The CIA’s Poorly Timed Demonstration of Weakness toward Iran

The Central Intelligence Agency recently announced that it is closing its Iran Mission Center, which means that it will be paying less attention to the Islamic Republic. To Elliott Abrams, the decision sends an unambiguous message that the Biden administration desires a “softer approach” toward the ayatollahs:

This is exactly the wrong moment to send such a message. Iran is violating not only the Obama Iran deal, [formally known as] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), every day, but also the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and continues to refuse the International Atomic Energy Agency access that is required of every NPT signatory. As is becoming clearer by the day, Iran is not intending to return to the JCPOA, and the new government of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani is taking a far harder line.

At this exact moment, it seems dangerously unwise to make bureaucratic moves that signal a softer line on the Iranian threat and less attention to it at the top. . . . The deeper problem, of course, is that this message may give an accurate sense of the Biden administration’s policy. Iran’s conduct grows worse and worse, but there is no sign that the Biden administration is yet contemplating the tougher steps it must take as Iran proceeds apace toward possessing a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. Dreams of a return to the JCPOA seem to die hard. And the great danger the administration seems most acutely determined to avoid is any move that might invite comparison to its predecessor and the “maximum-pressure” campaign of 2019–21.

Read more at National Review

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


An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

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