WION Summit: Iran main threat to region, not Israel'

John Bolton. — Reuters
John Bolton. — Reuters

Dubai - John Bolton, former US National Security Advisor, says the nuclear deal in its present form hasn’t deterred Iran from pursuing its hegemonic ambitions.


Suneeti Ahuja Kohli

Published: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 5:24 PM

Last updated: Wed 24 Mar 2021, 9:09 PM

Iran is the main threat to regional peace, not just Israel, said John Bolton, former US National Security Advisor, speaking at the fourth Wion Global Summit 2021 in Dubai on Wednesday.

He said Gulf states, Israel and others realised this fact which led to not just a formal diplomatic exchange between them, but an intensification of political, military, and intelligence cooperation among countries.

Iran, however, remains a threat to the region and the nuclear deal in its present form hasn’t deterred it from pursuing its hegemonic ambitions. “I have always said that the Iranians have not shown their willingness to be a peaceful government. We see them in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. They are all over the place,” said Mustapha Noman, Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Yemen. Now as the Biden administration is talking of scrapping Trump’s policies and pursuing peace talks with Tehran, experts are wondering if regional players will get to have their say on the matter. And if China and Russia will be involved in this too?

“In my view, Chinese and the Russian factor will have been included. We have to take a hard look at the Russians and the Chinese. Are they willing to go along the same lines or are they siding with the Iranians for their own strategic interests? Also, how will one ensure that the Iranians fulfil the pledges of not intervening in the affairs of other countries, or not developing ballistic missiles that will threaten the whole region,” questioned Noman.

Jason D. Greenblatt, former White House Middle East Envoy, agreed: “The deal that was signed by the Obama administration is a disaster for the region, for the US; I think what the Biden administration should do is get countries in the region — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Israel and others to the table, and put them at the front and centre, and understand their concerns, because they are the ones in the line of fire, literally and figuratively… I think the Europeans are far less relevant. They are interested in their own economic well-being. And while they were party to the original agreement, I don't think that they should really have much of a say and if they have any say at all it should be after considering every country in the Gulf and Israel’s voice.”

Meanwhile, there has been an ongoing shift in Iran’s thinking about the nuclear bomb. Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi recently made a veiled threat about his country’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon in an interview with Iranian state television. The Iranian society is increasingly seeing the weapon as an ultimate deterrent that could offer the country some leverage while dealing with its chronic problems.

“Iran ought to stand up and take notice that the region is unified, they need to stop making trouble in the region,” added Greenblatt. “It is not just the nuclear threat, it is terrorism threat, whether it is the Houthis, the Hezbollahs, Hamas, it is all sorts of bad, malign activities that they are doing. If they are willing to sit with the region, may be with the United States as well, have a restart, I think the US will embrace that. The Iranian people have a long and proud history, and we would love to see them flourish.”

Joe Biden’s election as the 46th president of the United States raised hopes among Iranians that the 2015 nuclear deal would be revived, and Tehran would be relieved of severe pressure tactics from the US. However, the Biden administration seems in no rush to join the Joint Comprehensive Plan to Action, or the nuclear deal.

— suneeti@khaleejtimes.com

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