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Normalisation with Iran

May 02,2023 - Last updated at May 02,2023

As the process of reconciliation between Iran and Arab countries continues many think that it will assist in regional stability, but escalation between Israel and Iran is also ramping up, suggesting the Gulf-Iranian rapprochement is not particularly effective in maintaining regional stability.

The Israeli campaign against Iranian targets in Syria and inside Iran has increased recently as Iran’s capacity to launch an open attack against Israel, or even to use Lebanon or Gaza is extremely limited. The only way for Iran to counter this indirect confrontation is to seek to implicate Israel internally and leverage security concerns and instability.

This means the flow of weapons from Iran to its allies in Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Syria may be the most efficient approach to counter Israel’s aggressive military and intelligence campaign. As such, further escalation in the proxy war is expected, with both sides identifying Syria as the main area for the confrontation. This means that the region is closer to escalation rather than stabilisation, and confrontation between Israel and Iran might be expected.

The growing Iranian relations with the Gulf countries needs to go through a phase of trust building, and the opening of embassies is an important step yet to be taken. For the Gulf Countries, the Iranian attitude is the real criteria to determine how far this warming of relations can go. Particularly given the pending problems between Gulf Countries and Iran are ongoing and in the context of the Gulf’s relationship with Israel.

For example, it is important to highlight the words of the Commander of the Naval Forces in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier General Ali Reza Tanksiri, who said that Iran intends to establish housing on the disputed islands with the Emirates, and to create job opportunities there at the request of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. This represents an open and direct conflict with the Emirates interests. He also said that "the presence of the Zionist entity and America in the Gulf region endangers stability and security there", and an attitude which will also prove challenging for the policies of these Gulf countries.

Jordan is also evaluating the option of reconciliation with Iran. Although diplomatic ties still exist, the Jordanian ambassador was never sent back after 2018 as a protest to the Iranian policies against allies in the Gulf, so there is no obstacle to sending back a Jordanian ambassador to Iran. From a practical point of view, it could be a step towards trust-building even though there are many concerns from the Jordanian perspective, particularly related to security and Iranian policies in Syria, Iraq or even Jordan itself.

Iran’s objective of destabilising Israel from within means that Jordan continues to be a target for this strategy from the Iranians, which means that security considerations will be a key factor in any Iranian-Jordanian normalisation rather than diplomatic representation. However, these very security guarantees are critical to Jordan’s capacity to key up with the changing dynamics of the region, so normalisation with Iran could be an effective approach to achieving it.

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