The ongoing and seemingly endless nuclear talks with Iran and the P5+1 are approaching a deadline, and the probability that a deal will be struck is still uncertain. Iran recently commented against a move to ship enriched uranium out of the country, specifically to Russia, to be diluted or disposed of. American officials are doing their best to come to a solution both sides are able to agree on while giving allies and the Republican Party the peace of mind that Iran will not be able to develop weapons.
The negotiations have been a top concern in the Middle East in terms of regional security. The talks have been challenged by fears from Israel and Sunni Arab states of a nuclear armed Iran seizing control of the area. While Saudi Arabia and Israel certainly hold a current military advantage over Iran, an array of nuclear weapons would escalate tensions and risk an all out war in the Middle East.
The fight over Iran’s nuclear power status has been a blessing in disguise for Israel. It steers the attention away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and points fingers at a greater threat. Much of the Middle East is on the same page on opposing Israel’s activities towards Palestine. Israel risks a strong coalition in one fully united force condemning illegal settlements, raids, political tactics, inhumane treatment, and collective punishment towards Palestinians. While Arab states are concerned with the Palestinian issue, Iran poses a higher priority for Saudi Arabia and its allies.
Iran and its allies have attempted to shift the rhetoric back to Israel and the West as oppressive and ‘satanic’ entities. Ayatollah Khamenei made remarks towards the United States, saying ‘Death to America’ to rally Iranian opposition to sanctions on the nation being lifted overtime instead of immediately. Khamenei “couldn’t help but chime in” when the crowd he was addressing began the ‘Death to America’ chants. This mindset has been embedded in Iran’s conservative society to place blame on the United States for nearly any and all hardships. This rhetoric in the United States and Israel has been taken at face value (whether the leadership has meant it or used it as a rallying point) and used as a reason to pursue strong actions against Iran.
Essentially, the Iranian government has been using the nuclear talks as a boost to its image. It’s taking a stand against Western aggression and wants to express its sovereignty in the global community, especially like other nuclear nations. The nation has handled the sanctions better than expected despite a low economy. Any action placing more restriction only gives the Iranian government more ammunition to gain supporters and divert attention from itself onto the West. If the nuclear issue is resolved, the regime loses that much ammunition and must resort to its reserves to maintain legitimacy.
To keep Saudi Arabia bouncing back and forth, Iran is trying to shout louder than Israel. But the issue is bigger than a simple shouting match.
The regional conflict for influence has come at the cost of human rights and security for citizens in many states. The governments and war hawks of these nations are pointing fingers at enemies bigger than their own government, as outside nations stand as a greater evil. It’s a similar tactic to what ISIS has been using to attract followers: blinding support to vanquish an over-hyped antagonist.
While there are groups within these nations who have spoken out bravely for human and civil rights, the government’s ability to suppress and silence these individuals have been semi-successful due to the villainization of other countries. It’s this kind of rhetoric that has rounded up nationalists, war mongers, and profit seeking businesses to lend their support for an oppressive and often corrupt regime to curb civil liberties and protections in order to secure the nation’s image, security, and stability.
Like ISIS, these nations have relied on conservative (but not as extreme) Islamic values to mold society into a specific format. And similar to the question of why women have been joining ISIS, seemingly abandoning any thoughts of the vacuum of human rights, the image of protecting the faith and the country stands stronger in some minds than others.
Conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen have left populations at risk of extreme violence, poverty, insecurity, and in a financial nightmare. These communities are caught in the crossfire, trapped in proxy wars between two giant nations tossing money and weapons at affiliate groups to advance agendas. And there is an appearance of picking and choosing which conflicts to engage in. Which ones will gain political favor and will be overall successful.
There has been backlash from some Palestinians on Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to strike Yemen, but reluctance to address Palestine with vigor. Saudi Arabia has officially declared their aim to stabilize the country and attack Houthi rebels, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, but have remained apprehensive and vague in terms of Syria. There has not been any Saudi led strikes in Syria, an Iranian ally destabilized by al-Nusra (al-Qaeda affiliate), ISIS, and rebels of various factions.
These three countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel) have either abused human rights or used its image to advance political agendas and to legitimize their efforts to gain power and influence. All parties have committed violations against humanity in some form. Many prominent Israeli spokesmen and officials have boasting of democracy and strong human rights in their nation, concerned with the welfare of humanity, while condemning inhumane treatment in Arab states and using such behavior as a license to act on its own wishes.
Likewise with Saudi Arabia and Iran, these two have lashed out at Israel’s poor treatment of Palestinians while ignoring or downplaying human rights violations in their own backyard. It’s almost childish how these regimes are using and abusing innocent people to deflect any challenges or judgement, but it’s working. These regimes are building up enemies, creating attributes and propagandizing their possible negative effect on society and the world. They are using fear, a basic human emotion, to advocate for actions rather than legitimately protect people .
The sooner the nuclear talks come to a close on agreeable terms, the sooner a comprehensive Middle East process can be brought to the table. While the conflicts in the region will not subside afterwards, the nuclear negotiations pose as a major obstacle for the development of human rights and fully addressing the wrong committed by each nation. The prize for finding a solution should not be a Nobel Peace Prize or the title of ‘King of the Hill,’ but rather it should be the safety and well being of people, the protection of all individuals, and the promotion of basic human rights.
Photo Credit: U.S. News