Promoting Religious Freedom Abroad Shouldn’t Compromise the Fight against Radical Islam

Under the Trump administration, defending and encouraging the free exercise of religion has become part and parcel of U.S. foreign policy. While such an approach accords with both American interests and values, Brenda Shaffer and Svante Cornell argue that, if wrongly applied, it can interfere with other countries’ admirable efforts to prevent the spread of jihadism. The problem begins with the federal government’s two annual reports, that, by singling out specific states as violators of religious freedom, can make them eligible targets for sanctions and the like:

While these reports bear the imprimatur of U.S. government publications, the agencies that compile them base a large portion of their reporting on unverified information from various activists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and media. . . . Following [these groups’] lead, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the State Department condemn Muslim-majority countries that attempt to combat Islamic extremist and terrorist movements and to counter Iran’s attempts to build influence in neighboring countries.

The USCIRF and State Department, [in their recent reports’ sections] on Azerbaijan, for instance, refer to that country’s actions to combat the Muslim Unity Movement as “repression against believers” and lists jailed combatants as “religious prisoners.” But the movement, which receives Iranian backing and training, has been credibly linked to violence, including the deaths of two policemen; the Iranian regime hosts regular television broadcasts in Qom by a member . . . who escaped to Iran and regularly agitates against the West and its secular culture. Is this the type of movement for which American taxpayers should advocate?

In working to promote international religious freedom, Washington may consider several guidelines. [Above all], focus on the most important cases, such as China and Iran, where religious minorities are killed and imprisoned for their beliefs. For these extraordinary cases and for accuracy in reporting, it would be more useful for the annual reports not to attempt to cover, each year, every country in the world, but to focus on the most extreme violations.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at FDD

More about: Azerbaijan, Freedom of Religion, Iran, Radical Islam, U.S. Foreign policy

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy