Will the naval buildup in the Persian Gulf have an impact on negotiations with Iran?

With coalition naval forces moving into position in the Persian Gulf to protect Bahrain and Saudi oil facilities from al-Quaeda threats, do you think Iran may view this as military pressure on them to reach an agreement on their nuclear enrichment program?

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gpc_don's picture

US Navy VS al-Quaeda threats in Saudi and Bahrain

James,

This is an important question.

In this month's issue of Foreign Affairs, Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations writes in his article entitled, 'The New Middle East’,

“The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might.”

I am not sure I agree with Haass, but if he is right then moving the US Navy around in the Gulf will be preserved as little more than noise by Iran.

Also, this linkage of the US Navy's with Iranian nuclear enrichment may be flawed since its known that Iran is motivated in this effort by nationalistic and ideological ambitions.

Donal Bailey

angelusjames's picture

Don -- interesting

Don -- interesting perspective.

I do agree that Iran's motivation in building their nuclear program is ideological and nationalistic - the pride in having an independent deterrent if indeed a weapon is its final purpose - but I would hasten to add that this is a military bid of their own.

In my opinion US influence has been tarnished by the debacle in Iraq, but its influence is likely to carry on for generations as the new players (India, China, Central Asia) build their own power bases, militarily and economically, and stumble badly in the process as Great Britain and the US have. Their influence on Iran is already in full play and has been for many years which explains the inability of the UN Security Council to reach an agreement on sanctions.

It was Mao who said that "power comes from a point of gun" and that still carries legitimacy in this dangerous world. The US has use primarily depended on diplomacy to resolve issues in the Middle East with few exceptions, and finds itself with very few other options in the present situation. The current "gunboat diplomacy" in the Gulf probably won't do any more damage than there already is, and in fact may remind Iran that coming to terms with the UN may be the smart thing to do.

oil_girl's picture

I agree. I think Iran will

I am not sure I agree with Haass, but if he is right then moving the US Navy around in the Gulf will be perceived as little more than noise by Iran.

I agree. I think Iran will ignore anything that doesn't go "BOOM!"

oil_girl's picture

see new

see new

angelusjames's picture

Don - interesting

Don - interesting perspective.

Haass is right about US diplomacy vs military means but the world still reacts to force or the threat of force. This is precisely why Iran is building its nuke program, to get the military strength to confront its enemies (who knows who after US influence abates) which as you say, plays into nationalism.

It's the ideological (i.e. religious) imperative that the US is worried about, along with its Sunni allies in the region and I dare say some of the newer players Haass refers to (China, India). No one wants a nuclear-armed Iran and none of the neighbors, as far as I know, have complained about the naval action in the Gulf this weekend. The one thing worse than gunboat diplomacy, they may realize, is having no gunboat at all.

James

gpc_don's picture

Regional Unrest ala Iraq is the danger NOT Nukes at least today

Just as some back ground:

In February 2005 Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby of the Defense Intelligence Agency said, "We judge Iran can briefly close the Strait of Hormuz, relying on a layered strategy using predominantly naval, air, and some ground forces. [In 2004] it purchased North Korean torpedo and missile-armed fast attack craft and midget submarines, making marginal improvements to this capacity."

This June, Simon Henderson, Policy Watch: Facing Iran's Challenge: Safeguarding Oil Exports from the Persian Gulf:

"The U.S. Navy has long prepared for the mission of keeping open the Strait of Hormuz, recently with active cooperation from several NATO members and other allies. You might remember that in 1987 and 1988, the U.S. Navy clashed with Iranian forces. The Iranian navy was neutralized as a fighting force and Revolutionary Guard units suffered heavy losses; Guard bases on small islands and offshore rigs were destroyed. An attempt to attack tankers or close the Strait of Hormuz would be regarded by Washington, and indeed much of the rest of the world, as unacceptable. In the event of renewed fighting, Iran would suffer punishing losses-and fail.

But even a successful conflict to keep open the Strait of Hormuz would come at a cost. In the 1980s, damage sustained by U.S. forces was insignificant. The next time could be different. According to Iranians close to the Tehran regime, Iran is prepared to incite local rebellions among its coreligionist Shiite Muslim communities in countries across the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, where Shiites form a local majority in the oil-rich Eastern Province, could be one target. The island of Bahrain, where the Shiites form a majority and the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is headquartered, could be another. Tactical mistakes by the U.S. military could adversely affect world opinion, as happened in 1988, 290 people on an Iranian airliner perished when the U.S. guided missile cruiser Vincennes mistook it for an attacking fighter. And were Iran to develop deliverable nuclear weapons, during times of tension the entire Persian Gulf would effectively become a no-go zone for U.S. aircraft carriers and other large navy ships."

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