Iran Is Losing from the Arab Uprisings

(Daily Star-Lebanon) Rami G. Khouri - Quite a few Arab governments or political movements are now openly criticizing and resisting Iran and its Arab allies or surrogates. Saudi Arabia is leading an overt anti-Iranian campaign that is focused most directly these days on Bahrain (supporting the king), Lebanon (opposing Hizbullah), and Syria (weakening or toppling the Assad regime). The decisive Saudi-led harnessing of Gulf Cooperation Council political, military and economic assets to put down the uprising in Bahrain is the most striking manifestation of this explicit pushback against Iran. If the Assad regime in Syria is weakened or falls, Iran is likely to lose a strategic partner that represents one of its few foreign policy gains in the Arab region since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A change in Syria will have consequences for Iranian-Hizbullah logistical links that are certain to be significant. Iran's attempts to gain Arab favor by rhetorically attacking Israel are being almost totally marginalized by two concurrent developments: the center of gravity of Arab-Israeli issues is shifting to the UN and other diplomatic arenas; and Turkey has stepped up and assumed the role of regional power that is challenging Israel diplomatically in a far more credible manner than Iran has ever done. In addition, the Arab world is preoccupied with its own uprisings that seek to establish more accountable and democratic political systems, making the Iranian model of a centralized, security-dominated, economically rapacious state less and less appealing.

2011-10-06 00:00:00

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