When It Comes to Iran, There’s No Time for the U.S. to Stall

Jan. 10 2018

After making hundreds of arrests and killing at least two-dozen citizens, the Islamic Republic has managed to put a damper, at least for now, on the recent wave of demonstrations. If Washington doesn’t step in soon to help the protesters, argues William Kristol, it will “have failed to seize a golden opportunity to further [its] interests and the cause of freedom in the Middle East.”

It is true that there are complex decisions pending on certifying or decertifying the nuclear deal and on waiving or not waiving various nuclear sanctions. But uncertainty about what to do about those is no reason not, at least, to begin to move on other fronts. There are many non-nuclear sanctions that can be imposed on the Revolutionary Guard, the central bank, and other elements of the regime; there are ways to highlight the protesters’ complaints about widespread corruption and the appropriation of wealth by various leaders; there are other ways to help the protesters. The administration has shown no urgency about moving ahead in any of these areas.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently tried to assure us that action will be coming soon. But time is of the essence. The demonstrators could use some concrete gestures of support. We are fiddling while the regime cracks down. The time to act is now.

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More about: Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

While Pursuing a Thaw with Israel, Saudi Arabia Foments Anti-Semitism at Home

July 18 2018

For the better part of this century, Jerusalem and Riyadh have cooperated clandestinely to contain Iran’s growing power. The kingdom has also increasingly aimed its diplomatic and propaganda efforts against Qatar, whose funding of Islamist groups—including Hamas—has damaged both Saudi Arabia and Israel. But, writes Edy Cohen, there’s a dark side to Riyadh’s efforts against the enemies of the Jewish state:

The [Saudi cyberwarfare agency’s] Twitter account tweets daily, mostly against Qatar and Iran. It uses anti-Semitic terminology, referring to Qatar as “Qatariel,” a portmanteau of Qatar and Israel, and claiming the [Qatar-sponsored] Al Jazeera network “belongs to the Israeli Mossad.”

“‘The deal of the century’ is a Qatari scheme to sell Palestine to the Zionist entity,’” one tweet reads, while another alleges that the “Zionist” Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the father of [Qatar’s ruler] Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is scheming to divide the Arab states to fulfill the dreams of the “Zionist entity” and Iran. Yet another tweet alleges that Qatar is “trying to destroy the Arab world to serve the enemies of the Muslim world: Israel and Iran.” These statements penetrate deep into the Arab consciousness and increase existing hatred toward Jews and Israel.

The Saudis, then, are playing a double game. Behind the scenes, they send the Israelis the message that Iran is a common enemy and goad them to fight Iran and Hizballah. At home, however, they say the enemy is first and foremost the state of Israel, followed by Iran. Their formula is clear: covert ties with Israel coupled with overt hostility to the Jewish state to satisfy the people, a majority of whom hate Israel.

The Saudi double game is reminiscent of the Egyptian model under President Gamal Abdel Nasser in that dozens of anti-Semitic articles are published daily, while the Israeli populace is not exposed to the phenomenon and the politicians close their ears. Following the signing of the 1994 Oslo Accords, the Palestinians asked Israel for permission to incite “moderately” against the Jewish state for “domestic needs.” This incitement turned deadly and was used as live ammunition for the boycott, sanctions, and divestment movement (BDS). We must not give in and accept the incitement against us, and that is also true when Saudi Arabia is concerned. Incitement translates into action, and that action comes at a price.

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More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Qatar, Saudi Arabia