America Needs a New Strategy for Iran

Dec. 12 2022

With the Islamic Republic in the twelfth week of unrest, Matthew Continetti argues, the White House must formulate a different, and coherent, approach:

President Biden and his officials, to their credit, have said that they stand with the Iranian people against the oppressive regime. Biden has levied sanctions on Iranian government officials and organizations associated with the brutal crackdown on demonstrators. It’s a start. Otherwise, Biden has wasted time.

Iran is vulnerable. . . . The application of external pressure could cause it to collapse. If all goes well, military force won’t be necessary. But for all to go well the ayatollah, his army, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps need to take the threat of force seriously enough that it scrambles their calculations and spooks them into concessions. Thus, the first step toward defeating the Islamic revolutionaries in charge of Iran is reviving America’s defenses and demonstrating America’s commitment to the security of the Persian Gulf.

The next step is repairing America’s alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudis must understand that America supports the anti-Iranian coalition. And America must recognize that criticism of Israel’s incoming government should take second place to more important priorities such as expanding the Abraham Accords to include Saudi Arabia and coordinating both covert and overt actions against the Iranian nuclear program.

Then comes the ideological offensive. President Biden can no longer afford to treat foreign policy as a distraction from his domestic goals. He needs to make the case, directly and frequently, not only for continued American assistance to Ukraine but also for supporting the domestic opposition to a pariah regime that endangers the world. And he needs to do it using the same rhetoric as Ukrainians and Iranians who resist subjugation because they desire freedom.

Read more at Washington Free Beacon

More about: Human Rights, Iran, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount