Vladimir Putin’s Trip to the Middle East Is a Show of Weakness, Not Strength

In the wake of President Biden’s recent visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, the Russian president is now making his own journey to the region. On Tuesday, he arrived in Iran to meet with the country’s leaders as well as with the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Bobby Ghosh comments:

The Russian president may hanker for a time when the occupants of the White House and the Kremlin were held in equal regard across the Middle East and North Africa; in reality, he can only hope for superpower status by association.

If anything, Putin’s war on Ukraine has diminished his country’s stature in the region. Rather than offer solutions to geopolitical, economic, and security problems created by U.S. disengagement, Russia is now a source of new crises. Mounting grain scarcities and food inflation in the poorer Arab nations are a direct consequence of Putin’s belligerence. His continued support for Iran despite its nuclear brinkmanship is cause for frustration for Israel and the Gulf Arab states menaced by the regime in Tehran. Not that the Iranians are feeling especially grateful at the moment: Russia is undercutting their oil exports to China.

Meanwhile, the poor performance of Putin’s forces in the battlefield is hardly reassuring for those who get their military supplies from Moscow.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Iran, Middle East, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy