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Understanding power dynamics: The U.S.-Iran relationship

By : Dr. Munther Hawarat

Jordan Daily – The United States is currently engaged in a whirlwind of diplomatic activity, forging alliances in various corners of the world. Its primary focus, however, seems to be on the emerging conflict zone in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, notably the South China Sea. In addition to its long-standing partnership with NATO, the U.S. has established the AUKUS alliance with Britain and Australia.

Notably, it’s also in talks with former rivals Japan and South Korea, aiming to lay the foundation for a strategic alliance that could pave the way for an Asian version of NATO. This extensive outreach forms part of a broader strategy to maintain dominance in the Pacific and control critical chokepoints like the Strait of Malacca, which separates the world’s oil lifeline, the Arabian Gulf, from the global powerhouse, China.

However, there is a critical flaw in this American plan, one that could disrupt its designs on the Pacific. China has been steadily working on an alternate supply route for oil, one that bypasses American-controlled global straits. The Belt and Road Initiative is central to this endeavor. Key to this strategy is the port and corridor of Gwadar, which begins in Iran, traverses Pakistan, and facilitates the flow of oil towards China while enabling the movement of goods in the opposite direction. This development presents a significant challenge to America’s efforts to control China’s economic engine – oil. Consequently, securing Iran’s cooperation becomes a strategic necessity for the United States in the near future.

The history of U.S.-Iran relations is a rollercoaster ride, swinging from overthrowing the regime to changing its behavior and, eventually, to coexistence, symbolized by the nuclear agreement. Current geopolitical shifts and America’s strategic interests make it prudent to consider whether this hostility might evolve into cooperation.

Notably, despite periods of tension, the United States and Iran have found themselves on the same side in several critical moments, from the liberation of Kuwait to the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. Moreover, the war on terrorism saw unprecedented coordination between the two nations. Hence, collaboration, even if episodic, is not inconceivable. Moreover, the relentless sanctions have not crippled Iran; instead, they have fortified its resilience, transforming it into a regional power that can’t be sidelined.

Iran possesses well-established diplomatic machinery and strategic acumen. Therefore, should the U.S. seek to pivot towards cooperation, Iran is likely to engage masterfully in negotiations, extracting favorable terms that align with its own national interests.

Indications suggest that the United States may be contemplating a comprehensive security strategy for the region that involves Iran. To further its long-term strategic objective of countering China’s ascent, it might consider concessions in the Gulf region. While containing China’s growth might appear Herculean, constraining its international partners remains a viable goal, albeit a challenging one. The existential struggle between the United States and China necessitates such measures.

The stance of Arab nations and Israel regarding potential rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran is a complex matter deserving of separate analysis. However, the emerging geopolitical landscape suggests that the U.S. must navigate the shifting sands of international relations adeptly, with Iran potentially playing a pivotal role in the grand chessboard of global politics.

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