Contain Iran by Sanctioning Its Misbehavior

Feb. 16 2017

Despite the nuclear deal, both U.S. and international non-nuclear sanctions against the Islamic Republic are still in place, as are mechanisms for introducing new sanctions without violating the terms of the agreement. Katherine Bauer, Patrick Clawson, and Matthew Levitt urge the Trump administration to make use of these to check Tehran’s support for terror, human-rights offenses, and ballistic-missile testing. They write:

Sanctions . . . will work best if they are accompanied by diplomatic, military, and intelligence measures in a coordinated campaign against Iran’s destabilizing activities. Likewise, sanctions are most effective when they are adopted by an international coalition. . . . Focusing on Iranian conduct that violates international norms will thus be most likely to draw multilateral support. Relatedly, demonstrating international resolve on non-nuclear issues is more apt to garner Iranian respect for the constraints of the deal itself. . . .

[First], the U.S. government should resume engagements with private- and public-sector actors around the world to highlight evidence that Iran continues to pose a threat to the global financial system. Rather than reassuring banks that doing business with Iran can help enshrine the nuclear deal, U.S. government officials at every level should emphasize that Iran bears the onus of demonstrating its adherence to the same requirements imposed on every other country by reining in illicit financial activity and conforming with international norms for its financial system. U.S. officials should also highlight the UN Security Council restrictions that Iran continues to violate, including the embargo on Iranian arms exports . . . and the UN embargo on arming Hizballah in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. . . .

The second element of the multipronged strategy is to intensify implementation of existing sanctions, since, on a number of fronts, the Obama administration had been soft-pedaling [this]. . . .

Under the Obama administration, [moreover,] investigations [into Hizballah’s vast network of illicit business dealings] were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal. Now, the Trump administration should aggressively target Hizballah’s financial, logistical, and procurement networks, including resurrecting the Drug Enforcement Agency’s now-defunct Project Cassandra, which targeted “a global Hizballah network responsible for the movement of large quantities of cocaine in the United States and Europe.”

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Iran sanctions, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Reviving the Peace Process Brings Great Costs and Little Potential for Success

June 26 2017

Now that President Trump has sent envoys to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, it seems clear that he will try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which he has declared to be “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” Even those less sanguine argue that there is little harm in trying. Not so, writes Elliott Abrams:

To begin with, it is always harmful for the United States to fail—and for a president to fail. Influence in the world is hard to measure, but when a president devotes himself . . . to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the United States are diminished. . . .

What’s more, the United States has been championing the “peace process” now for about 30 years. . . . On the Palestinian side many view the “peace process” as a formula for sustaining the occupation. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance and worse: when they demand a stop to official Palestinian glorification of terrorism, they hear, “Don’t rock the boat now, negotiations may start.”

A further reason to be wary of another big peace effort is the opportunity cost. When each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. . . .

During the George W. Bush administration, those of us on the American side often demanded concessions from Israel to “set the tone for talks” or to “get things moving in the talks.” These steps often gave Abbas symbolic victories, but they rarely contributed to state-building. For example, we were more concerned with getting Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners—who may have committed acts of violence—than we were about getting Israel to remove checkpoints or barriers that prevented Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and thereby made both normal life and economic activity harder. How returning convicted criminals to the streets contributed to building a Palestinian state was never explained.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process