Iran Manipulates the Truth to Wring Further Concessions out of the U.S.

While continuing to develop its ballistic-missile program, sponsor terrorism, and push the limits of the nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic insists that the U.S. is failing to keep its end of the bargain and piles on new demands. The tactic, notes Emily Landau, has proved disturbingly effective:

After Iran [complained that] the United States, by continuing to demonize it—in [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s words, promoting “Iranophobia”—is effectively torpedoing economic deals between Iran and European companies, Secretary of State John Kerry met with [the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammed Javad] Zarif to try to smooth over the differences. The administration announced that it would not stand in the way of foreign entities doing business with Iran; moreover, it announced its intent to buy 32 tons of Iran’s excess heavy water to the tune of $8.6 million, making good on its show of goodwill.

While justifying this decision as a worthwhile deal for the United States, the administration ignored the implicit message to Iran that it is fine to produce heavy water in excess of the JCPOA limit. Generally speaking, while President Obama has noted that it may be Iran’s problematic behavior that is scaring off foreign investors, the United States has nevertheless refrained from pushing back with determination against Iran’s false narratives. The administration’s response to Iran’s missile tests that violated UN Security Council resolutions was delayed and relatively mute, failing to highlight Iran’s ongoing support for terror. . . .

If America finally calls Iran’s bluff and begin to push back, threats of further sanctions should go hand-in-hand with exposing Iran’s rhetorical tactics for what they are: a war of words that require the United States to fight back.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Barack Obama, Iran nuclear program, Iran sanctions, John Kerry, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount