By Mohammad Ali Saki

Academic predicts Biden would continue to support S. Arabia militarily

December 10, 2020 - 0:2

TEHRAN – An Assistant Professor from Coastal Carolina University (CCU) rules out any major change in U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia under Joe Biden's presidency as the kingdom has been a close U.S. ally for several decades.

 “Saudi Arabia has been a close ally for several decades, so I would not expect any major changes in the U.S. position,” Christopher J. Ferrero tells the Tehran Times.
The United States is the biggest arms supplier to Saudi Arabia. 

Though the academic says he does not know “anything about the specifics of future arms deals with the Saudis” but “military support will continue in one form or another.” 

He adds Saudi Arabia and Israel are Washington’s “longstanding allies regardless of who occupies the White House.”  

However, he predicts, Biden “will be more likely than Trump to pressure allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia on issues such as human rights.”

The Saudi-led war on Yemen has caused a great tragedy. The UN has called it “humanity’s greatest preventable disaster”.

On December 1, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the conflict in Yemen has so far claimed the lives of 233,000 people, adding that "this large number is unfortunate and unacceptable."

Also, the Israeli crimes in the occupied territories are notoriously famous. Its crimes are separate from its constant theft of the Palestinian lands.

The professor also says Biden, despite opposition by Republicans, is eager to revitalize the dying nuclear deal – JCPOA - and argues it is in Iran’s interests not to reject engagement.    

“Biden has said that he would like to revive the JCPOA. There will certainly be opposition to that among Republicans, who still have significant power in Congress and in public discourse, but it would be unfortunate if Iran refused to engage Biden at a high level,” Ferrero suggests.

On how can Iran trust the U.S again while Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran and Europeans stood idly by, he says, “I can understand Iranian frustration about the different attitudes between Democrats and Republicans.”

Ferrero argues Americans also have such a mentality toward Iranians.

“This is the same dynamic Americans see when they look at Iran. They see “moderates” and “hardliners” and tend to doubt that Iran’s moderates can really achieve any meaningful change. They fear that the hardliners will just reverse any short-term reforms that the moderates implement.” 

There is deficit trust between Tehran and Washington and this view is shared by the professor from Coastal Carolina University. 

“Trust is severely lacking in this relationship; this was true even before Trump. It is certainly worse now. But there is no way to improve the situation without taking more calculated risks in the name of diplomacy,” Ferrero opines. 

The 2015 nuclear deal was endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and its violation by the Trump administration was a violation of international law.

“To Americans, the JCPOA was not enough to build trust. From some Americans’ perspective, Iran violated the spirit of the JCPOA by engaging in activities that continue to impede U.S.-Iranian reconciliation, such as support for Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah,” the assistant professor says. 

JCPOA was not written based on trust. It was only based on verification. Under the agreement, Iran was obliged to put limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for the termination of financial and economic sanctions.

“I do not agree with the decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. The U.S. signed an agreement focused on nuclear affairs; it should have honored the agreement because Iran honored the agreement and because it was good for the global nuclear nonproliferation regime,” he points out.

The academic suggests now that Biden is going to lead the U.S. administration it is not advisable to miss “a proposal for a grand bargain”.

“I think the start of the Biden administration is an excellent opportunity for all to again consider a proposal for a grand bargain. Iran floated such a proposal in 2003; it would have set a framework for improved relations by addressing several issues including terrorism, human rights, and regional security.”

 He adds, “From my analysis of the issue, the U.S. was short-sighted in not giving it a closer look. In my discussions with U.S. officials, a principal reason that it was not taken seriously in Washington was that the written proposal was conveyed without official markings and because Iran’s leaders did not offer any other public or private outreach about achieving a diplomatic breakthrough. There was concern that it did not adequately reflect the views of the Supreme Leader.”

While Iran cooperated with the U.S. after the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush branded Iran as part of the axis of evil.

However, Coastal Carolina University says, “Clearer and more credible communication by Tehran of a roadmap to improve relations may stand a good chance of success in 2021 because this time, a Democratic administration will be in power. In 2003, President Bush’s administration featured many officials who favored regime change in Tehran. The Democratic Party is far less interested in overthrowing the Islamic Republic than the Republican Party. Iran should seize the opportunity for something bigger than a new nuclear deal. Moreover, if a more conservative figure replaces President Rouhani in the June election, it may be easier for Iran to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve detente or rapprochement with Washington. It is often easier for the “hardliners” in any country to make peace with an enemy.”

He argues better chances have now emerged for Tehran-Washington rapprochement, saying, “If the outgoing Trump administration seems to be trying to force surrender terms on Iran, a new grand bargain proposal gives Tehran the chance to frame any concessions as part of a bilateral negotiation – not as capitulation. Ideally, Iran would offer much of what it offered in 2003.”

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