Flammable landscape of the Middle East
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 20
By Azer Ahmadbayli – Trend:
Nobody wishes next big war to happen in the Middle East, but everyone try hard to bring it closer.
Politically, the Islamic Republic has never been as strong in the region as it is now. Its military presence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon scares many, making even former opponents like Israel and some Gulf states combine efforts against Tehran. No wonder if they establish diplomatic ties in the foreseeable future.
Neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran will become theater of hostilities. But states with weak central power – Lebanon and, again, Syria will.
All the confronting countries are acting in the environment of full mistrust and enmity. Last week, for instance, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called for ceasefire in Yemen as the first step to resolve Yemeni crisis but his words were left without any feedback.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia and foreign ministers of other Arab countries criticized Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah at an emergency meeting of Arab League in Cairo, calling for a united front to counter Iranian interference to the Arab states’ affairs.
However, as usual, there is difference of opinions among the Arab states. Qatar's foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani noted that those regional countries that say are afraid of Iran's clout in the region, should seek to resolve the issues with Tehran peacefully.
[Reaching out to Iran] is the way Qatar encourages other Arab states to choose, he told a US TV channel, ISNA reported on Sunday.
Lebanese and Iraqi foreign ministers ignored the meeting.
Iran, from its side, is not going to give up one inch of its position even if it worsens.
A crack appeared between Iran and France, which can’t help but please Washington.
Last week France called for “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran over its ballistic missile program, which excited Iran’s indignation. France’s Foreign Ministry officials didn’t exclude imposition of new sanctions on Iran in this regard.
Iran strongly rejected any negotiations round the topic: “It does not benefit Mr. Macron and France to interfere on the missile issue and the strategic affairs of the Islamic Republic, which we have great sensitivities about,” a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader Ali Akbar Velayati said.
“What does this issue have to do with Mr. Macron? Who is he at all to interfere? If he wants relations between Iran and France to grow then he should try not to interfere in these issues.”
Those harsh expressions are evidence of that Tehran is not much concerned to worsen political (and economic) relations with one of JCPOA signatories.
Also, US President Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron spoke on Saturday about the need to work with allies to counter Hezbollah and Iran.
It is Israel who will be standing against Hezbollah in the region as a striking force. So far Tel-Aviv has limited itself by making warnings it would not tolerate Iran’s presence in Syria and Lebanon. However, it is well-known that Israel can pass from words to deeds at any unexpected moment “to nip bad things in the bud” and without turning back on someone’s opinion when it concerns the state’s security interests.
On Wednesday Saad al Hariri reportedly should be back in Beirut and much will depend on his position. Will he this time blame Hezbollah at its home as he has clearly done from Saudi Arabia? And will the Lebanese society be divided again?
Any sharp move made by warring parties in the region can become the last drop making the cup run over.