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Let brinkmanship not block out the voice of wisdom

Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)
Filed on January 7, 2020 | Last updated on January 7, 2020 at 06.24 am

(AP file)

All parties concerned need to pause and pull back from the cliff.

The events of the past few days have further strained the fabric of fragile peace in an already tentative region. Iran just walked away from the core enrichment provisions of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with P5+1 and the European Union. Its defiance and abandonment of the deal comes after a US airstrike, directed by President Donald Trump, killed Qasem Soleimani, a popular Iranian general who headed the external operations Quds Force for the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was teary-eyed as he prayed over Soleimani's coffin yesterday after a sea of mourners dressed in black chanted anti-US slogans as they took to the streets to grieve the general's death.

Plausible deniability is the name of the game. Iranian recklessness, its adventurism of using proxies to promote its contentious agenda in the region and beyond is well known. Iran-backed militias in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, among others, have been responsible for decades of regional unrest. From the threats of blockading the Strait of Hormuz to drone attacks on critical oil and gas infrastructure of its neighbours, from flaunting its ballistic missile programme's enhanced capabilities to attacking oil tankers in international waters, Iran has been allowed for far too long to pursue its hostile intimidation and blackmail.

That said, another conflict in a region already mired in volatility is in nobody's interest. Iran has vowed 'severe revenge'. US allies are disconcerted that they weren't consulted before the airstrikes. Iraq is seething at the breach of its sovereignty as its MPs on Sunday voted to expel all foreign troops out of their country. Trump has threatened severe sanctions against Iraq unless it pays for America's "extraordinarily expensive airbase" there.

It's gone too far. All parties concerned need to pause and pull back from the cliff. The end game cannot be a war that no one, least of all the peace-loving countries of the region, wants or can afford. Make no mistake - Iran must mend its ways and halt its proxy wars and meddling in other countries affairs. But such an outcome needs to be achieved through diplomacy, at a negotiating table and not on a battlefield. Pushing Iran further away from negotiations will only be at the expense of regional peace and stability. After brinkmanship and reckless actions, it is time to de-escalate. It is time to give peace a chance.


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