Iran can be partner of choice for Arab allies of US

TEHRAN, Jan. 19 (MNA) – With the US withdrawing militarily from the region, Iran is best positioned to become the fulcrum of any security cooperation between the countries of the West Asia region.

After long decades of military domination over the region, the military imperium of the US in the region is on the decline. The US's declining military presence in the region is best evidenced in the disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan which invoked another Saigon moment has created anxiety and concern in many capitals in the region. 

US allies in the region, particularly the Arab states of the Persian Gulf region, have been looking at alternative options to secure their security in the post-American era. 

A series of events taking place over the last few years and months have reinforced the belief that the Arab allies of the US may one day wake up to the news that the US has withdrawn its military assets from the Persian Gulf region just as it did with Afghanistan. 

The Afghan withdrawal is one such event. The Biden administration carried out a chaotic and disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan that led to the rise of the Taliban, the very same group the US fought against for two decades.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei has recently described the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as “escape,” calling it a prelude to America’s withdrawal from other countries in the region. 

“Look at the situation of the US They fled from Afghanistan in that way. And in Iraq, they were forced to pretend that they had intended to withdraw their forces – of course, our Iraqi brothers should pursue this matter vigilantly. They were forced to announce that from now on, they will only play an ‘advisory’ role. In other words, they are acknowledging that they will not and cannot have a military presence there anymore. You should also look at the status of the US in Yemen and Lebanon,” the Leader said. 

General Frank McKenzie, the outgoing commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), has confirmed in a private meeting that “Iran is still pursuing a strategic objective of ejecting the United States” from the region, the Tehran Times has learned.

The scene of Afghans clinging to and then falling from a US airplane taking off from the crowded runway of Kabul’s airport aroused concerns among the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. 

A growing sense of abandonment is taking root in the Persian Gulf, prompting Arab leaders to mull options for alliances for the post-American region. 

With the US leaving the region, a unique opportunity comes along for the countries of the region to establish better relations based on cooperation. 

Iran is the best option for the Arab states to work with after the US withdrawal. These countries can secure their countries by taking advantage of Iran's vast military capabilities. This is possible if Arab states of the Persian Gulf shed their inhibitions and patch up their relations with Iran. 

On the other hand, Iran has repeatedly expressed interest in closer cooperation with its Arab neighbors, which seems to be discovering the potential of Iran in various spheres. 

In McKenzie’s words, Iran has gotten “overmatch” - a level of capability in which a country has weaponry that makes it extremely difficult to check or defeat. “Iran’s strategic capacity is now enormous,” McKenzie said according to the New Yorker. “They’ve got overmatch in the theatre—the ability to overwhelm.”

The American general repeated this assessment in the private meeting, telling participants that Iran’s ballistic missile force has given it “an overmatch ability” in the region. McKenzie described the missile force as “the crown jewel” of Iran’s military capability that is “very, very highly” valued by Iran. 

In his detailed assessment of Iran’s military capabilities, McKenzie admitted in the meeting that “over the last five years” the military capabilities of Iran have “significantly” changed. “Their ability to build and deploy ballistic missiles to theatre depth is significant, and those missiles are accurate,” McKenzie admittedly said. 

He then described how accurate the Iranian missile strike was against Ain al-Assad airbase. “When they stuck our base at al-Assad, they hit within tens of meters of their target. The only reason we didn’t take more casualties was because we had the ability to redeploy before they took that strike,” the American general said wryly. 

He described Iran’s missile force and land-attack cruise missiles as well as drones as “new capabilities in the Iranian basket of weapons.”

Interestingly, McKenzie pointed to the resounding failure of US economic pressures in preventing the development of Iran’s military capabilities. 

“I don’t think you’re gonna force a fundamental change in the Iranian policy through economic sanctions. That’s just not the view I have. Look over the last five years, we’ve applied withering economic sanctions to Iran. And they have built a first-rate ballistic missile force while those sanctions have been in place,” McKenzie pointed out.

The remarks are in stark contrast to what McKenzie has been saying during his tenure as the commander of CENTCOM which directly deals with Iran’s sphere of influence. McKenzie, a holdover from the Trump administration, is one of the Iran hawks in the US military. 

McKenzie’s duplicity is not limited to his assessment of Iran’s growing military capabilities. He also revealed the truth about a motto undeservedly used by STRATCOM: Peace is our profession. 

McKenzie said this motto has nothing to do with the responsibilities of CENTCOM. 

“I always have a discussion with STRATCOM about the motto ‘peace is our profession’ and I challenge that. Actually, I think in CENTCOM, we are not saying peace is our profession; rather the ability to deliver powerful combat effects when the United States needs it. It is the nature of our profession,” McKenzie said. 

First published in Tehran Times

News Code 183055

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