The U.S. Is Forsaking Middle Eastern Liberals

Lebanese journalist Hanin Ghaddar argues that, in its quest for détente with Iran, America has abandoned its decades-long policy of promoting democracy and human rights in the region:

Democracy, freedom, self-determination, [and] human and individual rights are values that Arab liberals like myself thought we shared with the United States. That’s what you told us. For years, we’ve . . . been preached to by visiting American diplomats and think-tankers and journalists about the virtues of citizenship and democracy. We took plenty of notes. We’ve been told that if we speak out to defend our rights, we will be supported by America. And now we’ve been betrayed.

For many liberal Arab citizens like me, it looks like the United States is now taking sides in a sectarian conflict and turning a deliberate blind eye to violations of rights and values which are supposedly the core of what the United States represents. The United States is siding with the Shiites against the Sunnis. It is helping Assad, Hizballah, and other allies of Iran stay in power. . . .

Reality now tells us that today’s America does not care about our aspirations for freedom, for democracy, and for citizenship. The reality today says one thing: take things into your own hands because no one will help you. The gap left by the United States will be filled with extremists who despise liberal ideas, freedom of speech, and democracy. Whatever is left of our civil society will eventually lose legitimacy, because its ideals and goals will be considered too liberal and Westernized for communities radicalized by sectarian tension. The people who will emerge from the societies that are formed along this sectarian model will not be good citizens of open societies. They will be locked in cages of hatred and fear. We know from experience how that story turns out.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Arab democracy, Iran, Liberalism, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy