After Focusing on Saudi Faults While Ignoring Iran’s, Washington Must Now Reverse Course

June 10 2022

Even before coming to the White House, Joe Biden promised to make Saudi Arabia a “pariah” as punishment for the killing of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in 2018. But, with the price of a gallon of gasoline nearing or exceeding five dollars in much of the country, the president has begun making efforts to mend ties with Riyadh and its de-facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Noah Rothman comments:

The publicly available intelligence implicating bin Salman in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi is entirely believable. It was an egregious act for which the crown prince should pay a price. But . . . the conduct of statecraft in an imperfect world occasionally involves dealing with distasteful figures. It is also egregious, [moreover], to allow Americans to struggle with financial hardships for as long as they have. . . . And the indignation of the commentary class over this concession to reality, even at the expense of a principle, only exposes a callous disregard for all the other concessions Biden has been forced to make.

For example, the Biden administration pared back sanctions targeting Venezuela’s criminal regime. . . . The Biden White House has been just as eager to coax Iran back into the community of nations. The administration’s pursuit of a new nuclear deal with Iran, [if successful], is likely to include provisions that would allow the Islamic Republic to sell more of the roughly 2.4 million barrels of oil the country pumps per day.

Iran is hardly a paragon of human rights. It, too, oppresses and murders its people, and it, too, menaces America’s allies and threatens U.S. interests. It also regularly holds Westerners, including Americans, hostage. And yet, the United States engages with Iran on multiple tracks.

[Saudi Arabia’s] leadership can be castigated and even punished for its human-rights abuses while acknowledging the vital role the country plays in its region and in the global economy. . . . The goals of this campaign [to anathematize Riyadh] went unarticulated even as its costs mounted. As statecraft, it was as incomprehensible as it was unsustainable.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Joseph Biden, Oil, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship