The great game with Iran is the oldest and the most interesting example of the US exerting its dominance towards becoming not just energy independent, but also politically ubiquitous.
|Suggested Reading||Conflict Background||GCCT|
By Ashay Abbhi
Tehran has nearly conceded to become yet another US casualty in the Middle East. The latest developments in the US-Iran nuclear deal have kept skeptics wondering about a behind the scenes plot. Iran was the first to have blinked on its nuclear weapons and the question of sanctions. The blink, however, did not take long to turn back into the stare that it had maintained. Despite an agreement been reached, its execution is being fought over by both parties. While Iran says there will be no deal until sanctions are lifted, the US is adamant on unleashing Iran in a phased manner; which given Iran’s track record, some might argue, is the right way to approach the matter. Now, the bill is with the US Congress, which could potentially suffocate the deal.
Iran has long been the thorn in the US’ best laid plans. Al Khamenei has avoided any US dominance, but recent events have proved crippling, coercing Iran into accepting a nuclear deal. Sanctions were already severely detrimental to its economy, and falling oil and gas prices have nearly killed it. The conscious decision by the US and Saudi Arabia to not cut production despite floor-level prices, engineered exactly to this effect, has paid-off. If it wasn’t for low oil prices, perhaps the impasse with Tehran would have never been broken.
At the moment, there is much ego on both sides. Both want the upper hand, at least in political perception, when signing and executing the deal. Though Iran’s efforts at stalling may be commended for its bravado, it is common knowledge that Tehran agreed to the deal only after conceding defeat at the hands of the US.
The Obama administration has devised another strategy to force Iran into accepting its terms: the US Congress now has a bill, a decision on which is pending. Rouhani is clearly panicking about the move and has maintained that the US Congress is not a party they are dealing with. But with the danger of a cancelled deal looming over Iran’s dreams of living a sanction-free life, it might be forced into accepting the phased-lifting policy. Something is better than nothing, would be the world’s advice to Al Khamenei.
Yet another reason why the US would want a deal with Iran is the Islamic State of Iraq and Levantine. Iran has been working against the increasing influence of the organisation in Iraq, but it has also been a big factor in preventing the US from taking out the group. While Iranian forces have been countering the bloodshed in the country, they have also been indulging in Shia propaganda and helping new jihadist terror groups mushroom all around on the pretext of fighting ISIL.
US interests in Iraq are threatened by the growing influence of Iranian forces against ISIL. This has put Washington in a rather puzzling situation – supporting Iranian militia in its crusade against the ISIL will mean allowing Iranian influence in Iraq, and not acting against the ISIL would lead to more Charlie Hebdos and Jihadi Johns, who will continue terrorizing the world.
Iran’s authority in Yemen has also been a constant source of anxiety for the US. Saudi-led forces have been waging war in the country amid tough retaliation from the Houthi rebels, who have been backed by Iran for quite some time. Despite having officially declared its intention of not being involved militarily in Yemen, Iran has been smuggling caches of arms to the rebels to help their cause against the government.
With Yemen holding great importance for both sides in the cold war, the US found it to be the opportune moment to bring the nuclear deal out into the open, giving Iran yet another chance to absolve itself for its misgivings. The particular effect of this manoeuvre would come handy when the two sides will negotiate Yemen’s political seat.
Tehran is, at the moment, in a weak spot as far as negotiating the terms of the deal are concerned. Washington, on the other hand, could force Iran out of Yemen, marginalize it in Iraq without using a single bullet, and cut the nuclear arms deal, all on the basis of lifting the sanctions at once instead of the planned phasing out.
Knowing Iran, this deal may not exactly mean the country would become a political dummy of the US, but it is a start. Who is to say, with Iran surrounded by US allies on all sides, tomorrow Al Khamenei might be overthrown for a democratic pro-US government occupying Tehran. It might, at that moment, seem like an act of war-on-terror, but would only be a natural progression considering the US scheme of things. Chevron and ConocoPhilips might soon be working on the Pars Natural Gas field, and more energy-money would fill the coffers of the American treasury.
The great game with Iran is the oldest and the most interesting example of the US exerting its dominance towards becoming not just energy independent, but also politically ubiquitous. This is part of a hyperopic strategy, for when the oil and gas stocks in the world start dwindling we will all look towards the US as our sole saviour.
Ashay Abbhi is based out of India. An analyst in the field of contemporary energy issues, Ashay’s interests also lie in nuanced issues of war and conflict. With his specialisation in tow, Ashay has explored different angles of energy sector, one of which includes the comprehension of the geopolitics of energy.