Iran’s Target in the Middle East Isn’t Saudi Arabia, but U.S. Interests

March 15 2021

Shortly after coming to office, the Biden administration repealed sanctions on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, reduced support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting them, and announced its intent to use diplomacy to “end the war” that has raged in Yemen since 2014. But this approach is based on a fundamental misunderstanding about the causes and nature of the conflict, writes Mohammed Khalid Alyahya:

While escalating by attacking Saudi Arabia via its proxies is a core part of Iran’s regional policies, we must not forget that Iran has waged a 40-year war to spread its control across the region—not to compete with Saudi Arabia, but to undermine the American alliance system. The Biden administration’s resurrection of the Obama doctrine in the Middle East has breathed life into one of its most inaccurate and damaging myths: the centrality of a Saudi-Iran rivalry to regional politics.

Iran’s imperial project in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon does not exist to reclaim influence from Saudi Arabia, but to upend the American security order in the Middle East. And . . . Iran’s network of terrorist groups in the region chant “death to America,” not “death to Saudi Arabia.”

Empowering Iran will come at the expense of not only Saudi Arabia, but at the expense of Iraqis, Lebanese, Syrians, and Yemenis. In fact, it is the states already weakened and controlled by Iran that stand to suffer the most as a result of the Biden administration’s facilitation of cash payments to the Islamic Republic.

In Lebanon, the appeasement of Iran will deliver a strategically and financially stronger Hizballah, which will double down on its monopolization of the use of force and the control of borders within Lebanon, as well as threaten Israel’s security—raising the prospects of regional war.

Likewise, the Islamic Republic does not see Israel as its main rival. After all, it is but the “Little Satan,” while America is the “Great Satan.”

Read more at Independent

More about: Hizballah, Joseph Biden, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy