Un bon article, que serveix alhora, per presentar un bon think tank independent dels EEUU. Tenen una secció dedicada específicament a l’Àsia (també a la central, amb Pakistan i Afganistan com a focus), a la que es pot accedir des d’aquí
”Intelligence Brief: U.S. Moves to Regain Leverage over Iran”
n September 2004, PINR released an in-depth report on Iran’s foreign policy objectives. According to the report, the “best-case scenario for Iran is that the U.S. military is forced to withdraw from Iraq, leaving Iran with a dominant sphere of influence over a Shi’a-dominated Iraq or a breakaway Shi’a mini-state in the south, and that Iran is able to achieve nuclear weapons capability. Were this outcome to occur, Iran would be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, displacing the United States.” Iran’s worst-case scenario, according to the report, “is that the United States or Israel launches a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear complex, possibly associated with American military efforts at regime change.” [See: “Iran’s Bid for Regional Power: Assets and Liabilities”]In the two years that have passed since the report’s release, developments have clearly moved in a direction closer to Iran’s best-case scenario. Not only has the U.S. intervention in Iraq deteriorated to the point where some form of withdrawal is a likely outcome, but Iran’s influence in southern Iraq has increased; Iranian-supported Hezbollah managed to defend its positions against an Israeli invasion; Afghanistan has grown increasingly unstable; North Korea tested a nuclear weapon without significant repercussions; and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology has not been thwarted despite threats and economic sanctions.All of these developments have proved positive for Iran and explain its aggressive posture on the world stage. Tehran sees developments in the Middle East moving rapidly in its favor and it considers the United States to be in a weak position strategically. As a result, Tehran believes that its window of opportunity to increase its regional power — which formed with the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 — remains open. As a result, it has not backed down on any of its foreign policy ambitions despite mounting pressure.
The United States, on the other hand, remains at a loss over how to deal with Iran effectively. Washington’s recognition that the intervention in Iraq may not be salvageable, however, has recently caused it to look down the road strategically. It now appears to be pursuing new actions aimed at preventing Iran from achieving its best-case scenario. One such action was the recent U.S. decision to move a second aircraft carrier fleet — the U.S.S. John C. Stennis — into the Persian Gulf, joining the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier group. The U.S. Navy has called this development a “warning to Syria and Iran.” In addition to this tactical move, U.S. forces recently arrested six Iranians in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, accusing them of being part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and having an active role in the insurgency. Also, there were reports from Turkey that the United States moved 16 F-16 fighter aircraft into the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey; the official reason is that they are there for exercises with Turkish and N.A.T.O. forces, but combined with these two other developments, the action has greater significance.These moves are clearly attempts to change perceptions that the United States is in a position of weakness and that it is unwilling to further embroil itself in conflict. Eliminating this perception is critical for the United States in order to regain geopolitical influence in the Middle East.
Perceptions of U.S. weakness — which PINR has warned of since 2003 — were recently confirmed by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. On January 15, Gates confirmed that “the Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they are in a position to press us in many ways. They’re doing nothing to be constructive in Iraq at this point.” Gates went further, admitting, “I think that our difficulties have given them a tactical opportunity in the short term…” Gates, however, added that “the United States is a very powerful country.” This caveat is a military reality that Iran must carefully take into account. While the United States is reluctant to further embroil itself in conflict, it retains the ability to attack Iran. In fact, it is possible that Washington’s latest moves are in preparation for a strike on Iran, even if such a course of action would not be in the interests of the United States.Nevertheless, even if the United States did not achieve its objectives in an attack — such as ending Iran’s nuclear research program permanently and eliminating its influence in Iraq — it would prove detrimental to Iran’s regional ambitions. For this reason, Iran will make efforts to avoid this outcome and it is here where the United States retains the most leverage. Indeed, there are reports that forces within the Iranian government are pressuring President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to tone down his aggressive posture so as not to invite a U.S. or Israeli attack.