Will the U.S. become Iran's greatest ally?
Any war has seemed extremely far in recent months (if not years) but the situation in the Middle East, especially when it comes to Iran, seems to be shifting rather dramatically even though the exaggerated subtitle was only included to attract your eyes.
If you don't know, there are negotiations about the Iranian nuclear program in Geneva. It's more or less conceivable that they will end with an agreement that will freeze the Iranian program for half a year or so, soften the sanctions, but allow them to keep the enriched uranium and continue in the future (unless a tougher treaty materializes in the next 6 months).
The new Iranian president (R) and his boss (L).
This resolution wouldn't be enough for Israel. The election of the new Iranian president, Mr Rouhani, has made some impact on the impressions of many people in the West, including your humble correspondent, I admit. He looks sort of moderate; his country developed a charm offensive. It's possible they will achieve an agreement with the West that is pretty good for them. The Iranian official press already predicts an Iranian diplomatic victory. The mullah-in-chief promises that Iran won't back up by one iota.
On the other hand, I am increasingly worried that the whole West is just being duped. The otherwise agreeing Israeli at various forums are shocked if you (or I) present the opinion that Iran has become more tolerable after Rouhani took over. They are confident it is just a theater that we are naively buying.
Moreover, there are signs that this is not just the Israeli impression. Fox News just printed an insightful article about the new alliances in the Middle East. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, a proverb says. It seems to work right now because the Saudis and other Gulf (Sunni) states are arguably as worried about the possible Iranian (and Shiite) nuclear bomb as Israel.
Because of these worries, some behind-the-scenes collaboration between Israel and the Arabs has already begun to emerge. These bizarre shifts could lead to the situation in which Saudi Arabia is closer to Israel than the U.S. or other Western countries. Another sub-paradox is that the Western power that could remain a clear enough supporter of Israel is France whose socialist leader Hollande turned out to be quite a hawk in military matters. Do you remember his "conservative" predecessor Jacques Chirac who was the most arrogant critic of the U.S. activity in the region? Now it starts to make sense to talk about something that would sound really crazy a few years ago – the French-Israeli-Saudi front against Iran. ;-)
The remaining Western countries should probably ask the question whether we're not being collectively manipulated by Iran. Is the new "more human face" of Iran something that should affect us at all? Aren't we abandoning a unique opportunity to actually solve the Iranian nuclear problem?
Maybe if the U.S. diplomacy were working more efficiently, it could provide the Gulf states and Israel with the bonds they can't display and strengthen openly and create a huge coalition that would peacefully or not-so-peacefully guarantee that Persia won't represent a nuclear threat to the region or the world in the next 50 years.
The bizarrely diverging evolution of the West's and Arabs' attitudes towards Iran has two related reasons, I think. The first reason is that the West is much more likely to be affected by "nice[r] words". It cares about the P.R. while the Middle East nations are more likely to insist on the natural "biological or religious proximity to other nations or the lack of it". The second reason is that the West is unlikely to be "directly threatened" by the Iranian nuclear arsenal if it exists so it doesn't really care as much as the Saudis, for example.
At any rate, the checks and balances in the Middle East are clearly evolving. The big picture is changing and its small parts are changing independently of that, too. Egypt (and its military), for example, has removed the Muslim Brotherhood from the power again. The Muslim Brotherhood was an ally of Iran and wanted to erase the peace treaties with Israel. Now, when these brothers are gone again, Egypt would naturally become a member of the anti-Iranian coalition.
There's some possibility that the Western countries will sign an agreement with Iran that will be considered as "insufficiently safe" not only by Israel but also by other countries in the region. They may even decide that it's time to act. If a conflict arises, I hope and pray that the U.S. or other Western powers won't enter the conflict on the side of Iran! I am sure that Iran hasn't improved this much, to deserve such a support, not even if it were attacked by others.
Israel's PM estimates that Iran has enough low-grade uranium for 5 bombs. But I guess they don't have the bombs and can't produce them within weeks. In my opinion, a more conventional war of an "unusual regional coalition" against Iran (plus some less important allies) would lead to Iran's defeat.
Will the U.S. become Iran's greatest ally?