See More on Facebook

Diplomacy, Opinion

Opinion: War with Iran benefits no one

.


Written by

Updated: June 24, 2019

The drumbeat of war in the Persian/Arab Gulf has become incessant in the past few weeks Oil tankers have been mysteriously damaged A US surveillance drone has been shot down by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Missiles have struck Saudi installations and Basra sites The US has sent a naval armada and 2,500 additional troops to the Gulf, intensified economic pressure and built the legal grounds for military operations against Iran

The world is waking up to the potentially devastating consequences for the region and the world of this professedly unwanted yet inexorable march towards a US-Iran war

The conflict may be ‘limited’ at the outset but could escalate rapidly, eg further attacks on oil tankers in the Hormuz, US ‘retaliation’ against IRGC gunboats and other naval vessels, Iranian missile strikes against US and GCC targets accompanied by attacks by Iranian or Shia militias against US personnel and installations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and missile and rocket attacks against Israel and Israeli-occupied territories by Hezbollah and other Iran-allied groups To avoid such anticipated attacks, the US, and possibly Israel, could resort to major pre-emptive aerial strikes to eliminate Iran’s missile and naval capabilities

However, even if such strikes are successful, Iran is unlikely to capitulate (if its resilience during the Iran-Iraq war is any indication) Under external attack, there will be no popular movement in Iran to oust the regime (although President Rouhani and the ‘moderates’ may be replaced by the hardliners and the IRGC) To remove it, the US and its allies would need to launch a full-fledged invasion of Iran Given the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan, neither Washington nor any regional power, has the stomach for it

Even if Russia and China, which America has designated as its ‘rivals’, do not intervene, directly or indirectly, on Tehran’s behalf, the end-state of a war with Iran will be: one, chaos within Iran, with the possible eruption of ethnic insurgencies in its peripheral provinces; two, a war of attrition led by the remnants Iranian regular forces and Shia militias against US and allied forces and installations across the region; three, Tehran-inspired intensification of the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan; four, an Iranian denunciation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and eventual development of nuclear weapons; five, a major and extended interruption in oil exports from the Gulf, pushing prices to unprecedented heights, and six, a global economic recession

War is thus a ‘lose-lose’ option for all those who would be involved in this conflict and even those who are not Regardless of the culpability of those responsible for the reckless actions that have brought the region to the brink of war, common sense, and a sense of self-preservation dictate that the principal parties walk back from the precipice

Any endeavour towards de-escalation will need to address the major causes of the crisis and respond to the concerns of all parties Each of the elements of the current confrontation — nuclear proliferation, regional conflicts, economic sanctions, tanker and missile attacks — have been addressed, if at all, in piecemeal fashion so far They are all interlinked and must be resolved comprehensively and concomitantly

A first step away from the brink could be acceptance of the UN secretary general’s proposal to hold an independent inquiry into the tanker attacks of May and June All parties should pledge not to resort to the use of force while this investigation is under way

Simultaneously, the UN Security Council should demand: one, a halt to the Houthi missile attacks against Saudi and Emirati targets, two, a general ceasefire in Yemen; three, the opening of all avenues for the supply of humanitarian help to the Yemeni population; and four, the initiation of a summit-level dialogue between the main parties to evolve a political solution to the conflict

Most importantly, the EU, the three European parties to the Iran nuclear deal, and Russia and China, with the support of the UN secretary general and General Assembly, should undertake a high-level diplomatic initiative to: 1) convince Tehran not to breach the limitations, especially on nuclear enrichment levels and stocks, contained in the deal; 2) set up an international mechanism (an Instex plus) to enable Iran to conduct trade as per the terms of the deal; 3) press the US to lift the unilateral sanctions it has imposed on Iran, at least progressively in response to reciprocal confidence-building measures undertaken by Iran; 4) secure Iran’s agreement to discuss and address the widespread concern regarding its policies across the region, including in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan; and 5) establish a mechanism to discuss a missile-and-arms-control regime in the region

Despite Ayatollah Khamanei’s public rejection of talks with the US during the Japanese prime minister’s recent mediatory visit to Tehran, Iran is unlikely to have closed all doors to dialogue Some of Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s recent statements have mentioned openness to discuss all issues (He once told me that Iran had proposed a ‘grand bargain’ to the US in 2001-2; the response they received was Iran’s inclusion in the ‘axis of evil’ in president George W Bush’s September 2002 speech at the UN General Assembly)

The Trump administration appears to be internally conflicted on its Iran policy There is a general perception that hardliners — National Security Adviser John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — are pushing President Trump towards a war with Iran But Trump may be using them,

wittingly or otherwise, as part of his ‘art of the deal’ negotiating strategy His main objective is to secure re-election in 2020 ‘Success’ in dealing with Iran would enhance his electoral prospects But a war with an uncertain outcome is a risky strategy He has notably responded cautiously to the drone downing A major diplomatic success would be a preferable option for Trump

Although Iran is not always an easy neighbour, Pakistan has multiple reasons to prevent a war against it Over the past 40 years, several ‘independent’ Muslim states have been progressively attacked, subverted and neutralised: Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan If Iran is militarily and economically destroyed, who is next?

The writer is a former Pakistan ambassador to the UN



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy, Opinion

U.S. lawmaker supports Taiwan arms sales

China has protested the sale in strong terms. Representative Michael McCaul, member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on July 14 that the committee approved a recent U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in response to increased Chinese “aggression.” Speaking to Fox News’ Sunday Morning Futures, the Texas Congressman, who was one of the lawmakers to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday during her layover in New York, said “Chinese are getting very aggressive in Hong Kong, as you just heard. They are also getting very aggressive in Taiwan.” Green-lighting the arms sale, McCaul said, sends a very strong message to China. “We’re going to arm Taiwan, so she can defend herself from what’s become a very aggressive Chinese Communist Party right on their doorstep,” the Republican told host Maria Bartiromo. The U.S. announced July 8 a US$2.22 billion arms package to Taiwan th


By ANN Members
July 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

S. Korean biz groups in emergency mode

Japan has ban the export of high tech materials to South Korea. South Korea’s major business groups are shifting to emergency mode, setting detailed contingency plans for a variety of scenarios amid concerns that the restrictions on exports of key tech materials from Japan to Korea could stay in place for a long time, according to the industry on Monday. The leaders of the country’s five biggest conglomerates — Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group, LG Group and Lotte Group — are tightening their reins on the groups’ operations, bracing for possible ripple effects on the global economy and business environment as a result of Japan’s decision. Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is spearheading an array of contingency plans. After coming back from a six-day trip to Tokyo last week, Lee convened a meeting with the top brass of the company’s semiconducto


By The Korea Herald
July 16, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Japan sees decline in value-added trade surplus with Korea

Tokyo’s export curbs to negatively impact global economy due to correlated trade structure. Japan’s trade surplus in value-added goods and services (TiVA) with South Korea took a downturn during the 2005-2015 period, reflecting the diversifying structure of logistics and trade, statistics showed Sunday. In light of the interconnection of the global value chain, the country’s recent curbs on hi-tech exports to Korea are likely to affect not only the two countries but also the regional and global economy in general, Seoul’s government officials noted.\ According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Japan logged $135.2 billion in aggregated TiVA from 2005 to 2015. Its total trade surplus during the same period stood at $303.2 billion. TiVA, in international trade is equivalent to operating profits of corporate business transactions, figuring out the value added by eac


By The Korea Herald
July 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

The counter-terrorism challenge in West Asia

A action plan must be hatched and implemented in Pakistan and its surrounding countries. Pakistan has stepped up its anti-militant campaign, apparently to steer clear of being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force. Pakistan had already narrowly escaped that listing, with the support of China, Malaysia and Turkey, during the last FATF review meeting held in Orlando, Florida. Read: FATF compliance will require all-out effort Yet the country remains under immense pressure to take action against all militant groups that are proscribed by the UN Security Council. Pakistan has also been viewed as employing a selective approach towards different militant groups. The FATF meeting held in Paris last February had rejected Pakistan’s assessment based on a classification of militant groups into diff


By Dawn
July 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

India, Russia discuss joint production of space systems

The two countries met to discuss joint-cooperation projects. India and Russia on Friday discussed the possibilities for the production of space systems in India as part of the ‘Make in India’ programme. Director General of Russia’s ROSCOSMOS and former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin held detailed high-level talks with National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on all aspects of the India-Russia space cooperation. Senior representatives of ROSCOSMOS, GLAVCOSMOS, Energia and Energomash were present from the Russian side while the Secretary, Space and the Director of the Human Space Flight Programme were present from the Indian side, besides other senior officials. Both sides agreed to take a strategic approach to elevate bilateral cooperation to the next level keeping in view the special and privileged partnership between the two countries. Cooperation in futuristic technologies, includ


By The Statesman
July 15, 2019

Diplomacy, Opinion

Hong Kong protests: Chaos speads to Sha Tin mall after rally ends

Protests continue, this time against Chinese vendors. Violent clashes between law enforcers and some protesters erupted yet again on Sunday (July 14) following a largely peaceful march hours earlier in the New Territories town of Sha Tin. About three hours after the rally ended at 5pm, police in riot gear began clearing the streets, setting off a game of cat and mouse with them and protesters trying to corner one another. Tensions peaked at about 9.30pm when officers armed with shields and batons entered New Town Plaza mall in Sha Tin and tried to disperse the crowd that was hiding there, resulting in chaos. Police officers were seen chasing after a protester, hitting him with batons and ripping his clothes off as they tried to pin him down before he managed to flee to safety with help from fellow protesters, who were trying to dodge pepper spray. Elsewhere in the mall, protesters surround


By The Straits Times
July 15, 2019