Has Middle East ‘NATO’ Brought Tehran Back to the Negotiating Table?
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (L), Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (2nd L), Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (3rd L), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rd R), Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (2nd R) and UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (R) hold a joint press conference during the Negev Summit in Kibbutz Sde Boker, Israel on March 28, 2022. (Israeli Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Has Middle East ‘NATO’ Brought Tehran Back to the Negotiating Table?

An-Nahar, Lebanon, July 1

The indirect Doha talks between Iran and the United States, dedicated to resolving the outstanding issues between the two countries and reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement, haven’t led to any major development. This is despite the fact that US President Joe Biden dispatched his special aide, Robert Malley, who was the lead negotiator on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, to the talks. However, thorny issues related to the terms and conditions between the two countries remained unresolved, specifically around the guarantees requested by Iran regarding the lifting of sanctions. This time, Malley – who has long been accused by conservatives in the United States of promoting former President Barack Obama’s placatory stance towards the mullahs – came across as firmer and harsher than ever before, according to several sources who took part in the negotiations. Meanwhile, G7 leaders met in Germany to discuss the war in Ukraine and the economic challenges facing the major industrialized countries. At the conclusion of the summit, the leaders issued a final statement denouncing Iran’s continued destabilization of the Middle East and pledged to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. The statement also demanded that Iran cease its ballistic missile tests and threats imposed upon the security of the Gulf. However, there is something new that the Iranians are beginning to notice: signs of the establishment of a new regional alliance consisting of Arab countries and Israel, under an American umbrella. This reality worries the Iranians, at a time when the drums of war with Israel are beating. Although Israel is immersed in political turmoil these days, Iran remains a strategic priority that isn’t affected by the change in government. The Iranian file is existential, and the preparation for the day of confrontation with Iran – be it with the “head of the octopus” or with its “tentacles,” as Israeli experts like to say – will continue until the day when there is no longer any escape from the confrontation. In this context, it can be said that Tehran is fearfully watching the emergence of a Middle Eastern “NATO,” which is slowly but surely becoming a reality. One of the motives for Tehran’s return to the negotiations table with Washington may very well be a genuine fear of this Arab-Israeli alliance. The major developments in relations between Israel and most of the central Arab countries are of grave concern to the mullahs, who are facing growing isolation. Is the balance of regional power beginning to change? Are we witnessing the redrawing of regional boundaries in a way that will force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions? What about the fate of Iran’s aggressive expansionist policy and “tentacles” of the octopus that have spread across the region? –Ali Hamada (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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