The Middle East Crisis: What United States Intervention in Syria could mean for Iran

Despite all of the recent struggles with the Syrian regime allegedly using chemical weapons on its own citizens, the real United States focus in the Middle East remains Iran.

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Nuclear weapons proliferation continues to be a mainstay topic for the United Nations Security Council. In particular, Iran’s nuclear program is the current large discussion point. The West argues that Iran has goals of using their nuclear program to develop nuclear weapons while Iran asserts that their nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

In a 2013 article published by Reuters, the author asserts the point that despite all of the recent struggles with the Syrian regime allegedly using chemical weapons on its own citizens, the real United States focus in the Middle East remains Iran. The Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran is set to “test about 1,000 advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges it has completed installing.” This means Iran will be that much closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The author states that America’s next step in Syria is critical to United States and Iranian relations. By setting a red line back in August 2013, President Obama may have made any red line with Iran more blurry. Obama then sending the decision to Congress may have made the situation more confusing since his red line had been crossed yet he is seeking international help in diffusing the situations yet is not receiving any. There is less pessimism than normal for upcoming summits with Iranian leadership because the people there have recently elected a centrist President that is far from the likes of the hard-line Ahmadinejad. The new President aims to patch up relations with the West in hopes to reduce economic sanctions that are stifling the nation’s economy. In the end though, the buck stops with the Ayatollah.

The crossing of the Obama’s red line in Syria and his lack of immediate response may embolden the likes of the Iranians if any future red line is set for their nuclear weapons program. Any United States involvement in Syria will set the tone for nuclear talks with Iran. If Iran is able to construct and successfully test a nuclear weapon, the entire dynamic of the Middle East will change. Sworn enemies of United States ally Israel, Iran’s previous President Ahmadinejad had publicly called for the annihilation of Israel. While the new President’s goals appear to be to patch up the nation’s relationship with the West in hopes of reducing sanctions to help their economy, no one can know for sure while the Ayatollah remains the supreme leader of Iran. Any action in Syria is critical to what Iran does in its talks with the United States and whether or not it does acquire a nuclear weapon (Edit: Nuclear talks between Iran and the United States resulted in an agreement, albeit, it is a very touchy political subject in the United States). While all of the talk is on the present situation in Syria, Iran is being overlooked as they come ever closer to being able to develop a nuclear weapon.

In the end, while all eyes are on the crisis in Syria, Iran’s capacity to develop a nuclear weapon is increasing everyday leading up to renewed meetings with the West. Their new President looks to ease tensions to decrease stifling economic sanctions but their hard-line Ayatollah may stay the course of Ahmadinejad and not back down from their nuclear program. Obama’s red line for Syria had huge implications for what will happen with Iran. If he backs down, it could make the United States appear weak but if he were to strike Syria, it may embolden Iran and other nations in the Middle East to retaliate on the United States. If Iran develops a nuclear weapon, the dynamic of the Middle East will change greatly as they will be one of the only nations in the region with nukes aside from Israel, India, and Pakistan. If they develop a nuclear weapon, the West will have a very hard time maintaining stability in the region and keeping Israel safe, in addition to the difficulty with the oil trade. Historically speaking, Iran has never had a healthy relationship with the United States, and developing a nuclear weapon would only increase tensions. That is why what the United States chooses to do in Syria is critical to what will happen with Iran’s nuclear program.

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