The Threat Of An Exit?
The Iranian presidential takeover by conservative Sayyid Ebrahim Raisi could point out a resumption of hostilities by the Islamic Republic, all the more so as the Joe Biden Administration is already signalling a gradual detachment from West Asia for a more concentrated approach to the Indo-Pacific, especially in dealing with a rising and more assertive China.
The Every Morning Asia portal recently reported that Iran’s most recent animosities were based on a belief in Tehran that Washington DC was unwilling to escalate an armed conflict with its Persian nemesis, and the US decline in the region strengthened the Iranian leverage in the rounds of negotiations held in Vienna on the American return to the Nuclear Agreement.
Following the announcement of military withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden signalled in a meeting in Washington DC with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi the retreat of US troops from Iraq by the end of 2021, with only the staff responsible for training, technical expertise and shared intelligence remaining active.
The new Raisi Administration could also seal the preservation of the legacy of current Supreme Iranian Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Although Khamenei would be willing to negotiate with the West in order to avoid an economic collapse, followed by a humanitarian crisis in Iran, his political line follows the path of contempt and distrust of Western institutions and their State Political Actors.
During his tenure, the Supreme Leader presented the West as a bogeyman ready to shut down a rising and prosperous Iran. This message has had a positive impact for the conservative branch in Tehran, especially due to the polarised failure of the Moderate Administration of former President Hassan Rouhani to make peace with the West. Raisi was not chosen to deviate from this path, but to carry the message forward.
What Washington DC does not seem to understand is that West Asia cannot be ignored. Over the decades, many US Administrations have tried to disconnect from the region, but the threat following the American exit brought the US back. This time will not be anything different.
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