Insider news & Analysis in Iran

 In an article for Al Arabiya, Sawsan Al Shaer, Bahraini writer and journalist, writes about Michael Flynn, the newly appointed US National Security Advisor, who said on Thursday that the Trump administration was “officially putting Iran on notice.” 

After Flynn finished his press conference, Trump went on Twitter with his warning. 

This is the first demonstration of the new American policy toward Iran, and it was issued by Flynn, whose disagreement with the former Obama administration led to his resignation, some say dismissal, over his views on resolving the situation in Syria. 

Flynn previously spoke about the rise of al-Nusra Front and ISIS in Syria.  He called it out as not a coincidence or a mistake but “a willful decision by the Obama administration.”

American policy toward the region has shifted with the incoming administration. American news media say that Flynn has had strong influence on Trump since the beginning of his presidential campaign. 

In an interview, Flynn was once asked whether the Obama administration turned a blind eye to his analysis of military intelligence regarding the threat of the rise of terrorism in Syria. He answered, “I don’t know that they turned a blind eye. I think it was a willful decision.”

Sawsan Al Shaer writes, “This was our exact same opinion. Therefore, we agree here with this point in terms of a future American policy toward Iran in particular.”

In Flynn’s book, “The Field of Fight”, which was published in August 2016, he says that Iran established an alliance with al-Qaeda and the Lebanese party Hezbollah against their mutual enemy, the West, and particularly the United States. 

He affirmed that Iran participated in the explosions of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, although there is documentation saying that al-Qaeda carried them out. According to Flynn, the roots of this enmity are due to the nature of the Islamic Republic.

According to Flynn, Iran’s victory over the “Great Satan” (read, ‘the West’) in Iraq will force small countries in the Middle East to submit to Iranian policies and adopt hostile behavior toward the US and its allies. He believes that this can be achieved without the nuclear bomb, with which the West has become preoccupied.

“Isn’t this what we repeatedly said to all American officials who visited the region? All these warnings fell on deaf ears. General Flynn thinks that focusing on the nuclear cause is a serious mistake in the West’s strategic vision and that the major cause is the Iranian regime and its extremist concept of Islam,” writes Sawsan Al Shaer, adding, “Isn’t this what we’ve been saying for eight years but no one believes us? We thought the Americans were stupid or acting stupid due to their hesitant policy which ignored all these facts and indisputable evidence of Iran’s involvement in threatening mainly American interests and our interests in region. The Americans thus insisted that Iran’s ‘containment’ is possible.”

Sawsan Al Shaer goes on to ask several questions:

• How can one contain a country that exported more than 19,000 kilograms of weapons, ammunition and explosives to a country like Kuwait and insist to adopt a policy of “wisdom” with it although according to Kuwaiti National Security Bureau Chief Sheikh Thamer al-Ali there’s evidence that all these weapons and explosives came from Iran? This was the penalty of Kuwait which has been gentle with Iran so let alone what it did in Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq.

• How can you contain a country that exported thousands of tons of C-4 and TNT, the most dangerous of explosives, to Bahrain and trained and funded terrorist operations? Many still die as a result of these operations and most recently, lieutenant Hisham al-Hammadi fell a martyr after he was shot dead by a Kalashnikov.

• How can you contain a country which in August 2016 admitted through the Iranian official news agency (IRNA) that the missile which Houthi militias fired against Saudi territories was Zelzal-3, an Iranian-made missile? In May of last year, the American navy said it intercepted an Iranian ship in the Arab Sea and seized an arms shipment that was intended for the Houthis in Yemen.

These questions must be answered and the answers must be focus of Gulf foreign policy. Namely, how can we maximize benefit from this Gulf-American consensus regarding the issues linked to Iran, and how can we coordinate Flynn’s vision of radical Islamic terrorist groups, and the vision of the Gulf Cooperation Council in terms of joint cooperation.

A fair vision of radicalism is one that views all terrorist acts as “terrorism” whether they are enacted by Sunni or Shiite. “Wasn’t our problem with the former president, i.e. Obama, is that his administration’s vision on terrorism was not fair as they only saw terrorism when it was carried out by Sunni groups but turned a blind eye to it when it was carried out by Shiite ones?” asks Sawsan Al Shaer, as well as, “Didn’t we offer our help to fight al-Qaeda and ISIS and complain of deception and mysteriousness of the former American administration’s claims in this war to combat terrorism?” 

And now, Flynn confirms our worries and agrees. A Gulf-American consensus may achieve gains that will serve the region’s security and stability, and positively affect everyone’s interests.

 

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