Former French diplomat to ST: ‘ME Stability’ from U.S. viewpoint includes the neutralization of Syria as long as it is not possible to destroy it

The former French diplomat Prof. Michel Raimbaud has argued that it is very difficult to envisage a fighting alliance between the Gulf States with Israel and US against Iran, making clear that ‘Middle East’ stability from U.S viewpoint means the safety for Israel, the eradication of Iran and Hezbollah and the neutralization of Syria as long as it was not possible to destroy the country. 

The professor’s remarks were made during an interview with the Syria Times e-newspaper about Warsaw Conference, Israeli-Gulf relations and France’s clash with U.S. over Iran nuclear deal.

Following is the full text of the interview:

ST-Why the US Administration has failed to get the world on board with Washington’s tough-on-Iran policy?

Prof. Raimbaud : Let’s note at first that this Warsaw Conference was competing with two important international meetings liable to attract the attention of observers and public opinions: the Munich Security Conference 2019, that is the annual meeting of the Western World enlarged to other Powers as China and Russia…and the tripartite Summit gathering in Sotchi around Vladimir Poutine the Presidents of Iran and Turkey about the Syrian conflict.

Anyway, the so-called spectacular performance that was shown on TV screens or delivered to the public or the World at large was remarkable indeed as it brought to the fore several discordant points:

The relative weakness of the reply to US invitation to the Warsaw Conference: about sixty States had been called, but much fewer came (it is very difficult to know exactly how many ones attended).

We must note the absence of some important countries. Iran was not invited, as being the target against which the Summit had been convened, Turkey was apparently represented by its ambassador to Poland, Russia and China having refused to participate. Iraq and Lebanon abstained, according to some reports.

It is obvious that many States were represented at a fairly low diplomatic level, for example the Ambassadors posted in Warsaw. This was the case with most of the European “partners” or guests that were underrepresented, as a mark of opposition or blame to the main purpose of the conference: to promote a holy alliance against Iran, for instance through America making pressure to bear on the European countries in order to incite them to withdraw from the Nuclear Treaty.

On the other hand, and by contrast, this discretion brought out the strong presence and overzealousness of the Gulf countries, including the envoy of Yemen. But we can take note of the low profile of countries such as Morocco, Jordan and Egypt, nevertheless anxious not to clash head-on with their US “partner”.

Israel, the great feeder of the obsession about Iran, was represented at the top level, one of the most prominent figures starring in the show being indisputably the Prime Minister Netanyahou who behaved as the Host, to the great satisfaction of the two Mikes, Pence and Pompeo.

But finally, the US administration has failed to reach the main goal of the conference: to mobilize the World around their tough-on policy. No common position against Iran, no reference to the fight or a War against the Islamic Republic and no final official statement.

ST-What does the open meeting between Israel and Gulf States reflect? Why has Israel unmasked its covert relations with Gulf States at this time??

Prof. Raimbaud: The meeting that took place in Warsaw was not a real innovation. But the fact of being an open meeting was doubtlessly something new. In fact, if there was somewhere a real success inside the whole Summit, it is to be attributed to Netanyahou, the Israeli Prime Minister. After all, two Arab States of the region have diplomatic relations with Israel, and it is common knowledge that the Gulf countries have been maintaining for some time semi-secret but well-known contacts and relations with the former “Zionist enemy”.

But it is sure that the show will strongly help Netanyahou to be re-elected in the forthcoming poll.

Having in mind the very special relationship between Washington and Israel that is the real “Beating Heart of America”, it is not far-fetched to imagine that this point was enough for Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo to consider the Summit as a big achievement: for the first time, the Israeli Head of Government was openly sitting in company of a team of Arab foreign ministers around the same table, in the same room, under the coverage of medias, and they apparently were very proud of their boldness and performance, laying it on thick, rivaling each other in kindness and thoughtfulness towards their new friend. For instance the Bahraini Minister affirmed that of course Iran was the threat number one for Arabs, and this was more important than the Palestinian cause…The Yemeni minister was also fairly effusive…

The whole operation looks like a trap for the Arabs, aiming at compromising them with Israel and making a routine out of this new relation.

ST- What can Gulf States do with Israel and US against Iran?

Prof. Raimbaud: In my opinion, it seems very difficult to envisage a fighting alliance between the Gulf States with Israel and US against Iran for various reasons related to geographical situation, religion, immigration. Let’s not forget at first that Gulf countries and Iran are very close neighbors, facing each other from both shores of the Oman Gulf and Persian Gulf.

Regardless of its conflict with the “Gulf Cooperation Council” Member-States, Qatar is duly condemned to maintain good and active relations with Iran, as far as it shares with this powerful neighbor a common huge gas-field that is the main source of its providential wealth. As to Oman, it was a tradition to nurse a wise and peaceful relationship with Iran, to make a distance with Saudi Arabia and to keep a specific go-between role in what regards the relationship of the Gulf countries and Iran. The Emirates, specially Dubai, welcomes hundreds of thousands of active Iranians… It is well known that most of the Bahraini population is Shiite as well as a strong minority in Kuwait. As a result, and even though the GCC was created in order to counter Iran, we might hardly imagine those countries waging a serious war against Iran. As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, I strongly doubt that the Saudi Kingdom could think of starting a War against Iran, given that the Saudi leadership must surely have drawn the harsh lessons of the still ongoing conflict and the military disaster in Yemen.

The fact of fighting alongside with US and Israel wouldn’t help, the populations feeding a very lukewarm sympathy for those two countries irrespective of their kings and princes feelings.

ST-What is the meaning of Middle East stability’ from the viewpoint of U.S. and its allies?

Prof. Raimbaud: At first, we must take into account the real meaning of the words being used today in the political and diplomatic language of US and, to some extent, US proxies. As an example, if we take for granted that the expression “Friends of the Syrian People” refers exactly to the whole group of the enemies of Syria, that the so-called “Rogue States” are those resisting the American and western “Rogue Rule”, that democratization and Human Rights are a mere pretext for destabilizing the countries where the regimes are considered as unsuitable to Washington and Israel views, it is quite clear that “Middle East Stability” means to say instability and disorder.

From this view point,” stability “means the safety and quietness for Israel, the eradication of Iran presence in the region, the eradication of Hezbollah and the neutralization of Syria as long as it was not possible to destroy the country or change the “regime”. Last but not least, the Middle East stability includes the leadership of the Gulf countries and Co, and their alliance along with Israel, under the supervision of America.

The creation of Israel is commonly considered by many analysts, historians and thinkers as a destabilizing event that occurred in the Middle East in the twentieth century. Many experts and commentators agree about the fact that this State, created by the “international community” but violating endlessly and restlessly all the rules of the international law, all the Security Council resolutions, became and remains the major destabilization stronghold in the Middle East at large and beyond. In those conditions, how to consider Israel as a stabilizing pole?

At the same time, many observers and analysts do think that America has become and remains – more and more – one of the main sources of instability in the World, including of course in the Middle East. Having in mind the exhibition of some high-ranking western representatives or ministers, speaking at the Security Council, we must say that the allies of US can hardly be accounted for their sense of responsibility in what regards the stability in any part of the World.

To sum up the question, to call a meeting on “stability” in this context and with such actors, sounds like a flash of humor.

ST-Why does France reject to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal??

Prof. Raimbaud : France is not the only party rejecting the idea to withdraw from the Nuclear Treaty. In fact four (out of six) of the Iran partners in the aforesaid Treaty do refuse (China, Russia, Germany, France). In 2015, the French authorities “inspired” by Fabius (the previous Foreign Minister) had been fairly reluctant to sign for various reasons I won’t elaborate here, but they found no other way out…There are strong economic reasons linked to US former pressures and sanctions that exasperated the French government, and the deep misunderstanding prevailing between Trump’s administration and many European governments. Some people will refer to the respect of international law and treaties, but there is no doubt that European governments, usually very tolerant to the abuses of power from the US, have finally come to the conclusion that “too much is too much”.


Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour