An Israeli flag is seen placed on Mount Bental in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on May 10, 2018. Israel’s army said then that it had carried out widespread raids against Iranian targets in Syria overnight after rocket fire towards its forces it blamed on Iran, marking a sharp escalation between the two enemies.
JALAA MAREY | AFP | Getty Images
A lack of regional participation in Iran’s ill-fated nuclear deal or collective effort to make the country more constructive in the region could lead to a new conflict in the Middle East, a senior Emirati official told CNBC on Monday.
Briefing CNBC Monday on condition of anonymity, the senior Emirati official said that Iran’s fast-collapsing international nuclear deal was almost bound to fail from the start because there had been no regional voice taking part in its negotiation back in 2015.
Iran’s nuclear deal was brokered by the U.S., U.K., France, China and Russia as well as a Germany (and known as the 5+1 group). It is on the verge of collapsing after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, however.
Iran has already announced that it will break a limit enshrined in the nuclear deal on uranium enrichment, putting pressure on the remaining signatories over whether to stick with Iran, as they have done so far, or to allow the deal to collapse. Iran has blamed European partners for what it saw as their failure to live up to commitments in the deal.
The senior Emirati official said that a fundamental flaw of the nuclear deal was a lack of regional participation, or regional buy-in, to the process.
He also said that without a collective effort to make Iran more constructive in the region, the next political crisis would be prompted.
The official believed this would center on the Golan Heights, a territory captured from Syria by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day war and annexed in 1981.
The U.S. caused a stir in March 2019 by unilaterally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied heights.
The official said such a conflict could take place in the next few years, adding that a cycle of perpetual crisis had to be broken at some point rather than just processes to de-escalate conflicts rather than resolving them.
Iran has appeared increasingly isolated both on a global stage and in a region where it has long-fought against Saudi Arabia for political and religious dominance. The four-year (and ongoing) civil war in Yemen, for example, is widely seen as a proxy war between the Islamic Republic, which supports the Houthi rebels in the country, and the Saudi kingdom.
On the situation in Yemen, the official told CNBC that the UAE will be reducing the number of troops in Yemen and any deployment will be tactical and based on the situation.
UAE troops have been fighting as part of a Saudi-led military coalition against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels in the region.
As Iran’s economy struggles under U.S. sanctions restricting its key economic sectors including oil, shipping and banking, its relations with the U.S. and its Middle Eastern neighbors are at a low ebb.
Those tensions have manifested themselves in and around the Strait of Hormuz, an essential shipping lane in the Gulf where a number of oil tankers and a U.S. spy drone have been attacked since May, attacks blamed on Iran.
Stressing the global importance of maintaining energy and maritime security, the Emirati official said that burden-sharing and a collective approach was essential again and that a national approach should be avoided if at all possible. He stressed again that a political resolution to the current crisis with Iran was necessary if the region was to avoid another conflict in the Golan.