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Tribune News Network
THE Brookings Doha Center held a panel discussion recently on the heightened tensions between the US and Iran in the aftermath of the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the Iran nuclear deal, and the subsequent intensification of economic sanctions against Iran by the US.
The panel was moderated by Ali Fathollah-Nejad, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
The panelists included Suzanne Maloney, deputy director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution; Abbas Maleki, vice-president of Sharif University for Cultural and International Affairs; and Omar Ayasrah, a Jordanian journalist and writer.
The discussion started with introductory comments by each of the panelists.
Suzanne Maloney provided an overview of the history of the relationship between Iran and the US. She said that the sanctions on Iran are effective and “have very little blowback on the US or the global economy.”
She added, “From Washington’s perspective, we can continue this policy indefinitely. Iran’s decisions will determine where this crisis will go.”
Abbas Maleki alluded to misperception and ignorance on both sides which could affect policy making. He said, “The US uses coercive diplomacy even when talking about negotiations”, adding that “Iranians have been given no reason to believe that they could receive significant sanctions relief in return for concessions.”
He added, “Both countries believe that the status quo is the best situation because the United States enables access to Arab countries and because Iran can reach proxy forces like Hezbollah and other actors.”
Omar Ayasrah highlighted Iran’s ability to accomplish a geo-strategic breakthrough by sustaining itself despite 40 years of sanctions.
He said, “We often overlook the ‘Israel factor’ when we discuss US-Iran tensions. Israel is a key player in this. The withdrawal from the nuclear deal is not only in the interest of the US, but also in the interest of Israel.”
Ayasrah also noted the absence of a unified Arab framework in dealing with Iran. “GCC members are divided in their approach towards Iran. The Saudi position aims to diminish Iran’s regional proxies and is even willing to go to war whereas other GCC members like Oman and Qatar are more pragmatic and their approach is closer to mediation and de-escalation.”
The sanctions have led to limiting of Iran’s oil exports while Europe has failed to deliver on its promises to provide Iran with economic relief.
In the recent months, a risky game of brinkmanship in the Gulf pits Iran against the United States and its allies and there has been a great deal of uncertainty about the future of the Iran nuclear deal.
In addition, there are concerns that Iran will fast-track its nuclear programme, or that current geopolitical skirmishes could result in a full-scale military confrontation.
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