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Can Iran Become a Cooperative Partner in Regional Security?

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Can Iran Become a Cooperative Partner in Regional Security? – Michael Doran and Max Boot (New York Times)
(Daily Alert)

President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are quietly pursuing a strategic realignment that, they believe, will end decades of semi-open warfare between Iran and the U.S. In our view, the Obama administration wants to see a “concert” of great powers – Russia, America, the European nations and Iran – working together to stabilize the Middle East.

There are two main reasons for this attempted shift. One is simply the desire of the president to extricate the U.S. from the Middle East. The other is fear of al-Qaeda: The White House undoubtedly sees Iran and its Shiite allies as potential partners in the fight against Sunnijihadism.

However, this strategy is destined to fail. Iran does not share a common enemy that would force it to unite with America. Though Iran’s proxies are fighting Sunni extremists in a number of theaters, Iran itself has cooperated with al-Qaeda and other Sunni extremists, such as Hamas and the Taliban, when it has served its interests to do so.

Iran’s rulers simply do not regard al-Qaeda as an existential threat on a par with the “Great Satan” (as they see the U.S.).

The second major problem is that Iran has always harbored dreams of regional hegemony. There is no sign that the election of the “moderate” cleric Hassan Rouhani as president has changed anything. On the contrary, Iran is stepping up its support for militants in the region.

  • Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
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