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High Noon in the Middle East. The Danger of a major Middle East confligration if the Vienna Talks on the JCPOA (Iran Nuclear Deal) Fail. KGNU Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues. April 27, 2021. Transcript. Part One

April 29, 2021
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zari. China And Iran Approach Massive $400 Billion Deal

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(Note: Part One goes approximately 14 minutes and 30 seconds into the program. The entire audio is above)

On foreign policy, from what we can tell, the Administration is in trouble in a lot of its international relations. One of the areas where it definitely is in trouble is the Middle East. And in fact what we’ve title this particular program – High Noon in the Middle East – is just one manifestation of the Biden Administration’s overall foreign policy crisis. Rob Prince

After the rhetoric of the election, if President Biden would have immediately jumped on the bandwagon and removed the sanctions against Iran, he would not have found himself pushed into a corner where now he has to play to Iran’s tune. It was embarrassing for the United States when three weeks ago when the Vienna negotiations started, Iran made it conditional that their representatives will attend the negotiations and participate in the discussions (around the U.S. returning to the JCPOA) only if the U.S. flag was removed from the hall. Ibrahim Kazerooni

Jim Nelson: Good evening and thanks tuning into Hemispheres. I’m your host Jim Nelson. Thanks for tuning in to listener sponsored community radio, KGNU Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins and also kgnu.org online.

This evening on Hemispheres we’re going to continue the Middle East Dialogues. As always joining me in these dialogues are Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

Ibrahim Kazerooni is a regular contributor to (KGNU’s) International Press Roundtable. He has a phd in Religio and Social Change from the Joint Iliff School of Theology – University of Denver Korbel School of International Affairs – joint phd program. He is an imam of the Islamic Center of America, in Dearborn Michigan. He joins us from there.

Good evening Ibrahim

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Good evening Jim, good evening Rob, good evening to our listeners.

Jim Nelson: Also joining me on the phone and Ibrahim as a commentator is Rob Prince.

Rob is a retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. He has been published at on-line magazines such as Foreign Policy in Focus, AlgeriaWatch and the award winning Tunisian website, Nawaat.org, a Tunisian human rights publication.

Good evening to you, Rob

Rob Prince: Good evening Jim, good evening Ibrahim, good evening to our listeners.

Jim Nelson: This evening’s program comes the day before President Biden gives his speech before a joint session of Congress, similar to a State of the Union address. From the news reports, it is likely that President Biden will be emphasizing his successes in these first one hundred days of his time in office as president.

He’ll be focusing on his domestic achievements, the COVID-19 vaccine roll out which has been fairly successful; but in this evening’s program we’re going to focusing on Biden’s foreign policy, especially as it concerns the Middle East, through the lens of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known more colloquially as the Iran Nuclear Deal. A meeting in Vienna is taking place, the results of which will have profound implications for the future of the region.

One of the most recent U.S. policy shifts took place a few days ago when the Biden Administration formally recognized the fate of the Armenians in the early 20th century as being a clear cut example of genocide – which Turkey still denies.

When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, my reading is that it hasn’t changed much from the Trump years. The rhetoric has been toned down but the content remains essentially the same.

With that gentlemen, I’ll turn it over to you.

Rob Prince: Thanks for the introduction Jim. Yes, it will be interesting to hear what President Biden says tomorrow.

Generally speaking there is a kind of a disconnect in this administration’s approach between domestic and foreign policy. Foreign policy seems to be on the back burner.

On foreign policy, from what we can tell, the Administration is in trouble in a lot of its international relations. One of the areas where this is unmistakable the case is the Middle East. And in fact what we’ve title this particular program – High Noon in the Middle East – is just one manifestation of the Biden Administration’s overall foreign policy crisis.

There is a new reality – a new geopolitical dynamic in the Middle East that has come into being. It touches every country in the region and also the dominant players globally – the USA, China, Russia.

The region is heating up. It’s long been tense, but now the tensions have reached historic levels. In fact, one could speak today of the region beling something of a powder keg ready to explode with consequences no one can predict.

This might sound like some kind of an exaggeration – I assure you that it’s not that at all. We’re at a juncture in the juncture in the road, a moment when the paths toward peace or war, as we see it, literarlly hang in the balance.

So new geopolitical dynamics are in the making… Ibrahim, what is the the old geopolitical reality that is eroding and the new geopolitical dyanmic in the region that Washington can’t seem to understand or respond to with any vision or program?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Thank you Rob.

I think, going back to the question that you posed, one has to understand that the old geopolitics is centered on the United States in Washington and with its European allies.
In a nutshell it was driven by, manipulated, controlled by Washington and to a degree by its Western allies.

Unfortunately for the United States, the new geopolitical dynamic reality – the epicenter of this is not going to be Washington. The major players here (in the Middle East) are going to be the Chinese and the Russians globally with Iran becoming the major center of political, socio-economic developments in the Middle East where Iranian influence will be unpacked to the detriment of those who remain within the U.S. camp and to the benefit of those who say “au revoir” to the U.S. camp and move away from it, understanding the reality on the ground.

I would like to remind everyone that during last week two secret meetings took place between the Saudi secret service and intelligence bureau and the Iranian one in Baghdad. During the past ten years or two decades, no one could have envisaged that the Saudi secretly meet with Iran because now they understand the reality of how the Middle East is changing.

The old dynamic is falling apart; a new dynamic is being shaped. The major regional player in the new dynamic is gong to be Iran and everyone – the rest of the entire region – will be affected by this new dynamic. Even the Israelis have made a few comments to indicate that now the ball is dropping.

The answer to your question regarding the old and new dynamic is that the center is no longer in Washington.

Unfortunately for the United States, the success, the strength of Iran in the region is going to have repercussions on what we have repeatedly talked about (in previous programs) – the Axis of Resistance which will be emboldened. In a number of countries, they are not prepared to accept the New Order which Washington is trying to impose on the region and together they are carefully watching U.S. moves in the region. The countries involved are Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen – even in Afghanistan these days. There are elements among the Taliban that are becoming increasingly critical of the United States and looking for the possibilities of collaboration with other regional players.

The fact that all the efforts during the past ten or twenty years taken by the United States to marginalize Iran – and specifically during the past ten years – also to overthrow Assad (in Syria) – unfortunately for the United States, these efforts have not worked. Assad’s popularity is growing. An election will soon take place in Syria. On paper there are two or four people in competition for the presidency standing against Bashar al Assad, but the popularity that Bashar has gained as a liberator against the U.S. orchestrated invasion of other regional players, mercenaries has given him a 60% level of popularity among Syrian voters at the moment.

Chinese and the Russian support has emboldened Iran, particularly the more hard-line elements within the government, against Washington. The Israeli-Iran tensions, competition has heated up to great degree with a tit for tat from both parties. The Russians have come in, because they need to protect Syria – Syrian oil, wheat and grain – so they have offered to protect Iranian ships going through the Suez Canal from Iran to Syrian ports on the Eastern Mediterranean against Israeli attacks.

The increasingly deep sense of patriotism in Iran certainly is going to move towards the country to a more hardline position visavis the United States as a result of the upcoming election. I think it would be a miracle if the so-called liberals, moderates in Iran were to win anything. The conservatives are going to win a majority in the Iranian parliament and they really are not interested in any kind of agreement or association with the United States.

With the help of the Chinese, the balance of power in the region is going to change in favor of Iran and the Iranian government will face the United States as well as any Israeli attack – and I’m sure that it will wind up with Iran – if not being THE major player in the region, still, probably the strongest major player in the region and it’s all thanks to the United States.

And guess what? The Europeans did that. They removed the American flag and the United States found itself left in a corner, in a room, mediating through negotiators.

Rob, do you want to add anything?

To be continued. (Part Two)

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