Gulf peace in jeop­ardy as US and Iran stare at fret­ful con­fronta­tion

Global Times US Edition - - ASIANREVIE­W - Page Ed­i­tor: li­[email protected] glob­al­times.com.cn

In a tit-for-tat re­sponse, the US said it shot down an Ira­nian drone in the Strait of Hor­muz on Thurs­day, a move that risks push­ing their stand­off closer to the brink of col­li­sion and, in turn, putting re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity on a ra­zor’s edge.

Washington’s uni­lat­eral move to with­draw from the land­mark Iran nu­clear deal and its con­tin­ued max­i­mum pres­sure tac­tic against Tehran is the root cause of the re­cent es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions in the re­gion.

De­spite the fact that Iran had fully com­plied with the nu­clear deal’s re­quire­ments, the cur­rent US ad­min­is­tra­tion has re­newed sanc­tions on the Is­lamic Repub­lic, pre­vent­ing oth­ers from pur­chas­ing Iran’s oil – the life­line of the coun­try’s econ­omy – and in­creas­ing its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion.

Tehran re­sponded with restart­ing its cen­trifuges and ramp­ing up ura­nium en­rich­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Gulf re­gion is now at a crit­i­cal mo­ment. A sim­ple mis­cal­cu­la­tion by a few hot­heads in Washington and Tehran could make the dif­fer­ence be­tween war and peace. It is ap­par­ent that shoot­ing down drones and seiz­ing oil tankers in no way bring peace.

For­tu­nately, both sides seem in­tent on not let­ting the genie out of the bot­tle. Tehran said it held back from shoot­ing down a US plane with 35 peo­ple on board that was ac­com­pa­ny­ing the downed drone al­legedly vi­o­lat­ing Iran’s airspace, while the White House called off a re­tal­i­a­tion airstrike on Ira­nian tar­gets at the very last minute. Also, Tehran said it is will­ing to talk if sanc­tions are lifted.

Cooler heads must pre­vail in the US and Iran. Both coun­tries need to ex­er­cise re­straint and pre­vent the sit­u­a­tion from go­ing be­yond con­trol.

Over the long run, a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion is the only way to en­sure last­ing peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion.

De­spite the US with­drawal, the nu­clear deal, also signed by China, Rus­sia, France, Bri­tain and Ger­many, still re­mains an ex­am­ple of how na­tions can come to­gether to dis­pel a ma­jor in­ter­na­tional con­cern through diplo­matic means.

The mer­its of the deal had suc­cess­fully put Iran’s nu­clear pro­gram un­der strict in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tion while ad­dress­ing Iran’s ma­jor con­cerns, such as lift­ing eco­nomic sanc­tions.

Washington’s Iran hawks need to un­der­stand a sim­ple logic: if they in­sist on forc­ing Iran into con­ces­sions with­out tak­ing care of Tehran’s le­git­i­mate con­cerns, they are only of­fer­ing Iran’s hard­lin­ers more rea­sons to toughen their stance.

Nei­ther Iran nor the US will gain any­thing from a full­blown mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion. The Iran nu­clear deal may not be per­fect, yet it had at least bought the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity some time to search for and ne­go­ti­ate bet­ter terms un­der peace­ful con­di­tions.

It is im­per­a­tive for Washington to quit its brinkman­ship strat­egy in the re­gion and re­turn to the nu­clear deal. The price of try­ing to test Tehran’s lim­its could be calami­tous. The ar­ti­cle is a com­men­tary from the Xin­hua News Agency. opin­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

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