UAE Journalist: The only option for countries in the region to counter the Iranian threat is a regional defense pact and closer ties with Israel and Turkey

In an article published on June 25, 2022 on Elaph.com, Emirati political analyst and commentator Salem Al-Ketbi questions the options available to countries in the region to deal with the Iranian threat, given that ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West in Vienna are “almost clinically dead”, and also given the fact that in recent years Iran has come close to building a nuclear bomb and expanding its arsenal of weapons and drones.

Noting that reality has proven the ineffectiveness of economic, political or diplomatic pressure on Iran, Al-Ketbi said that European countries, which are interested in cooperation with Iran, are unlikely to allow such pressure, and the same goes for Russia and China, Iran’s ally. He adds that the United States will also not be in a hurry to exert pressure against Iran, either because of the approach of the midterm elections in Congress or for fear that such a decision could encourages the establishment of an Iran-Russia-China alliance. The military option is an effective way to eliminate the Iranian regime, he said, but the chances of the United States pursuing this option are slim. He thus concludes that the only option left to the countries of the region is “to establish a network of defensive alliances” to deter Iran and defend any country it threatens. He adds that the Gulf states have no choice but to strengthen their ties with Israel and Turkey.

It should be noted that the article was published against the background of reports that during his next visit to Saudi Arabia in mid-July, US President Joe Biden will discuss with Arab leaders the option of forming a regional military alliance against Iran.

Salam Al-Katbi. Source: Middle-east-online.com.

Here are translated excerpts from Al-Ketbi’s article.[1]

“Discussion on Iran’s nuclear dossier is back to square one [one] from before 2015 [JCPOA nuclear agreement], with considerable differences – all of which serve Iran’s interests. The first of these differences is Iran’s exploitation of the nuclear agreement it signed with the 5+1 group, which served as a cover and gave international legitimacy to its nuclear activity in the years [since the agreement] – to the point of approaching the level of uranium enrichment required for a nuclear bomb. This is in addition to [Iran’s] development of its ballistic missile project capable of striking neighboring countries in the Middle East and [even] reach Eastern and Central Europe. Another one [of these differences] is Iran’s expansion of its influence – including building and establishing a network of regional operatives who have the power to wreak havoc in various parts of the Middle East – to the point where this influence is become an important card for Iran [to play] in its negotiations with regional and international powers. A third [difference] is today [Iran] has an arsenal of conventional weapons, including drones, which play a central role in its ability to threaten the security of countries in the region, as well as American strategic interests.

“In light of the rekindled tensions between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] and the signs of failure hovering over the [current nuclear] From the Vienna talks – which seem to be in a state of clinical death – this most troubling question arises: what options do the countries of the regions have if the American scenario of controlling the Iranian nuclear and missile threat fails?

“What is certain is that the countries of the region have already prepared for the scenario of a relaunch of the nuclear agreement, through an attempt to build bridges with Iran and to open communication channels with him. But the picture can change a little bit [now]in light of signs that efforts to renew the deal are failing – especially as the Ukraine crisis has created new strategic variables that are pushing Iran into rigidity regionally and internationally.

“Reality teaches us that the economic, political and diplomatic pressures on Iran do not yield the expected result, either because Europe will not support such a scenario due to its thirst for energy and its desire to reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas, either because every US pressure campaign against Iran will not only meet Iranian challenge, but will also meet Chinese and Russian opposition. Even the US administration itself cannot take the risk of take reckless action against Iran, in light of the approaching midterm parliamentary elections.

“In my view, the Biden administration will not easily give up hope of renewing the nuclear deal, or even striking a new deal with Iran. It’s not just because most Western circles doubt that It is possible to deter the Iranian nuclear threat without an agreement, but also because the United States does not want things to evolve towards the establishment of a China-Russia-Iran alliance. of the stakes and the reciprocal influence between them, the assessment of the events in Ukraine will have certain ramifications on other strategic questions, at the head of which the Iranian question, in the sense that both a Russian victory and a [Russian] defeat and any form of retreat will spur US efforts to tighten the noose on Iran and stop China. The reverse is also true – [a Russian victory] will make Iran a worse problem for US foreign policy, because it will be difficult to talk about the effectiveness of sanctions, either because of the mutual support between China, Russia and Iran, or because of the shortcomings of the sanctions on the sale of Iranian oil that jeopardize their implementation and provide the Iranian regime with income that allows it to continue to support [its] militias [outside its borders] and to develop its armament capacity.

“There is no doubt that any alternative to the fight against the Iranian threat will only succeed if the Iranian regime feels it is in danger of collapse, either through a direct military blow against it or a blow that will contribute to weakening its status and [lead] to his downfall by the people. Since the chances of the United States delivering such a blow, or even threatening to do so, are slim, only the diplomatic option remains, although the chances of its success are [also] thin because it has no teeth and no other leverage that can increase the likelihood of it being accepted.

“To return to the fundamental question of the options available to the countries of the region, it can be said that the tendencies of the Iranian regime do not allow an objective observer to draw up a reasonable appreciation of the probability of arriving at solutions and arrangements to ease tensions in the region, because Iran is a major player in the region, but also because it has a strong desire for hegemony [there] and to bring every regime in the region under his control and act according to his whims…

“As a result, the establishment of a network of defensive alliances between the countries of the region, to compensate for the diminishing interest of the United States in the security and stability of the region, would be the most reasonable option and the most realistic way to deal with any threat against these countries.This way, there will be a collective ability to deter the threat and provide sufficient protection to any of the countries in case of danger.

“Furthermore, it is certain that the new strategic reality in the region and in the world must be taken into account and strategies must be developed accordingly. Therefore, the Gulf [states’] Closer reciprocal ties with Israel and Turkey, as well as with other countries in the region, will embody an essential and unavoidable approach. Likewise, it is necessary to maintain the difficult balance [in our relations] with the United States and its allies on the one hand and with Russia and China on the other, because any alternative to this serves Iran and limits the ability of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to have an impact on the events around them”.


[1] Elaph.com, June 25, 2022.

Valerie J. Wallis