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