Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft joined the FPA for a briefing on March 3rd.
Trita Parsi spoke about the yawning gaps in the Gulf: the US, Iraq, Iran, the JCPOA. In wide ranging tour d’ horizon he covered nuclear weapons sanctions and many other issues.
Parsi assessed how Biden administration’s moves in the region and how the US should make rejoining JCPOA an immediate goal, while suggesting that the recent bombing was not just illegal but a foreign policy mistake since, he suggests the US will make itself safer by pursuing a national security strategy that is centered on diplomacy and on military restraint.
The decision to bomb Iranian backed militia in Syria is thought to have come directly from President Biden himself
Instability and tensions in the Middle East are inevitable due to the lack of equilibrium caused by previous US administrations in addition to the lack of concerted efforts to forge meaningful political discourse.
The decision to end the arms sales to Saudi Arabia used for offensive purposes in Yemen was an extremely important and positive development.
The Iranians are deeply threatened by the fact that the Saudis and the Emirates are spending eight times as much on weaponry as the Iranians are. The Iranians are deeply threatened by the fact that the Israelis are conducting assassinations inside their country.
The Abrahamic pacts (CK) with Gulf States did not bring peace. The UAE was never at war with Israel
United States has both a responsibility to work with the Iranians as well political incentives for doing so with dwindling support at home for American involvement in wars in the Middle East. With the arguable exception of South Africa, he pointed out that sanctions historically have not changed regimes, but rather have consolidated their control.
And they have a cost on others as well, so for example, sanctions on Iran have cost the US economy over $200 billion but that is never brought to the attention of Congress which often supports sanctions because they are more popular than wars.
Iranian nukes are a possibility – the program started with US support under the Shah. But Iran, as a large regional power did not need nukes and its possession would encourage smaller powers to go nuclear, which levels the playing field and makes Iran just one among many.
Parsi expands on how the disruptive foreign policy of countries such as Saudi Arabia are ignored while long held suspicions of Iran have been supported and encouraged by previous US administrations.
He explains how regional players and lobbies in the US exaggerate the Iranian threat, and for example ridiculed the Moroccan accusations of Hezbollah/Iran involvement in Western Sahara as a ploy to get Washington’s recognition of annexation.
The Biden administration has a clear opportunity to work towards a more constructive relationship with Iran, resolving the JCPOA issue but will it take it?