US President Trump sacked White House National Security Advisor Lt. General McMaster’s in March. McMaster was replaced by Bolton, the former United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The replacement of the US Secretary of State on March 13 brought to mind the question “Is the time over for Iran?” Furthermore, Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal has made already unstable Middle East geography even more unstable. The issue of whether the United States and its allies will intervene in Iran has recently been the most popular topic of discussion. This discussion focused on whether this intervention would be done directly as a military intervention or through different methods.
John Bolton has been appointed as the new National Security Advisor by Trump. National Security Advisory is an important authority shaping the US’s national security and foreign policy. Michael Flynn, the first National Security Adviser of Trump, who was inaugurated as the president on January 20, 2017, resigned on February 13, 2017 on the grounds that he had “lied” about the Russian investigation, to be replaced by Lt. General McMaster. John Bolton was among the options when McMaster took office. But Trump opted for McMaster. McMaster previously worked in harmony with the President. He announced that he would leave his post in the military this summer and will retire. The underlying reasons for this replacement are the personal problems claimed to exist between McMaster and the new Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo. Mike Pompeo took over State Department in early April. McMaster resigned on April 9th, thus completing the replacements in the positions that shaped the US national security and foreign policy. Looking at the profile of the new Foreign Minister, the new National Security Advisor and the new CIA Presidents, all of these hawkish politicians are among the Republicans. These names are also known for their direct and indirect links with international oil and weapons companies. Trump’s new team has a perspective that prioritizes intervention in Iran. It is no coincidence that Trump decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal after these replacements.
It is likely that the next target of the United States, which has achieved a certain gain in Syria, will be Iran. Considering the US interests in the Middle East, such an intervention is inevitable. Protection of the Israeli presence in the Middle East, Restriction of RF in the Middle East, taking China, which is trying to enter the region economically (with One Belt One Road project), under control and the steady transportation of oil and gas in the Middle East to international markets are very important geopolitical issues for the US interests in the Middle East. Stable and safe transportation of energy resources to international markets under free market conditions and keeping the price of one barrel of oil at 70 dollars is a critical issue for the United States.
It may not be realistic to expect the US intervention in Iran to be a direct military intervention. Closure of Iranian airspace to foreign flights, a blockade in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz against Iran, increased economic sanctions after the Nuclear Deal (Trump’s withdrawal from the deal points to this) and attacks limited yet against strategic targets emerge as possible moves. With such intervention, the United States aims to bring about internal turmoil in Iran and change the Iranian regime. This initiative is a part of the strategy to create confusion in central geography, divide countries in this geography and bring pro-US regimes to work, which is presented as Greater Middle East project and was tried to be implemented through the Arab Spring process.
The first target of the attack on Iran’s strategic goals by the US or Israel may be the oil facilities on the Kharg Island. Iran extracts 85% of the petroleum it exports. Oil revenues constitute 65% of Iran’s budget. Therefore, the oil facilities on the Kharg Island are militarily strategic. An attack on this strategic goal may bring an end to not only Iran’s nuclear program, but also to the regime. However, such an attack may also leave the international economic system facing a short but effective crisis. The price of oil, which is currently around 75 dollars, can increase as high as 150 dollars. International markets may be severely affected at this point. The economies that constitute the backbone of the world economy such as the USA, EU, China, Japan and India need to rationally assess the outcome of such an initiative. An increase in oil and natural gas prices will affect RF in the most positive way as in the 2003 Iraq crisis. Increasing the income from energy, Putin’s maneuvering area will expand further.
Before the military or other interventions to Iran, the US has also shaped the region. With the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Iran is surrounded on both sides. The capabilities of the Central Forces Command in Qatar, the planning and execution center of all operations in the Middle East, are beyond the world armies. The US also achieved a significant military gain in the east of Euphrates in Syria and has reinforced this achievement. To the east of the Euphrates, the USA stored 4-5 thousand trucks of weapons, equipment and materials according to the intelligence reports. The US, which has armed around 50.000 PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists, has also taken these terrorists under control. The United States has also closed the ranks among its allies in the region. Important contacts and cooperation continue among Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and Israel. The target of the leader of this cooperation, the US, is Iran. We all know about Saudi Arabia’s competition with Iran in the Gulf. Saudi Arabia’s Prince Salman works effectively both in the country and abroad as Washington’s most important ally.
The protection and security of Israel in the Middle East strategy of the United States is an important parameter as Israel is a true strategic ally of the United States. Furthermore, the US has chosen to implement its Middle East strategy by keeping its relations good with at least 3 of the four major Muslim countries in the Middle East. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and Iran. The US’s current target is Iran. The US is preparing a strategy in which all the military and non-military options are on the table for a pro-US regime to take power in Iran. Currently, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are under the control of the United States. Despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally, it does not trust the US both because of the US’s cooperation with PKK / PYD / YPG and because of July 15 treacherous coup attempt and the support given to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). The United States does not want to lose Turkey as an ally. If the United States loses Turkey, it thinks that Turkey will form an alliance with the RF, which seems to be contrary to the US interests regarding the Middle East. Despite Pastor Brunson crisis, the ongoing diplomatic contacts and negotiations between Turkey and the United States should be assessed as an attempt by the United States to address the concerns of Turkey and regain the support of Turkey as an ally. The result of this depends on the solution of the problems we have mentioned above between the two countries. We think that it will be appropriate for Turkey to continue its principled attitude in these issues about which Turkey is right.
In addition to these military and diplomatic measures which the US has taken against Iran, we see that the CIA is also carrying out major operations to bring about internal turmoil in Iran. The CIA’s attempts to start an internal turmoil in Iran increased especially in late 2017 and early 2018. Demonstrations in which demands for especially economic prosperity, freedoms and democracy are voiced can be staged in Iran. Such demands can be shaped by perception operations in the international press. Thus, both Iran’s public opinion and international opinion can be shaped. We know that the CIA, together with MOSSAD and MI6, carried out such operations especially in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt after World War II. The most recent example of this was in Syria, where conflicts are still going on. There is no need to tell about such interventions of the CIA in Turkey, which we all know. There are serious economic problems in Iran, and the problems regarding democracy and freedom continue, but to interfere in the domestic affairs of a country is not the duty of any country. The crises that emerged as a result of such interventions in Iraq and Syria seriously affected our country. Turkey has paid and is still paying heavy political, military and economic prices because of these crises, most importantly refugee crisis. We believe it is important to evaluate a possible intervention to Iran from this perspective.
The CIA may create an internal turmoil in Iran, particularly by using ethnic groups. In fact, we know that the CIA is already making a great effort to achieve this. At this point, it is important for the Iranian Turks living in Iran, who are stated to be around 25 million, not to be manipulated by the CIA. In the event of turmoil in Iran, the Iranian Turks should maintain their positions without being the side of the conflict in order not to receive any harm. Eventually, the increase of the effectiveness of the Iranian Turks in Tehran administration should be determined as an important strategic goal. As is known, Turkish-origin dynasties ruled in Iran for nearly a thousand years until 1925. This subject should be discussed and negotiated seriously. Various ideas are valuable, but our primary goal is the safety of our country and the protection of the Iranian Turks. The Iranian issue will undoubtedly remain to be the most popular issue of the coming days.
Dr. Ufuk Cerrah-KAFKASSAM Uzmanı