It is an old saying that,”one who tries to please all, pleases none” and this is the inherent flaw in U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the Middle East. U.S. is desperately trying to defuse the explosive situation in the region and is falling short of achieving its elusive goals of establishing lasting peace and stability in the region. In its quest to achieve its objectives U.S. is alienating its staunch and time-tested allies in the region while it fosters new friendships.
Many find the policy of U.S. concerning Iran utterly baffling, especially the complete u-turn U.S. has taken; only a year ago U.S. was thinking of invading the country, at present, it is desperately trying to appease. This change of policy is prompted by the fact that Iran is the lone stable Shia power in the region, therefore, a strategic obstacle in the way of the pro-Al-Qaeda Sunni militants, who at present threaten to over-run the region.
The Joint Action Plan or the Geneva accord between Iran and P5+1 powers ( U.S., Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) signed at Geneva in November 2013 was a move in this direction. According to the terms of this six month interim accord U.S. has in a way turned a blind eye to Iranian nuclear ambition in order to secure its support in the war ravaged Syria and Iraq. The Joint Action Plan ensures that the international sanctions against Iran are partially lifted and at the same time nothing substantial is gained as far as stopping its nuclear program is concerned. According to the defense analysts even after signing the Geneva accord Iran has not stopped enriching uranium at it nuclear facilities, instead, it has made marked progress in its ballistic missile and liquid fueled rocket technology. This accord has alienated both Israel and Saudi Arabia and is the inherent flaw in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
It is clear that Saudi Arabia, perhaps the oldest U.S. ally in the region is actively supporting the pro-Al-Qaeda Sunni militants in Iraq. The U.S. sponsored Shia government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is fighting a war for survival against the resurgent Sunni militias. The same is the case with the Shia government of Bashaar al-Assad in Syria; he too is fighting a civil war for his regime’s survival. The enemy in both these instances is the Saudi Arabia backed Sunni militants. In such a scenario U.S. is left with no other option but to seek out the help of Iran in the Middle East.
According to the political analysts the American foreign policy is inherently flawed because on the one hand, the Obama administration is trying to appease Iran and on the other, the U.S. Senate and Congress are threatening to put additional sanctions in place vis-à-vis Iran.
The U.S., it appears, is in a catch 22 position. They need Iran but they also can’t annoy their trusted allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Now the U.S. and especially the department of state is occupied in a tough balancing act in the region. One false move and the whole house of cards will fall, therefore U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is flawed.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada