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May 14 2019
The Iran threat hype is designed to work in America's favor
By Li Weijian

While it is accustomed to throw the U.S. element in the discussion of the Middle Eastern geopolitics, it is easy to forget that the two places are half the earth away with each other; yet the U.S. still has a persistent influence over this region, to the point where Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had to skip his planned stay in Russia to crash a security meeting in Brussels discussing how to ease tensions in the current escalating U.S.-Iran standoff.

Trump's bold move to pull out from the Iran nuclear deal already raised serious concerns over regional peace last year. But it has not gone this far when Trump stopped all waivers on sanctions against Iran's oil export and an updated military plan from a U.S. security meeting revealed that as many as 12,000 trooped could be sent to the Middle East should the level of hostility worsened.

Many worry that the deteriorating bilateral relations could lead to an inevitable war between the two countries. But according to Li Weijian, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and the vice president of the Chinese Association of Middle East Studies, the U.S. may have already learned that the benefit of the war is simply too insignificant compared with the cost from its past experience with Iraq. But the hype around Iran as the biggest regional threat, as Li points out, is designed to work in America's favor.

A collective enemy is always the best reason to forge an alliance. It worked perfectly with the establishment of NATO at the end of World War II, and Iran's potential threat should be also hopefully be conducive to the development of an "Arab NATO" in the Middle Eastern region.

First announced by Donald Trump during his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) - also known as the "Arab NATO" - is widely seen as America's effort to set up regional agents to project U.S. interests in the Middle East region while the country itself retreats from the region.  

Thus, it is understandable to see why Iran has been demonized as a malicious nuclear power by the U.S., which has even labeled Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group. Only if there is a regional power that is threatening enough will gulf countries align their interests with the U.S. without America itself paying for the work.

Besides, once the "Arab NATO" is forged, it will be even more convenient for the U.S. to secure more clients for its arms in the region. Last year, in an unusual move, Trump personally pressed Kuwait to seal a 10 billion U.S. dollar arm deal on behalf of the Boeing Co, another push for the "Buy American" initiative proposed by Trump.  

Another reason for America's Iran threat hype is that it could work as a distraction to Trump's much anticipated but continuously postponed Middle East plan, which reportedly will be consistent with Trump's pro-Israel policy since his taking office.

In fact, Trump has already taken some exploratory moves such as moving the U.S. embassy of Israel to Jerusalem and recognizing Golden Heights as Israeli territory. Making Iran the enemy of the Arab world could aid the U.S. in implementing its new Middle Eastern strategy.

It seems that the current state of U.S.-Iran relations have become Trump's bargaining chips, and not only in the Middle Eastern region. As Li notes, considering the importance of Iran's oil exports to the EU and China, it could use it as a leverage to gain more profits from its competition with both sides.

As Pompeo received cold shoulders in Brussels over the Iran issue, many wonder if the current escalation could be the ultimate split between the golden alliance. But Li argues their alliance is based on a shared value system rather than specific regional policy.

"But the foreign policy could be said as the reflection of one's value. So if the U.S. keeps pushing policy against EU's foreign policy approach and its belief, it could risk shaking the foundation of their alliance,” Li added.

Source of documents:CGTN.COM, May 14