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Opinion: Operation Decisive Storm can protect the Gulf | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An army tank moves on a street in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden March 27, 2015. Yemen’s Houthi militia and allied army units seized the southern city of Shaqra in Abyan province on Friday, residents told Reuters, gaining their first foothold on the Arabian Sea. Their entry into the city means they control all […]

That Iran dreams about and works to act as the policeman of the Gulf is up to Tehran. But that the West, led by US, would allow it to be so depends on their mutual interests with Iran. What Washington and Tehran, its new friend in the region, are not aware of is that the Gulf area pre-Operation Decisive Storm is different to what it is following this, and the sole real policeman are the countries of the region whose coalition has proved rational, realistic and logical. The ten-strong coalition does not seek wars as much as it aspires to achieving stability and security in the region by preventing foreign intervention in its internal affairs. Only Operation Decisive Storm will be there to carry out the tasks of the policeman in the Gulf, without allowing Iran to act so.

The biggest problem of the Barack Obama administration is its complete and deep faith that it is better equipped to solve the problems of the region even than its people themselves. This has been its attitude in dealing with the crises in south and Central America, Asia and all across the world. Over the past six years, the Obama administration has been working to entrench a single rule: That if you cannot solve the problem, contain it. It has approached the Iranian nuclear file and dealt with the Syrian crisis according to this rule. Containing the problem [rather than solving it] has been the main theme of the US foreign policy. Moreover, Washington has not even consulted with the countries of the region on its policy towards their own interests.

Many observers believe that Obama is well convinced with the idea that an alliance with Iran, a country which has an ancient imperial history, is more useful than allying with others, such as the Gulf or Arab countries. Obama is also of the opinion that the alliance with Shi’ites would be more effective than with those whom he refers to as “Sunni Arabs” in terms of making the nuclear deal work out. Obama is desperate to crown his two terms in office with a deal with Tehran. No one knows whether Obama and Iran has struck other deals whether in Syria or Iraq or, of course, in the Gulf where the Iranians are fighting for a future role. Obama believes that the alliance with Tehran will help solve the problems of the region. This is why he has been underestimating the threats that the Iranian influence to the security of the Gulf. Of course, Obama sees no problem in Iran’s expansionist ambitions as long as it agrees to submit to the West by suspending its nuclear program.

The theory of “interaction” followed and promoted by Obama is nothing more than an explosive pragmatism that exposes one’s policies and interests to danger; a ticking bomb that no one knows when or where it will go off. All that those who hold this theory know is that they are taking the wrong route towards their goal. It is true that Obama says his country will not lose anything from interacting with countries such as Iran but the true casualties would be the countries of the region. Whatever is the level of the threat Iran poses to the Gulf, the Obama administration will not see it, all with the aim of maintaining the success of its policy and the beliefs of its president. It is not unlikely that Obama’s claims to defend the interests of the Gulf against external aggression are mere slogans aimed at satisfying his allies. The interpretation of “defending” would depend on the success of the expected deal with Iran.

Washington’s defense of its own interests is well-understood. However, there are other obstacles hampering the success of Obama’s strategy which in theory contradicts the reality. How would the Gulf States overlook Iran’s occupation of the Emirati islands, Tehran’s interference in Bahrain or its proxy war in Yemen through the Houthis? This is not to mention Iran’s activities in other Arab countries to which the entire world is witness except the Obama administration who meanwhile is warning against “oppression” in the Gulf while turning a blind eye to it in Iran.

One of the most significant foundations of the historic alliance between the Gulf and Washington has been to stop Iran from using its aspirations to control the Gulf. Should Washington, even in an indirect manner, allow Tehran to exercise its will to expand its influence, the Gulf would be under no obligation to wait for the US to come to its rescue. Operation Decisive Storm has marked a political and military shift and it can compensate for the absence of the major powers from the Gulf as well as block Iran’s expansionist ambitions.