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US “Position of Weakness” Blamed for Worsening Instability in Middle East

 

“Americans are begging us for a deal on the negotiating table,” Naghdi said, adding that the lead Iranian negotiator “frequently shouts” at his US counterparts. Persons who are skeptical about the negotiating process have expressed concerns that the Obama administration’s apparent eagerness exacerbates the Iranian regime’s intransigence and gives Iran the impression that it can continue drawing out negotiations and possibly obtain a deal without making any serious concessions.

Indeed, on Wednesday, Breitbart claimed that the latest proposal on the negotiating table involves the US giving up approximately 80 percent of its former demands, leaving Iran as a nuclear threshold state and an influential force in the region. The Free Beacon quotes Saeed Ghasseminejad of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies as saying, “Iran feels as long as the negotiation is going on, it has a green light to do whatever it wants in the region, so why should they bother to sign a deal?”

Other commentators on the process have explicitly outlined what they think the consequences may be of Iran doing “whatever it wants in the region.” For instance, according to the Washington Times, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently described the prospective nuclear deal as the “mistake of a lifetime” for the Obama administration, owing to its likely failure to stop Iran’s weapons build-up, regional intrusions, and nuclear advancement.

Graham suggested that the conclusion of the negotiating process threatens to “unleash hell on the Middle East” and kick off a nuclear arms race in the region. It is a view that is certainly compatible with those expressed in a Reuters blog post on Thursday, which observed that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would provide a tremendous deterrent against the threat currently posed by the air power of its regional adversaries, particularly Arab kingdoms including Saudi Arabia.

In the view of the post’s author, Anthony H. Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the widespread focus on the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to the state of Israel is a distraction from the wider situation and from Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, which are much more direct threats to Western interests in the Middle East.

Cordesman notes that Iran benefits greatly by amplifying tensions between sectarian and political entities in the region, in that this gives Iran a foothold for its influence while also limiting the ability of regional adversaries to confront and deter the Islamic Republic. He projects that Iran’s contribution to regional instability will continue as long as Tehran remains unconstrained, and especially if it obtains the nuclear weapons that would make the other nations of the world think twice before confronting it themselves.

Although the threat of escalating sectarian tensions is certainly dangerous to Western interests, it also increases the chances of new threats to Iran emerging near or within its borders. The International Business Times reported on Thursday that Iran was tightening security on its eastern borders amidst threats that an off-shoot or copycat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant might be emerging there.

Such reports raise expectations among Iran’s opponents that whereas its regional expansionism has led to the proliferation of new threats, those same factors may cause Iran to become militarily overextended amidst a war on multiple fronts.