Winners and Losers of a Violent end of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Iran’s and America’s strategic expansion, combined with Iran’s attack on the British, make war an unfortunate possibility. Assuming the war would end with the violent end of the Ayatollahist regime, but without American occupation of significant portion of the country, who would win and lose?


“ALLAH” in Four Crescents and a Sword

Winners


The Shahada and a Sword

  • Saudi Arabia — the Kingdom would be the biggest winner, by far. The Bush Administration would be the best thing to happen to Riyadh since the discovery of oil, with two regional enemies (Iraq and Iran) smashed and a friendly but dangerous reformist element (the Taliban) driven from power. Additionally, the higher oil prices would line Saudi pockets while the Gulf principalities re-align with their western neighbor. And obviously, Iranian pressure on Eastern Arabia would lessen considerably.
  • Egypt, Kuwait, etc. – Second- and Third- tier Sunni Arab stats would also benefit from the end of Tehran’s ability to export security. From the perspective of these statist countries, the largest benefit of the Iraq War (ending the instability caused by Saddam Hussein) has been washed out by the biggest detriment of the Iraq War (the renewed instability caused by Iran).
  • Pakistan – With Russia discredited as a major power and America having limited staying power, Islamabad looks forward to recolonizing Afghanistan, as she had previously done through the Taliban. However, Iran also neighbors Afghanistan and works to spoil any Pakistan-oriented Afghani regime.

Losers


Persians in Light Green

  • Persians – Persians only make up 51% of the population in the old Persian state, and are almost completely absent on the volatile western front. Persians aren’t in danger of the fate that awaited the Iraq Sunni Arabs, but the loss of their government would hardly be good.
  • Syria — Syria is a Sunni Muslim state run by Wahabi Shia Muslims and aligned with Iran. The fall of fellow-Shia Iran, in the shadow of the fall of fellow-Ba’ath Iraq, would leave Damascus both friendless and humiliated.
  • Hezbollah — Hezbollah’s main achievement in the war with Israel was to separate herself from Syria as Iran’s preferred client in Lebanon. But the fall of Iran would place Hezbollah, by necessity, under Syrian tutelage. Worse, if the Syrian Ba’ath Party would fall to the Muslim Brothers, Hezbollah may be left without friends in the region.
  • China – The People’s Republic concentrates on economic growth, and for that requests only geopolitical stability and open trade. An American war with Iran would destabilize the middle east and drive up energy prices. Bad news for Beijing.
  • India – New Delhi is weak and uses Iran to help keep Pakistan in line. The fall of Iran would help Islamabad’s quest for strategic depth and take away Pakistan’s second front.

Neither


Old Glory

  • The United States – America would lose an often de facto in Tehran but would reward her oldest friends in the region.
  • Russia — Moscow would lose her trans-Caspian partner, but would profit from higher energy prices. As Russia has for decades traded land and influence for cash, the fall of Iran would be almost a non-event.
  • Europe – higher energy prices and a richer Russia would be partially offset by a greater clamor for energy independence from Russia. Short term pain, long term gain.
  • The Iraqis – the end of the Shia and Kurdish sponsor would increase the voice of America in internal Iraqi projects, but perhaps help get America out sooner (as “losing to Iran” would no longer be an option). The same logic applies, in reverse, for the Iraqi Sunni Arabs.
  • The Muslim Brothers – the strengthening of the Egyptian regime would be counterbalanced by the weakening of the Syrian government.
  • Israel – Iran and her clients, Syria and Hezbollah, are obviously weakened. But the potential for a Muslim brother revolution in Syria is disquieting (Jerusalem would prefer the incompetent Ba’ath to stay in power).

Conclusion: Should America attack Iran?
My take: It’s a wash. Iran would have made a great partner for piece, but Iran has not stepped up to the plate. As a nation we rely on having a President with the power to take action when he sees fit. Ultimately, it’s Bush’s call.

American-Iranian Tensions Heating Up Fast

Kukis, M. 2007. A deadily U.S.-Iran firefight. Time. March 30, 2007. Available online: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1605487,00.html.

Saba, S. 2007. Iran crisis reflects growing isolation. BBC News. March 29, 2007. Available online: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6507451.stm.

Apparently, the Iranians attempted to abduct Americans before they snagged the Brits:

A moment later, U.S. and Iraqi forces came upon a third Iranian soldier on the Iraqi side of the border, who stood his ground. As U.S. and Iraqi soldiers approached the Iranian officer and began speaking with him, a platoon of Iranian soldiers appeared and moved to surround the coalition patrol, taking up positions on high ground. At that point, according to the Army’s statement, the Iranian captain told the U.S. and Iraqi soldiers that if they tried to leave they would be fired on. Fearing abduction by the Iranians, U.S. troops moved to go anyway, and fighting broke out. Army officials say the Iranian troops fired first with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and that U.S. troops fell further back into Iraqi territory, while four Iraqi army soldiers, one interpreter and one Iraqi border guard remained in the hands of the Iranians.

Besides attacking Americans and British citizens, Tehran has also isolated herself on other fronts:

Earlier this month the UN Security Council passed a resolution against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Iranian diplomats worked very hard to convince some members of the council, such as South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar, to support Tehran’s case.

But it failed, and the vote in favour of the resolution was unanimous, further convincing the Iranian leadership that they have few friends left at the UN and that diplomacy is not working in their favour.

Iran is now also militarily encircled by the US forces. American troops are based in almost every country bordering Iran – Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.

The US Navy has been conducting a series of exercises in the Gulf – the biggest war

Perhaps Iran will manage to turn this around. But the Islamic Republic has thrown away any expectation of peace.