Articles > > War is Not an Option
Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-10-02
With the proxy wars extending across the region like a front of quicksand, and amid the barrage of mutual accusations between the two banks of the Persian Gulf as the threat of slipping off the edge of the precipice grows, signs are emerging that the parties to the regional conflict have begun to come to their senses and gradually realize, if belatedly, that war is not an option and that a military resolution is impossible.
No one can uproot Arabs from the region, and Iran is also a historical and geographic reality here. The conclusion is clear: Either the parties proceed with a 100-year war without victor or vanquished, or opt for some form of a security and regional cooperation formula that recognizes and regulates everyone's interests in a peaceful setting in accordance with the rules of international legitimacy and law.
Jumping to such an optimistic conclusion might seem like a bout of madness, or a hope that borders on naivete. But let us consider a quick rundown of the scattered developments over the last two or three weeks so that the bigger picture can come into focus.
On the Iranian bank of the Gulf:
-Tehran has made an initiative offering to sign bilateral non-aggression treaties with the Gulf countries. It proposes Gulf cooperation to protect the Strait of Hormuz ad ensure freedom of passage through the Strait, the Gulf, and the Sea of Oman.
-Meanwhile, Mahdi al-Mashat [head of Yemeni Houthi Supreme Political Council] has proposed a unilateral initiative to stop all drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, and Sana'a is unilaterally freeing 290 prisoners under the Stockholm [negotiations] process, without anything in exchange, as a goodwill gesture towards the Kingdom
On the Saudi/Gulf bank:
-Riyadh, with Washington close behind, has called on Pakistani President Imran Khan to make a move towards Iran in pursuit of a truce, and he has already begun his benevolent efforts.
-Before that, the UAE had urged Moscow to leverage its relations with Tehran so as to contain the deteriorating situation and prevent it from sliding into a major confrontation whose sparks will torch everyone without exception.
-Subsequently, Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman gave a TV interview in which he said peace with Iran was his first choice, and that a war would wreak devastation on all sides and the global economy, adopting a stance that has attracted great political and media interest in the region and across the world. It was welcomed by Iran as well as the Houthis, albeit cautiously.
-An unidentified head of state (possibly Imran Khan) has been delivering messages to Iran with details that bin Salman hinted at in his 60-minute talk. U.S. and British diplomats have also conveyed Riyadh's wish for dialogue and negotiation to Sanaa in a mission of inquiry that is meant to test the waters.
-More than one Arab capital has directly or implicitly communicated to Riyadh that it can lead the way to global peace with Iran, especially since it cannot guarantee that the Arabs will stand in the war trenches behind it.
On the U.S./Iranian bank:
-President Trump continues to be optimistic that he will meet Iran at the negotiating table, and soon. He has dismissed his administration's drum-beating war hawk, [former national security advisor] John Bolton. Trump also has let no opportunity pass without reiterating his intention to avoid getting drawn into a fourth Gulf war.
-In turn, Iran has accepted reopening the nuclear deal to make minor amendments provided that the sanctions are lifted. On his way to Armenia, Iranian President Rowhani talked about progress on the path to resuming a 5+1 negotiations formula, instead of the 4+1 that has prevailed ever since Washington's withdrawal from the nuclear deal.
The takeaway from all these disparate developments may best be summed up as follows:
First, no one in the region or the world wants all-out war (except perhaps Israel), and everyone is trying to avoid it. Second, all regional parties involved in these conflicts appear to be exhausted, whether from the cost of the prolonged struggle, or from bearing their moral or political costs and in some cases economic and financial sanctions.
Third, the balance of power in many of the proxy war arenas seems to have convinced the various sides that there is no prospect of a military resolution for this zero-sum game, and that the time has come to seek out a win-win scenario despite the profound and complicated obstacles, divides, and disputes.
"Are we being too optimistic? Perhaps, but only time will tell whether we are overly optimistic or have read the signs correctly.