By Ali A.Jenabzadeh

Rear Admiral Khanzadi: Sooner or later Arab states will be left with no allies

September 26, 2020 - 16:11

TEHRAN - In an exclusive interview with the Tehran Times on Thursday, Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi addresses several developments in the region, including the recent U.S.-brokered normalization deals between Israel and some Arab states.

Khanzadi said the relations between Israel and some Arab states were improving in secret but “what’s going on right now is the publicization of the secret relations,” which will pave the way for the Israelis to expand some of their activities in a more public way.

The top navy commander also touched on the U.S. presidential election, saying the normalization deals were unlikely to tip the balance of the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

Following is the text of the first part of the interview:

Q: Following the U.S.-brokered normalization deals between Israel and some Arab states, namely the UAE and Bahrain, many military experts said that the military situation in the region will change. Considering the direct presence of Israel in the region, many military strategies may need to be changed. Some believe that the deals between Israel and Arab states were in fact a publicization of relations, not normalization. Will this publicization affect the military equations in the region? And if it will, what is the strategy of the Iranian navy in return?

A: I think part of the relations between Israel and these Arab states was secretly normal. This means that what is going on right now is the publicization of the secret relations, which means that the Israelis were already exploiting what they wanted to. However, this was not overt. The publicization of this exploitation will not seriously and massively affect the process of making use of normal relations. However, the publicization of relations will certainly pave the way for the Israelis to expand some activities in a more public way. In other words, if they were refraining from doing some activities because of some limits in the past, today it would be easy for them to freely and publicly do these activities.

The side that will reap the rewards of the publicization of the relations between Israel and subservient states in the region, is the Americans who will use the publicization in their presidential election. Perhaps, it may look very journalistic to say that Trump will use the publicization of relations between Israel and Arab states to boost his reelection chances. But, in reality, the publicization of relations does not carry much weight for Trump in the election. Because, unlike other societies, American society does not care about politics. The ordinary people of America are not aware of their country’s major policies. Of course, the situation in many countries around the world is similar. For example, I spent one year in the War University of Pakistan’s navy. Many officers from many countries were also studying there. Some of them were from countries in the vicinity of Iran such as Bangladesh, which is not far from the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf. When we discussed the falsification of the name of the Persian Gulf by Arabs, some of the foreign officers were not aware of the issue and they didn’t even know where the Persian Gulf is. Political awareness among ordinary Americans is similar to those officers. There is a huge gap of information and awareness between American society and the global community. Ordinary Americans don’t know global issues very well. If you ask them where Iran is, they may fail to show you where Iran is located on the map.

Therefore, exploiting the normalization deals will not greatly affect voters. It will influence them but this influence won’t be strong. Through publicizing the normalization deals, the Americans seek to suggest to Arab states that they support the idea of normalizing relations with Israel. The U.S. seeks to break the taboo of normalizing relations with Israel among Arab societies. When a strong ally such as the U.S., which pursues terrorist policies, throws its weight behind normalization deals, these societies may feel that the obscenity of normalizing relations is not that much.  But, in reality, Muslim societies and those who made efforts to stop this disgraceful stain [normalization deals] along with the meaningful states, which don’t need to sell their soul and their country to protect themselves, don’t accept these deals, because they see them as insulting. Pakistan is one of these countries, which announced that it will never accept normalization deals and will never normalize relations with Israel. These countries enjoy more independence and are not subservient. They understand that Israel’s influence will further complicate the security climate and create non-linear developments and dealings. In a linear climate, friendly behavior prevails and everything is overt and transparent. In such an atmosphere, there are no relations that destroy friendly relationships.

Wherever the occupying regime of Israel and the U.S. go, the first thing they do, they change the security arrangement there in a way that undermines friendships and engagements. To this end, they go after the weak countries in the region that lack strategic depth. These country’s governments are not legitimate.

Saul Cohen has introduced the Shatter Belt theory with regard to our region. He names a set of countries located in Shatter Belts. He says that these countries are not independent and enduring, and thus they will certainly collapse in the future. Under the Shah rule, Iran was located in a Shatter Belt region. The kingdom of the Shah was one of the first Shatter Belt region countries to collapse. The glorious Islamic Revolution has disrupted the regional security balance that the Americans were after. The Islamic Revolution did so to promote independence and help countries refusing to buckle under global arrogance.

Now, the U.S. and its allies in the Persian Gulf seek to create a new security arrangement. All Persian Gulf’s Arab littoral states are located in a Shatter Belt region. They are like a domino. The collapse of one of them will lead to the collapse of all of them. If one of these countries collapses socially or politically, other countries will follow suit like a domino. That’s why the Americans came to the region to manipulate it in a way that the domino effect in the Persian Gulf would be prevented unless they want to bring about it. The Americans want to set the time of the domino effect according to their interests. The time of the domino has not come yet. When the region’s capacities cease to serve the American interests, we will certainly see the domino effect. The Shatter Belt countries will collapse. All Persian Gulf’s southern Arab states relying on foreign powers such as the U.S will inevitably collapse. Then we will see a different region. But now the presence of Israel in the region will complicate the region’s security equations. If there was a level of covert economic and political cooperation between the region’s countries that protected the unity among these countries, this cooperation is now targeted by the Israeli presence in the region. The Israeli presence in the region seeks to downgrade the cooperation to its lowest levels. There is a schism in the Arab League with regard to normalization with Israel. Some countries seek to protect their political independence by opposing the normalization. Others try to strike a balance by taking neutral positions. The Americans want to prevent this schism from spreading into Arab societies and protect the status quo by tightening the noose on Arab states. They think the presence of Israel in the region would help in this regard.

However, we will see that the Islamic Resistance front will disrupt their plots. Besides, the change of major players such as the U.S. president and others will seriously affect the equations. Such changes could result in the change of equations. Of course, the U.S. major policies are unlikely to change.

Q: You mean the change that could happen as a result of the upcoming U.S presidential elections?

A: Yes. The U.S. pursues general policies in hidden layers of their foreign policy and it doesn’t matter who is the president, whether it’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden.

The West Asia region with all its 16 countries is a sensitive and important region. The geopolitical theories that provided a theoretical basis for military expeditions and wars in history are still working. Theories depicting the region as the heart of the world - also known as the Heartland or Pivot Area- that most military expeditions were done to contain its capacities or bring them under control, are still working. Part of the Islamic Republic of Iran is located in the heartland area, which means that if others want to access the area, Iran is one of the access points. There is another theory called the Rimland, which was introduced in connection to the heartland theory. Countries located in the Rimland belt are in the conflict between ground and navy powers. The ground power is centered in Russia and some parts of central Europe. But navy power is mainly centered in the U.S. and global arrogance, which also include coalition forces such as the UK and France.

In our region, there is no country that seeks to change the balance of navy power except for the Islamic Republic of Iran. In the region spanning from Oman to Eastern Africa, there is no Blue-water navy. Of course, navy forces are present there, but there is no Blue-water navy in that region. There are no countries that try to build a coalition for maintaining the security of this region, other than Iran. The Iranian navy is present in that region and its field of operation is extended to the 10th parallel north area. India and Pakistan have sizable navies but neither are Blue-water navy.

So the region’s countries need to join forces to maintain security through collective efforts and to break the complicated security atmosphere that the U.S. tries to build by bringing illegitimate players such as Israel to the region. First of all, the Persian Gulf region’s countries should step up to the plate to create a new security atmosphere. Because the neighbors are not going to go anywhere. I think that the global navy power of the U.S., as the leader of the Islamic Republic said, is declining. Sooner or later their disgraceful influence in the region will come to an end, especially after the oil loses its importance. At that time, Arab states in the region would be left with no allies. Because they chose to build relations with allies outside the region. When the oil and American protection comes to an end, the Arab countries will also come to an end because they will have nothing in terms of politics, economy, and security. The day their collapse is triggered – which is not unlikely - they will lose everything they have. They didn’t keep any regional allies. One time, I visited the United Arab Emirates to participate in a summit. The former commander of their navy told me “whenever we look at the map, we see a strong brother over our head, and we are willing that you open the window of your heart for us.” The window of our heart has always been open to them. But they engaged in more attractive games or more attractive toys that the Americans provided them with. However, if the Americans abandon them today, these toys will not benefit them. If you took the American equipment away from the Arab countries, they will get back to their primitive desert life. They have no native technology or knowledge. Everything they have is imported. Therefore they need to move in the direction of creating convergence in the region. The region’s countries can ensure the future of the region in a way that serves everybody’s national interests. Bringing global arrogance and illegitimate forces to the region will erode the capabilities of the region.

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