A third Gulf War?

Jawad Anani.pg
Jawad Anani is an economist and has held several ministerial posts, including former deputy prime minister and former chief of the Royal Court. (Photo: Jordan News)
On December 2, Thomas Friedman, a New York Times op-ed columnist, wrote an article criticizing former US president Donald Trump’s Iran policy which, Friedman believes, has become a disaster for the US and Israel. The article, published in the Baltimore Sun, purports that the Israeli minister of defense who served under Netanyahu in 2018, when the US withdrew from the agreement, said “ … as bad as that deal was Trump’s decision to withdraw from it — with Mr. Netanyahu’s encouragement — was even worse”.اضافة اعلان

(Photo: NYTimes/Jordan News)

President Joe Biden, as his friendly critics confess, also made a mistake by not taking a decision in his first week in office to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal arrived at in the sunset hours of the Obama administration.

Now the negotiations have resumed despite the obstacles and fiery language of all participants. Both Biden and his Secretary of State Anthony Blinken are adamant against reversing the blockade and boycott imposed on Iran and its top leaders.

The US also wants Iran to commit to a regional behavior that would not threaten its allies, mainly Israel and the GCC.

Naftali Bennett’s government in Israel is lobbying for a decisive military action, focused on a blanket bombing of Iran’s strategic infrastructure, utilities and nuclear centers, using hi-tech missiles which would wreak havoc on Iran.

US’ European negotiation partners are trying to appease their American allies, but they also want negotiations to go on. Europeans nudge, the US shoves and Israel is crying “attack”. Meanwhile, GCC allies want Iran to respect the integrity of their countries as well as that of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, but hopefully through negotiations. Any massive war would stifle Iran in the short-run, but would create ever-lasting animosity between Iranians and Arabs. This is the worst possible scenario.

These complex positions are further aggravated by the heated cold-war aberrations and military movements in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Russia, and in the Pacific arena. The news that 13 supersonic Chinese military jets had flown over Taiwan 10 days ago is one recent Chinese muscle-flexing moves.

Is the widening of the struggle zones a stab at resolving all the outstanding disputes among the superpowers of the world? No. The parties are just using more cards to confuse other players and distract their attention. All the Brobdingnags of the world (Jonathan Swift’s country of giants) are engaged in a dangerous but ridiculous game. None of them seriously wants to go to war, but the possibility of Russia and the US inadvertently agreeing to hit Iran is still possible.

A coalition to wage a limited war against Iran is there, no denial. Yet, those who start it should know how to end it. It is doubtful that they would.

The best scenario out of this mess is to widen the negotiation venues. Doha and Amman could be very convenient places where Gulf States and Iran could work to iron out their nagging differences. These negotiations could go in tandem with the Vienna negotiations. This is the scenario most likely to bear fruits.

Saber-rattling to satisfy some Israeli generals will only lead to a disaster, even for the Israelis themselves, as Friedman would say.

Jawad Anani is an economist and has held several ministerial posts, including former deputy prime minister and former chief of the Royal Court.

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