into office, its eagerness to revive the ominous agreement became apparent, along with its political attacks on Arab countries, not only with blatant statements but also with its regional and international policies and positions.

The Arab and Gulf states have not changed their attitude toward America. On the contrary, America’s positions have become more severe and less concerned with partnership and support for its allies, especially as it is now considering removing the IRGC from its terrorist blacklist.

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There is an American and Western policy that cannot be condoned: The insistence on leaving Saudi Arabia and the UAE militarily exposed to missile and drone attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen. They are imposing illogical requirements on the export of arms to confront these serious threats.

In the event that the US lifts the sanctions against the IRGC, the Biden administration would achieve the aspirations of former President Barack Obama, as revealed in his famous 2016 interview with The Atlantic magazine, under the title “The Obama Doctrine.” At the time, Obama said that the Saudis needed to “share” the Middle East with Iran. However, the Kingdom is the exact opposite of Iran, as it does not want control, but rather the stability and independence of the region’s countries.

The question here is: Is it acceptable to say, for example, that the countries of Europe should share influence with Russia? Does the current US administration accept that? Or does it put forward the idea in the media, let alone put it politically?

Even the Houthis’ terrorist designation, as imposed by the Trump administration, did not last for more than a month until the Biden administration came in to cancel it. This encouraged Tehran and the Houthis to recharge their terror batteries. Saudi oil facilities were subsequently targeted, as well as civilian airports and power, electricity and water stations in the Kingdom.

The UN Security Council’s description of the Houthis last month as a “terrorist group” makes us think this was just a move aimed at getting Saudi Arabia to pump more oil, rather than a genuine confrontation with terrorism.

Iran’s IRGC is the first factory and supporter of terrorism in the region, if not the whole world. It represents a great danger and makes matters very complicated. The US removing the IRGC’s terrorist designation would force Washington’s allies and partners in the region to reconsider their security and political relations with the White House, especially after its failure to involve them in the nuclear negotiations. If a new Iran nuclear deal is agreed, it will enable Tehran to increase its interventions in the region and its cultivation of terrorism through its proxies. The world is watching how America deals with Iran’s terrorism and how it treats its partners and allies.

Meanwhile, the countries affected by Iranian terrorism will not stand idly by, but will instead respond to every threat, starting with the regime’s nuclear program, its drones and ballistic missiles, and even its militias, especially if the IRGC, the world’s largest terrorist militia, is removed from America’s terrorist blacklist.

  • Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri is a political analyst and international relations scholar. Twitter: @drhamsher7

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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