Mediation By Countries Like Russia To Be Vital In Diffusing US-Iran Tensions - Experts
Muhammad Irfan 6 days ago Fri 12th July 2019 | 11:10 PM
Mediation by third countries, including Russia, could help the United States and Iran to establish a dialogue to diffuse rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, experts told Sputnik on Friday
Tensions in the region have recently escalated as a number of oil tankers from various nations got attacked in the area between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in May and June. The United States has blamed the attacks on sanctions-battered Iran and boosted its military presence in the region, while Iran has denied playing any role in the incidents.
"The Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman are now dangerous theaters. Navies are very close to each other. Iran is being strangled economically by sanctions, and Iran's regional enemies wish to have a war between US and Iran. Iran must be very restrained, must opt for negotiation with the US; and they both need to use third countries to help. Perhaps Russia could be helpful," Hooshang Amirahmadi, the president of the American Iranian Council, a professor at the Rutgers University and senior associate of the Oxford University, told Sputnik.
Anatol Lieven, a professor from Georgetown University school of Foreign Service in Qatar and the War Studies Department of King's College London, agrees that the conflict could not be resolved without the involvement of international players. He, however, believes that they should join efforts in urging the United States to stop further derailing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an accord that has been at the center of the ongoing tensions after Washington's unilateral withdrawal.
"The only way to reduce tensions is for the Europeans and British to combine with Russia and Iran in taking a strong stand against US aggression, and insist that the USA return to the nuclear agreement. If war can be avoided over the next 18 months and Trump loses the next elections, then hopefully a new US administration will return to Obama's policy of detente with Iran," Lieven told Sputnik.
An expert from Greece, in turn, suggests that only confidential US-Iran contacts could ease the regional strife, with prospects for such talks, given the current rhetoric both in Tehran and Washington, looking rather uncertain.
"The obvious answer would be confidential talks between the US and Iran (and at a later stage between Iran and Saudi Arabia) about de-escalation. However one should be rather pessimistic given that the Trump administration is apparently bent on regime change in Iran. The strengthening of the hardliners in Tehran after the US withdrawal from the JCPOA has complicated things further," Thanos Dokos, the director general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, told Sputnik.
Tehran has recently notably ruled out any talks with the United States until sanctions that had been slapped on the Islamic republic by Washington after its own unilateral pullout from the nuclear deal were lifted.
MYSTERIOUS INCIDENT AROUND UK TANKER
Tensions in the region took another turn on Wednesday after the United Kingdom accused Iranian gunboats of attempting to seize its oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, while Tehran has firmly refuted the claims.
The accusations, meanwhile, came less than a week after the law enforcement of Gibraltar, assisted by the UK Royal Marines, detained an Iranian supertanker believed to be carrying crude oil to Syria's Banyas refinery.
Though the UK overseas territory maintains that it was acting "totally independently" in enforcing EU sanctions on Syria while seizing the tanker, acting Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell has claimed that the vessel was detained at the request of the United States.
Following the incident, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has summoned the UK ambassador to convey protest. Tehran has stressed that it considers the tanker's seizure unacceptable because the sanctions in question were not based on UN decisions, denying the information that the detained tanker actually transported oil to Syria.
American Iranian Council chief Amirahmadi does not rule out that, in the latest incident, the Iranians might "have tried to make good on their threat" to take revenge for the seizure of their tanker off Gibraltar's coast, but, "fearing far reaching consequences," decided against taking over the UK vessel.
Lieven agrees that it was impossible to know what had really happened, as was the case with the previous incidents in the region.
"Perhaps the Iranians were really responsible, but the USA has a long record of inventing such provocations, and the Trump administration is doing all it can to discredit Iran and increase tension. The Iranians have a perfect right to patrol the Strait of Hormuz since the northern shore is Iranian. Islands in the middle are disputed. Whether they really tried to 'seize' the tanker is another matter," the expert pointed out.
Even though "no shots were fired and there were no casualties or physical damage," the incident could still add to the "tense atmosphere" in the region, the expert concluded.
Commenting on the latest incident around the UK tanker, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov described the situation as "very alarming" and showing that risks of direct confrontation in the region had been increasing. Rybkov also noted that all efforts should now be focused on de-escalation and political contacts, expressing Moscow's readiness to share its experience in "dealing with difficult situations" in the region. Moscow has also urged the United Nations to play a more active role in easing tensions in the Persian Gulf.