Anybody who has been an ally of the United States, unfortunately, has felt a loss of commitment by the U.S. based on what the United States is trying to do -at his expense- for an adversary. The adversary in this case is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Biden Administration is making concessions to China, Russia, and Iran? Why? This has to do with the Obama Administration that had an approach in foreign policy whereby American money could change the positions of the U.S. enemies. In addition, Obama believed firmly that to play by the rules of your enemy could render success to American foreign policy. The opposite is true. America must utilize its relations with its old and steady allies. For instance, the United States must strengthen its relations with both the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The last two Democratic Administrations have been remiss on the collapsing situation of the Iranian economy. Few data can support such a fact. The Iranian people are whispering among themselves “We've never seen the regime struggle more than it is right now.” Military analysts say that it has less money to fund terrorism and has less money to fund ballistic missiles. Before President Biden allowed Iran to sell oil in the amounts of 650.000 barrels per day, the central bank of Iran was down to its last $4 billion in cash reserves. It was in such a bad situation.
This was a reversal of what the Trump Administration did in its anti-Iran campaign known as the maximum pressure campaign. It put sanctions on the leader of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and its special unit known as the Basij. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Al Quds Brigade- felt so empowered by the Obama Administration’s inability to eliminate him. Therefore, he began taking selfies all over the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. Of course, he became so brazen to the extent of attacking the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. A previous attack actually was a sort of a rehearsal for a bigger attack that was also engineered by Soleimani. Things changed with Trump in the White House. A U.S. drone strike took away the life of Qasem Soleimani on January 2nd, 2020.
Obama and Biden did not understand the real difficulties of the Iranian regime. There are three areas of serious and divisive policy debates inside Iran. The first is the orientation by Iran toward China. The Ayatollahs have gone to China for help. And any country that had ever gone to China for help knows that it is a very bad agreement to get yourself in. The hardliners are against the move to have China invest in Iran. The hardliners were opposed to the giveaway to Russia with the waterways in the Gulf. But again, desperate times call for desperate measures. The regime is still weak till present. It is struggling. This should strengthen the U.S. position in the current negotiations going on in Vienna regarding Iran’s nuclear program.
The death of the terrorist Qasem Soleimani forced the selection of a successor of him. He is the Iranian General Esmail Ghaani. Yet, many in the Revolutionary Guard are rejecting his appointment. They are saying, “He’s not Qasem Soleimani. You can’t simply replace General Qasem Soleimani with someone the Iraqis don’t know, someone the Syrians don’t know, someone that most of the Arab proxies don’t know.” There is always a comparison between Soleimani and anyone who is senior in the hierarchy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Many Iranians are saying that anyone after Soleimani is a small figure.
As a result, there is now an institutional friction between the Quds Force and the Revolutionary Guard Corps. There are many reports confirming that the Iranian regime has arrested members of the Revolutionary Guard for planning to overthrow the regime. To remind President Biden, any lifting up of sanctions breathes life into the brutal Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
The rivalry among the extraterritorial military and clandestine operations of the militias Iran supports has been manifested in genuine hatred and fierce animosity among them. A strategic analysis can cite many of them. The Houthis are raising money for the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Iraqi militias are paying dues to the IRGC Quds Force. They have an obligation to fund Iran. And they get money from Tehran in the end. It is a dangerous complicated relationship. The Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq are the most valuable to the Iranian regime in subjugating Iraq. They have penetrated the security portfolio, ang gained much influence in the politics and the economy of Iraq. Upon signing the JCPOA agreement in 2015, Iran started funding militias, providing lethal aid to the Houthis. This increased their ballistic missile attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In addition, Syria figures prominently in Iran’s strategy. They have deployed militias there and this has enabled Russia to occupy Syria since October 2015.
The Biden administration cannot deal with Iran in isolation. The region’s powers such as Saudi Arabia, other Sunni countries, and Israel must state their concerns in any American Iranian discussion. They are the ones that know Iran best. They are the ones who will be most impacted by a U.S. decision lifting sanctions on Iran. The Natanz nuclear reactor attack was a signal to the Biden Administration that countries in the region could take actions against Iran individually. This was as a serious signal to Tehran that regardless of what the White House tries to do, that nations in the Middle East could take their own measures against. Conversely, The Obama Administration limited America’s actions vis-a-vis Iran. Obama said that he could not eliminate Soleimani.
Importantly. The United Arab Emirates has been a partner to the United States of America for decades. Strangely, the Biden Administration is hesitant in sending offensive weapons to the UAE. It removed Al Ansar of Yemen from the United States Government’s official list of terrorism. Other U.S. policy steps on the part of Obama and Biden forbid America from the use of drones to target the terror operations sponsored by Iran. Biden allowed much unnecessary criticism of Saudi Arabia. Biden’s trip to the Middle East should reinvigorate the old historical ties between America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. He has to identify America’s interests with the anti-Iran Arab countries’ interests. The purpose of American power is not to bargain with America’s enemies over their powers. To President Biden, please, do not speak differently to the Arabs than to the Iranians. During the Jeddah Summit, please, prepare the Gulf for a long and tough confrontation to defeat Iran.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Pregent is a senior fellow at Hudson Institute.He served as U.S. Army intelligence officer with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.You can follow him on his t