As the war of words continues to escalate in the Middle East between rival global and regional powers, the simmering tensions between the U.S., its staunchest allies Israel and Saudi Arabia, and Iran, which has grown to be increasingly influential and prestigious as a trustworthy power broker in the Middle East have come to the forefront and threatens to rip apart the only foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration, the Iran nuclear deal. Moreover, even before he was elected, President Donald Trump expressed his disapproval with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) involving six signatories that agreed to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions and has vowed to scrap the unpopular deal, even as all branches of the U.S. government have grudgingly admitted that Iran is in full compliance with the terms of the agreement. Meanwhile, the European Union and Russia have reiterated their wish for all relevant countries to abide by the deal as the only means of preserving the fragile geostrategic stability.
However, despite this consensus, the perennially anti-Iranian U.S. government, augmented by its powerful Israeli-Saudi lobbies, is still convinced that Iran is an incorrigible foe and geopolitical menace and has continued to place unilateral sanctions on the Islamic Republic. These sanctions are in contravention of the agreement under the pretext that its legitimate missile programs and false status as the world’s biggest “state sponsor of terrorism” presents a threat. These repeated acts of belligerence have triggered a defiant response from Iran, especially from moderate reform minded President Hassan Rouhani. President Rouhani has stated, unequivocally, that if America continues to place hostile sanctions on the country, Iran would be prepared to respond “within hours – to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations.” He also alluded to the fact that under the Trump administration, the U.S. has failed to honour many internationals agreements and has, therefore, damaged its credibility as a partner, in the case of the nuclear deal, the Paris Climate Accord, and Cuba Accord.
Thus, in view of these realities, which look like a short-sighted attempt by America to sabotage the nuclear deal and elicit an Iranian response, the Iranian Parliament has implemented its own symmetrical measures against American entities, individuals, and terrorist groups that it believes are supported by the U.S. Reacting to all encompassing U.S. sanctions against Washington’s new ‘Axis of Evil’ Russia-Iran-North Korea, Iran’s Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to increase spending ($540 million) on its elite Revolutionary Guards and its ballistic missile program. In a show of solidarity, Russia, another affected country by U.S. sanctions, agreed to step up military-technological cooperation through more bilateral defence contracts. Meanwhile, a daunting prospect that could reignite an arms race, is if North Korea, in another attempt to yank America’s chains, decides to sell its ballistic and nuclear technology to Iran.
With that said, anti-American sentiments have cut deep into the very fabric of Iranian society, particularly since the CIA engineered a coup against progressive Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953 and the unleashing of, at that time, America’s asset, Sadaam Hussein, on Iran. During the Iran-Iraq war, Washington supported Iraq with monetary assistance, weaponry, intelligence, and provided materials found by UN experts in the fragments of chemical weapons used by the Iraqi army.
Yet, despite all of these worrying developments, Iran is not as isolated as it once was, but has proven itself to be a regional power in the Middle East with increased economic and bilateral ties with Turkey, China, Russia, Qatar, and the E.U. Its influence has also been felt in Syria and Iraq. For this reason, it may be very difficult for the U.S. to manipulate international opinion into accepting debilitating sanctions or a pre-emptive war on Iran.