America’s Disingenuous Criticism of Its Middle Eastern Allies

Earlier this month, the State Department declared that it was “profoundly disappointed and troubled” by the United Arab Emirates’ decision to invite the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad—Iran’s closest ally—for an official visit. Shortly thereafter, when Qatar hosted Iranian military officers at an arms exhibition, the State Department again announced that it was “deeply disappointed and troubled.” Michael Doran argues that such condemnations would be deserved, if Washington weren’t guilty of even worse:

If it had been sincere, then the Biden administration would be deeply or even profoundly disappointed and troubled by its own behavior, starting with its reported willingness to consider removing [Iran’s] Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. “We are very concerned about the United States’ intention to give in to Iran’s outrageous demand and remove the IRGC from the list of terrorist organizations,” the Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett said at a recent cabinet meeting.

Bennett had good reason to be outraged, but the willingness to consider de-listing the IRGC is not the main reason why. The Israelis are witnessing a region-wide shift in the balance of power in favor of Iran—a shift of which the Emirati and Qatari embrace of Iran and Syria is part. The cause of the shift is the decision of the Biden administration to return to the Iran nuclear deal. Not only does the deal put an international stamp of approval on Iran’s military nuclear program, but it also channels tens of billions of dollars to Iran’s coffers in the short term, hundreds of billions over the next decade. The IRGC’s power will increase exponentially, and the Assad regime will benefit substantially from its success.

As if to drive the point home, the American military has remained largely supine over the last year as Iran has repeatedly used its proxies or its own forces to subject Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel, and Iraq to attacks from drones and ballistic missiles. On at least one occasion, an Iranian-backed group in Iraq conducted a direct attack on American forces—in al-Tanf, Syria. These provocations neither triggered a meaningful American military countermeasure nor prompted the White House to consider breaking off the negotiations in Vienna.

Consequently, the deterrent power of the United States eroded significantly. . . . If the White House truly expects the allies to take a harder line, it must start by taking a harder line itself.

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 Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East

More about: Iran, Middle East, Naftali Bennett, U.S. Foreign policy, United Arab Emirates

 

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