How the U.S. is Losing Its Credibility with the Arab World

By showing weakness in its negotiations with Iran, failing to take steps against Bashar Assad, wavering in its commitment to its allies in Egypt and Israel, and not acting to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Sunnis by Syria and Islamic State (IS), the United States has sacrificed its credibility with its Arab allies. Disparaging remarks about Benjamin Netanyahu, writes Elliott Abrams, only give further credence to the view of those allies that “administration officials are callow, undisciplined, and untrustworthy.” Today, both Arab and Israeli leaders have reason to worry that things will only get worse:

For our allies in the region, the sharp drop in oil prices means this is an excellent moment to step up the pressure on Iran, increasing sanctions until [the Iranians] agree to real compromises on their nuclear-weapons program. Instead, the Obama administration, and not Iran, seems desperate for a deal. In my conversations [in the Middle East], I also heard the idea that once the president loses the Senate (if that does happen) he will be left only with foreign policy as a playing field. And he will want to do something fast after November 4 that asserts that he is a not a lame duck and is still in charge. What better than an Iran deal?

Our allies also wonder about our Iraq/Syria policy, for many reasons. For one thing, no one has explained to them how the policy can work, or why American officials think it is working: Jihadis continue to flow into the extremist groups; IS is not notably weaker; and above all the United States has no coherent Syria policy. There isn’t even much of a theory as to who, on the ground, will seriously fight IS, nor is there an explanation of how we will get rid of Assad. Or is he another potential partner, like Iran? More détente?

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: American-Israeli Affairs, Barack Obama, Iran, ISIS, Israel-Arab relations, 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