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Thread by @FitzpatrickIISS: "What adjectives to use to describe ’s regional posture? -- a good question at @IISS_org panel discussion I chaired on Oct 22 featuring […]" #Iran #Yemen #Bahrain

, 14 tweets, 7 min read
What adjectives to use to describe #Iran’s regional posture? -- a good question at @IISS_org panel discussion I chaired on Oct 22 featuring @DEsfandiary, former US Amb to UAE @SafiraLeaf & @AliVaez. Video here: bit.ly/2OSUsZB; highlights below, h/t @LiDanieRae 1/11
@DEsfandiary: #Iran’s regional policies are motivated not by religion but by “pragmatic nationalism”. Iran does not aim to gratuitously disrupt the region; it wants to consolidate power. But this hasn’t always played out in its favor. 2/11
@SafiraLeaf: 40 years on, Iran is no longer a revolutionary power. It is primarily committed to its own continuance but using asymmetric tools of directing proxy forces and splintering them, including the “NextGen use of Hezbollah” in Syria”. 3/11
@SafiraLeaf described a pattern of Iran suborning disordered Arab states – utilizing and morphing proxy groups and non-state actors into the political realm. 4/11
@AliVaez: the premise of Trump’s Iran policy - depriving it of resources to temper its regional activity – is misguided: there is little correlation between Iran’s economic status and military intervention; times of extreme sanctions (2011-12) saw military expansion. 5/10
@AliVaez voiced concern that if US sanctions are as successful as it hopes, #Iran will have little to lose and forces there would welcome a crisis. Alternatively, if US policy is not successful, its regional allies will have an incentive to provoke conflict. 6/11
@DEsfandiary: #Yemen should be a subject for Iran-Saudi dialogue, but the Saudis demand Iran 1st remove itself from Arab affairs. @AliVaez: There is a ceiling to Iran’s activity in the region, but there is also a floor for its regional influence as a Shia actor. 7/11
@SafiraLeaf noted Iran’s recklessness in supplying Houthi forces that it does not control. Iran is stuck in a troupe of engaging proxy fighters that is destructive to its own interests and creates great volatility. Something could go terribly wrong. 8/11
@DEsfandiary: Former US policy on Iran focused only on nuclear, ignoring a range of other issues; Current US policy on Iran focuses on on everything at once, making it harder to deal with the Iranian threat. 9/11
#Bahrain Embassy officer cautioned against rationalizing Iranian behavior. Pompeo’s “12 demands” were defined by Iranian actions, not the other way around. 10/11
When @Cirincione asked how to replace “loaded” adjectives like “malign”, Leaf suggested “destructive” as the best word; destructive both to Arab polities and to Iran’s own interests. Vaez added that Arab States’ actions can't be regarded as “constructive” by comparison. 11/11
Tweet 2/11 quoted @DEsfandiary.
Tweet 4/11 paraphrases @SafiraLeaf.
Tweet 6/11 quotes @AliVaez.
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