Pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv on Iran and its allies is growing
Iran–The dead and the shadow of a new civil war in Lebanon will not induce the United States and Israel to stop the pressure on the “Shiite Crescent,” the alliance led by Iran and of which Syria is part, Lebanon through the influence of the Hezbollah movement and Yemen of the Houthi rebels in the country. Through Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday, Washington said it would not support any effort to normalize relations between its Arab allies and Syria. And that it will not “rehabilitate” Damascus unless there is “irreversible progress towards a political solution.”
He means that as long as Bashar Assad and the Baath party are not removed from power in one way or another, the United States will not change their line and will not lift the economic sanctions (Caesar Act) that also affect Lebanon. Having allowed modest quantities of Iranian oil to reach Lebanon and the green light for the supply to Beirut of gas and electricity from Egypt and Jordan via Syrian territory is only an exception to the White House line dictated by the severe energy crisis in the land of cedars.
Blinken rejects the recent resumption of relations between Syria and Jordan and the rapprochement of other Arab allies – the Emirates and Egypt – with Bashar Assad suggesting that Damascus will soon return to the Arab League. “What we have not done and what we do not intend to do is to express any support for efforts to normalize relations, rehabilitate Assad, lift sanctions on Syria. And change our opposition to the reconstruction of Syria until there is irreversible progress towards a political solution, which we believe is necessary and vital,” explained Blinken. His words partially correct the predictions on a substantial US disengagement from the Middle East after the withdrawal from Afghanistan to privilege the clash in the East between Washington and Beijing.
In recent months, the pressure of Israeli allies has led the Biden administration to tighten its positions against the “Shia Crescent,” adopting a line not significantly different from that of Donald Trump. Also, on Wednesday, Blinken, after meeting the Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid, put the military option, the war, on the table if Tehran does not accept the US conditions for the re-entry of the agreement (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program. Some variables, however, hinder the strategy of the US and Israel.
One is the role recently assumed by Saudi Arabia, an iron ally of the US and Israel, which after years invoked a hard fist with Iran and its nuclear program, now seems willing to improve the broken relations with Tehran since January 2016. Since April, negotiations between the two countries have been going on and have not stopped after Ebrahim Raisi became the Iranian president. Riyadh could soon allow Iran to reopen its consulate in Jeddah. However, the talks have not yet made sufficient progress in restoring diplomatic relations, pushing Iran to exit from isolation and circumvent US sanctions.