For the United States, establishing a lasting peace with Iran is both the beginning and end of several other festering Middle Eastern conflicts, including: the Syrian Civil War; the Kurds’ quest for independence; and the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. Ironically, the United States’ past efforts to tackle each issue separately failed to recognize and attack the true, linked nature of each issue. Only by taking a leaf out of President Nixon’s linkage style of diplomacy can the United States realistically analyze and vanquish these multi pronged regional issues.
The United States has three major parties to ‘keep happy’ in the region: allies Saudi Arabia and Israel; and enemy Iran. Peace with Iran would stabilize world oil prices, something that would be to the benefit of the US and Saudi Arabia (America’s strongest Arab ally in the region). While Saudi Arabia dreams of the United States performing regime change on Iran (taking out its geopolitical competitor without having to do the ‘dirty work’), the Saudis would likely settle for a ratcheting down of tensions, as long as the resulting peace protected Saudi Arabia’s oil market from extreme price fluctuation/ decrease in volume.
Israel would benefit from the establishment of a relationship with Iran like the ones it has with Egypt and Jordan. Israel’s primary objective is to prevent another Muslim power (beyond Pakistan) from acquiring nuclear weaponry, which the Israelis consider an existential threat to their existence. If a US-led peace with Iran included ironclad assurances that Iran could never ‘break out’ from the deal and develop nuclear weapons, the Israelis would eventually comearound to acceptance. The arrangement would be even more attractive to the Israelis if it included the end of the Syrian Civil War and the termination of Iran’s backing of mischievous Hezbollah in Syria and neighboring Lebanon.
In exchange for the permanent dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear program, the Israelis, Saudis, and Americans would lift all sanctions and offer Iran increased trade profits from the Strait of Hormuz. With the threat of war with the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia eradicated, and the potential for an economic boom within reach, the Iranians would likely be willing to end their support of Hezbollah. This would pave the way for the stabilization of Syria, further pacifying the region.
Linking Iran to the question of Kurdish independence, the United States could remove all barriers to full acceptance of the inevitable Iraqi/ Iranian alliance (both nations being majority Shia Muslim). In exchange, the Iranians, Iraqis, and Syrians (with their large Kurdish population) would give their blessing to the establishment of an independent Kurdistan, resolving another historically ‘intractable’ Middle Eastern issue. Iraq itself might accept this in exchange for an end to American efforts to prevent the natural Shia Iraq/ Iran alliance from taking flight, along with equitable guarantees to access to disputed Kirkuk’s oil revenue. Further, a free Kurdistan could serve as a further Iranian counterweight to Saudi Arabian dominion of the Arab world.
Finally, with Syria, Iran, Iraq, and the Kurds stabilized, another great Middle Eastern riddle becomes potentially solvable: the resolution of the Palestinian/ Israeli conflict. As Israel and Iran establish a new working relationship, Iranian support for peace could become a new, decisive variable in nudging the two parties towards a new peace deal. All these strategic goals become potential realities when the United States views Iran not only as a highly vexing problem but as a fulcrum to Middle East geopolitical stability.