An Iran expert delves into the regional politics and Washington’s foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as Israeli’s depleting power.
The Israeli regime’s power stems solely from western support, namely, the United States, the European Union, and other NATO allies, an expert told Doha News, noting its military might is on the decline.
“The fortunes of the west continue to decline for different reasons, such as the relative declining economic situation in the US ongoing for decades and also the perpetual wars that we’ve been seeing over the last couple of decades, and now the crisis in Europe and the tensions with China,” Seyed Mohammad Marandi, a professor at the University of Tehran and adviser to Iranian negotiating team told Doha News on Sunday.
The aforementioned issues are further adding to the decline of western power Marandi suggested.
“The US isn’t the power today that it was in the past and in future I assume it will become increasingly weaker, relatively speaking,” Marandi said, adding that this is further evident in the case of European countries.
The decline of the European countries, according to Marandi, is further fuelled by the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
“Since these [western nations] are sources of power for the Israeli regime, those forces no longer have the capability that they did in the past to sustain the regime.”
While support for the occupying state of Israel will not be abandoned by said countries, the former will decline along with the fortunes of Western powers, Marandi told Doha News on the sidelines of an event organised by the Middle East Council on Global Affairs in Qatar.
On a regional level, Tehran views the independent decision making of countries and leaders as a significant stepping stone in moving towards geopolitics with less reliance on foreign intervention.
“The United States for a very long period of time had overwhelming power and therefore in many parts of the world it was able to dictate terms.
“Now the United States is on the decline therefore that provides an opportunity for an increasingly large number of countries to make their own decisions, whether they’re good decisions or bad decisions is another thing but at least they have the ability to make those choices,” the expert noted.
The region will witness nations pursuing their own interest with “greater vigour” without the United States interfering, according to Marandi, adding that those interests include peaceful coexistence as it further cultivates better standards of living.
Due to Washington’s strategic agenda, however, its self interest supersedes that of the countries in the region residing “under US hegemonic rule.”
Narrowing in, Marandi described Qatar’s role in the nuclear talks as “positive” adding that the Gulf country has “played a very important role in trying to create greater multilateral convergence in the region.”
“The Iranian-Qatari relations have always been very good and I think they’ve been particularly good after the blockade,” Marandi told Doha News.
The expansion of economic and political ties between Doha and Tehran, particularly in the post 2017 blockade context was set in motion as an illegal land, air and sea blockade was imposed on Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt over accusations that the Gulf state supports terrorism. Doha has vehemently and consistently denied those allegations.
The blockading quartet at the time said action taken against Doha was due to its ‘close’ relations with Iran and Turkey, both of which have had their own political rivalries with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
During the blockade, Iran opened its airspace to Qatari flights, following airspace closures, on top of sending multiple planeloads of food to the Gulf country.
Separately, economic ties between Qatar and Iran see themselves further enhanced as the Gulf state issued a permit in June for Tehran to launch a major trade centre in its capital.
The trade centre is meant to provide opportunities for the country’s traders and support private businesses in the Gulf nation.
“So while I think that there is a lot more that Iran and Qatar could do with regards to politics, economics, culture […] I think that the potential is very good because the two sides, Tehran and Doha have good intentions towards one another,” Marandi said.
As part of its latest unofficial mediation efforts between Tehran and Washington, Qatar helped lift the travel ban on American-Iranian citizen Baquer Namazi in Iran on Saturday to allow him to receive medical treatment.
Iran had imposed a travel ban on Namazi, 85, after detaining him in 2016 when he travelled to Tehran in an effort to release his son Siamak, arrested in October 2015.
Both the father and the son received a 10-year prison sentence in 2016 and were convicted of espionage.
“We had a deal a long time ago with regards to the prisoner swap but the Americans were holding back and now that Americans have finally agreed to go along with this exchange,” Marandi told Doha News.
Describing the move as “positive,” Marandi said this step “may” potentially create a better environment for the JCPOA, however “of course that’s unclear at this stage.”
“The differences between Iran and the US over the re-implementation of the JCPOA is linked to a number of words,” Marandi explained, adding that it is rather a legal issue.
“The Americans want to intentionally keep the deal or the text vague so that they could have loopholes to use later on and the Iranians based on their very bad history that they have with the US and the way in which it behaved towards the JCPOA, the Iranians want a very air-tight deal.”
The element of trust – or lack thereof – is seen as a “key point” in the nuclear talks, Marandi said.
“This is the heart of the problem. In 2015 when we were negotiating the JCPOA, the Iranian leadership, the president, the foreign minister the speaker of parliament, all of them spoke about Iran-US relations repeatedly.”
Highlighting Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei statement that came out at the time, Marandi said: “He said something very important and that was ‘if the United States implements the deal in good faith, then we can start talking about other issues’ but at that time he [Ayatollah Khamenei] also added that ‘I’m skeptical’.
According to Marandi, Washington lost that opportunity as it was seen as a “green light” since the Iranian leader inferred that so long as the US fulfils its promises and commitments and demonstrates trusting nature, Iran is willing to “talk about other issues.”
“Now the US has that opportunity again, if they want to revive the JCPOA they have to accept a deal that is air tight because the Iranians have concerns,” Marandi told Doha News.
Should the US commit to its side of the JCPOA, based on what the Iranian supreme leader said in 2015, “yes there are enormous opportunities that can be pursued,” Marandi claimed.
“Am I optimistic? at the moment, I’m not but that doesn’t mean we should discount the possibility.”