Category Archives: Iran

Obama’s Foreign Policy Is Forming Alliances We Never Thought Possible – Yahoo Finance

Almost exclusively reactive, never proactive or leading. And this is what it has gotten the USA. I’m surprised that this article was published by the AP. The press has been oh so slow to ‘analyze’ impacts of Obama’s actions (hard to call it a ‘policy’) overseas.
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AP

Here’s how quickly things can change in the volatile Middle East: Less than one year ago, President Barack Obama considered airstrikes against military targets held by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a chemical weapons attack killed as many as 1,400 people in the capital.

Now, the Obama administration is reportedly considering entering a de facto alliance with the Assad regime amid another pressing crisis in the region. [

The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin reported last week that some in the Obama administration are pushing to move it away from its stated goal of regime change in Syria. The administration would do this in favor of working with the Assad regime in the Middle East to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and other Sunni extremists, who have caused the crisis in Iraq to bubble over in recent weeks.

“Anyone calling for regime change in Syria is frankly blind to the past decade; and the collapse of eastern Syria, and growth of Jihadistan, leading to 30 to 50 suicide attacks a month in Iraq,” one senior Obama administration official who works on Iraq policy told Rogin.

In fact, in Iraq, the United States could soon find itself working on the same side as four normally unfriendly foes: the Assad regime; Iran, Assad’s primary backer and the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism; Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy group; and Russia, with whom the U.S. is sparring over its continued stirring of unrest in Ukraine.

Basically, nine months after a Russian-brokered chemical weapons deal in September re-legitimized Assad as an international partner, the Iraq crisis is building an Iran-Assad-Russia-U.S. alignment that no one would have thought possible.

“In Iraq, that’s certainly true,” Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer told Business Insider. “But it doesn’t change the Obama administration’s position on Syria. There’s great skepticism of working broadly with Iran, and nobody wants to distract from the nuclear deal on that front.”

The current situation is especially complicated as U.S. and other world powers are negotiating a deal aimed at controlling Iran’s nuclear program by a July 20 deadline ; the Syrian civil war, now more than three and half years old, is still getting worse; and Moscow continues to facilitate Russian fighters and weapons entering East Ukraine.

The complexity is personified by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a sectarian-minded Shiite who the U.S. blames for much of the deterioration in the country. Nevertheless, Washington is currently helping Maliki, who is backed by Iran, by sending at least 500 U.S. armed forces and through other methods like intelligence gathering .

In short, everything in the region is blending together. And the new, awkward alignments may be a reflection of the Obama administration’s pursuit of relative non-involvement in Middle East affairs. “The more important driver of policy is the general opposition to taking a leadership role on these crises — the risk aversion,” Bremmer noted.

‘Obama supports Iran’
Other experts believe that the U.S. has not only stepped back from the region, but has also actively sided with Iran in the process.

Mike Doran, a senior fellow of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, describes the mayhem engulfing the Middle East as “a struggle over the regional order” among three sides: ” Shiite Iran and its proxies; ISIS and likeminded Sunni extremists; and the traditional allies of the United States: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel.”

The key question is where the White House stands in regards to the conflict. And the answer is startling to America’s old friends. “Obama supports Iran,” Doran wrote. “One can argue about whether this pro-Iran tilt is accidental or intentional, but one cannot deny its existence.”

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has been calling Washington’s alignment with Iran and Hezbollah “an open secret” since January. Fast forward to June, and the Obama administration finds itself trying to sell a policy that seemingly disregards the concerns of Sunni regional powers.

The result is that Washington appears to be acting on the Shite side of an increasingly sectarian war that will continue for the foreseeable future.

“This outcome bodes ill for the United States,” Doran concluded. “But it will be especially dangerous for those countries that the U.S. used to call allies: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, to name just three. Israel is in particular peril. American policy is partitioning Syria between Iran and the global jihadis—the two worst enemies of the Jewish state, now digging in right across its northern border. There can be no happy ending to this story.”

Obama’s Foreign Policy Is Forming Alliances We Never Thought Possible – Yahoo Finance.

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Our Friends the Mullahs

Updated June 18, 2014 7:03 p.m. ET

Such is America’s strategic disarray in Iraq that the Obama Administration has come up with a new version of an old idea—court Iran as an ally. So in order to defeat Sunni extremists who want to form a potentially terrorist state, we are going to get in bed with a terrorist-sponsoring Shiite regime that wants to dominate the Middle East.

“Let’s see what Iran might or might not be willing to do before we start making any pronouncements,” Secretary of State John Kerry told Yahoo News on Monday in discussing a rapprochement with the mullahs. “I think we are open to any constructive process here that could minimize the violence, hold Iraq together—the integrity of the country—and eliminate the presence of outside terrorist forces that are ripping it apart.”

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The mullahs must be astonished at their strategic good fortune. A year ago they were isolated by global sanctions and scrambling to save their endangered client Bashar Assad in Syria. Then President Obama agreed to spare Assad’s airfields from bombing in return for promising to give up his chemical arms. The chemicals aren’t all gone, but Assad has used the reprieve to retake much of the country.

Now the sanctions on Iran have been eased as part of nuclear talks, and the U.S. is negotiating to be the air force for Iran’s Quds Force that is helping to prop up the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. This is the same Quds Force that fashioned the deadly roadside bombs that killed so many Americans after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It is the same Quds Force that arms Hezbollah and Hamas to attack Israel, and the same Quds Force that planned to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. in a Washington, D.C., restaurant. In last year’s report on “state sponsors of terrorism,” Mr. Kerry’s State Department noted that the Quds Force “is the [Iran] regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.”

America does have an interest in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has captured much of Sunni Iraq. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. has shared interests with Iran in the region. The mullahs consider America the “great Satan” for a reason. The U.S. lost 4,489 troops and spent billions of dollars to make Iraq a unitary, Western-leaning and independent state. Iran wants the Shiite portions of Iraq as a satrapy.

Iran doesn’t want the Maliki government to fall, but its approach to ISIS is opportunistic. Early in the war and surely with Tehran’s consent, Assad freed Sunni Islamists from his jails and let in foreign fighters. As he knew, the West would be more reluctant to support an extremist opposition. Assad has spared ISIS from his bombing, seeing the moderate Free Syria Army as the greater threat. This is one reason ISIS has been able to create a sanctuary in northeastern Syria that has in turn helped it amass strength in northwestern Iraq.

A Sunni extremist haven in northern Syria and Iraq doesn’t necessarily undercut Iran’s goal of regional dominance. Its more important victory would be securing even greater influence over the Shiite-dominant portion of Iraq from Baghdad south through the oil fields of Basra and the Persian Gulf.

This would provide strategic depth and sources of revenue. It would also further frighten America’s friends in Israel, as well as our Sunni Arab allies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states who will conclude that they must come to terms with a new regional hegemon. The result could be a de facto division of Iraq into three countries—Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite—and a new and greater instability.

No doubt some in the Administration, including President Obama, welcome the outreach to Tehran as a giant step closer to signing a nuclear-weapons deal. But that, too, serves Iran’s interests more than America’s. Our guess is that America’s pleading to Iran for help in Iraq will only make the mullahs more likely to drive a harder nuclear bargain.

The munchkin Metternichs in the White House have even grander ambitions of a U.S.-Iran alliance that will remake the world balance of power like Nixon’s breakthrough with China during the Cold War. But that U.S. diplomacy was done to separate a weak China from America’s overriding adversary in Moscow. The U.S. was later pushed from Vietnam but stayed in force in Asia. Mr. Obama’s courting of Iran is intended to make it easier to fulfill his desire to retreat from the region.

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This outreach to Iran smacks mostly of strategic desperation. It is what an Administration does when it realizes its policy has failed and the damage to U.S. interests is becoming too obvious to hide from the American public. His abdication on Syria created a mecca for jihadists and his total withdrawal from Iraq created a vacuum for regional sectarians and Iran to fill.

Mr. Obama could still save Mr. Maliki and reclaim U.S. influence with a diplomatic and military intervention of the kind that Danielle Pletka and Jack Keane laid out in these pages on Tuesday. But if would have to be a large enough intervention to convince Mr. Maliki that it was worth making political compromises with his Kurdish and Sunni opponents. Nothing in Mr. Obama’s more than five years as President suggests he will do anything close. So a-courting the mullahs he goes.

Our Friends the Mullahs – WSJ.

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