While Iran Shoots Missiles at Its Soldiers, Washington Signals Its Willingness to Compromise

When an Iran-backed militia fired rockets at an American base in northern Iraq, wounding an American soldier, the White House responded with a timid statement that declined to name the perpetrators. Unsurprisingly, two more attacks have followed in the week since. Mark Dubowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu write:

Since May 2019, Iran-backed militias have been behind at least 83 such strikes on U.S. positions, a damning pattern consistent with almost two decades of Iran-linked attacks against the U.S. in Iraq. The administration’s refusal to call out this time-tested method of Iranian escalation directly also follows its public unwillingness to blame Hizballah—Iran’s most deadly proxy group—when condemning the assassination of Lokman Slim, a prominent anti-Hizballah activist, in Lebanon this month.

President Biden’s approach draws directly from Barack Obama’s playbook: turning a blind eye to regional aggression and offering economic relief to signal support for engagement to get back to the negotiating table. And it’s unfortunate, because the result is sure to be the same as before: an overly deferential and defective deal that offers Iran patient pathways to nuclear weapons because its restrictions eventually sunset, while preventing Washington from using its most powerful economic punishments and doing nothing to stop the improvement of the clerical regime’s warfighting abilities or those of its proxies.

It’s not just the willingness to overlook Iran’s role in recent attacks in the region that makes this clear. It’s that the Biden administration has done this while going out of its way to tempt Tehran to talk through a policy of unilateral concessions while continuing to declare American interest in renewed nuclear negotiations. The Biden administration’s eagerness for diplomacy will likely be read by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as a vulnerability to exploit.

Read more at NBC News

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy