Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 26 August 2019

Iran’s delusions of power have landed it in trouble

Iran's recent successes on the world stage are giving it the delusion of power, writes Faisal Al Qassem. Other views: Moscow is playing broker in Syria (Abdel Bari Atwan) and the US and Israel will never find a good time to make peace with the Palestinians (Mostafa Al Zein)

The condescension and infatuation with power that have gripped Iran following recent major geopolitical achievements are starting to take their toll on the country, wrote Faisal Al Qassem in yesterday’s edition of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

After imposing itself as a key power in the region and further afield, Iran has been carried away with haughtiness causing it to act more like a bull fighter than a chess player, the writer said.

Now Iran has begun to suffer significant losses in countries where it used to have great influence: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, according to the writer.

In Lebanon, Iran has lost a great deal since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution. Before that, Hizbollah was its greatest asset in the Middle East. The movement enjoyed huge popular support for standing up to Israel and pictures of its leader Hassan Nasrallah were raised in most Arab and Islamic nations.

No longer. When Iran pushed Hizbollah into the Syrian conflict to take part in quelling a legitimate popular uprising, it was shooting itself in the foot. Hizbollah rapidly turned from a resistance movement into a “hired killer” and a “sectarian pawn” in the eyes of many people.

Not only that. Many forces in the region began to create groups to fight Hizbollah, with bombings targeting the movement’s strongholds, amid signs of more radical anti-Iranian groups to emerge, particularly in Lebanon.

Today, most Syrians regard Iran and Hizbollah as a hateful sectarian enemy after they engaged in the Syrian conflict on sectarian grounds.

After the Syrian uprising, Iran’s grip has been greatly loosened in Syria due to its arrogance and delusions of power, after Iran’s supreme leader elected to respond to the popular uprising with brutal crackdown and sided with his Syrian ally to suppress the revolution.

Realising how badly mired in the Syrian quagmire it has been, Tehran rushed to summon every Shiite militia at hand to save its worsening situation there.

Moreover, Iran has recently sought to encourage many countries in the region to find a way out of the mess in Syria, which has done a great deal of harm to its regional status.

Iran’s image in Palestine is no better and even Hamas adopts a completely different stance on the Syrian conflict, which is a further blow to Iran.

In Iraq, it is even worse. Tehran’s sectarian policies in Iraq have failed to take over the country, while Iran has become an archenemy for Iraq’s Sunnis, with Al Anbar uprising seen as a response to Iran’s goals in Iraq. Iran’s patrons in Iraq are in a terrible bind, with bombings becoming a daily routine.

Iran’s shrinking influence extends beyond the Arab world. With the Taliban back in Afghanistan, Iran will also face some serious problems.

Three ‘foxes’ plan to prolong Syrian regime

Over the past two days, Moscow has turned into a destination for those involved in efforts to find a political settlement to the Syrian conflict, wrote Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of the news website Rai Al Youm.

Foreign Ministers of Syria and Iran flew to Moscow for closed-door talks with their Russian counterpart to coordinate stances. The decisions taken at meetings of these three “foxes”, who are described as cunning in crisis management – or at least those between the duo Mr Al Moualem and Mr Lavrov – usually result in game-changing actions.

The previous meeting held in Moscow between that duo prevented a US attack on Syria after the latter agreed to destroy its chemical arsenal, he said.

Mr Al Moualem said on Friday that he presented his Russian counterpart with a plan to secure a ceasefire and prisoner exchange in Aleppo.

For the first time in the conflict, the Moscow meeting brought a mutual recognition between the regime and the opposition, and laid the foundations of a prisoner exchange. Aleppo will be the test and other cities will follow, which practically means the regime will last for two years at least, during which many surprises can happen, Atwan said.

The Syrian regime clearly bets on time to win the conflict, especially after US and Russia have agreed that fighting radical groups is the priority, not toppling the regime.

Palestinians offered little for surrender

There is an Israeli-US agreement that the time has never perfect to achieve a breakthrough in the political process with Palestinians who are divided at home and neglected in the region, columnist Mostafa Al Zein said in the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.

At home, Palestinians are deeply split between the Ramallah authority and the government of Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, Arab regimes are busy facing the rebels and the malcontents. The Palestinian cause is no longer a common denominator for them.

Syria, which used to raise slogans against Israel in support Palestine, has been destroyed, denying Iran its most important ally in the region, while the other ally Hizbollah is in peril in Lebanon and the region, he remarked.

Near Palestine, Egypt is absorbed in domestic woes. Plus it cannot change its policy even if it is willing, being bound by the Camp David Accords, US alliance and its dependence on aid. Jordan is concerned with maintaining the domestic balance between Palestinians and the other tribes and loyalties, and it’s also bound by a peace treaty with Israel.

The US and Israel agree that the time is perfect for a deal that gives Palestinians a small thing in return for their surrender. But Israel insists on Jewish state recognition and giving up the right of return, the writer said.

* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni

AEzzouitni@thenational.ae

Updated: January 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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