Iran nukes: Obama is on a losing wicket
By : Linda S. Heard
While an Iranian parliamentarian close to the country’s Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei boasts that Tehran now controls four Arab capitals (Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus and Sanaa), the so-called Leader of the Free World attempts to ingratiate himself with the Iranian regime.
According to the Wall Street Journal, President Obama has penned four letters to Khamenei since he took office and thus far, has received no reply. The most recent sent in mid-October stresses upon the need for cooperation in defeating Daesh in Iraq at a time when there’s allegedly been a breakthrough in nuclear talks. The White House has refused to confirm or deny the missive’s existence, which speaks volumes in itself, but White House spokesman Josh Earnest did admit that there have been secret communications between the president and the Iranian leadership.
America’s allies in the region were not alerted of this new development in advance and neither was Congress. Unsurprisingly several influential lawmakers in the Republican-dominated House and Senate are livid.
Fox News quotes “a congressional source” saying the letter “would upset the inroads they’ve tried to make with the Sunni league” Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are also up in arms. “It’s outrageous that while the cries of moderate Syrian forces for great US assistance fell on deaf ears in the White House, President Obama is apparently urging the Ayatollah Khamenei to join the fight against ISIS.”
Indeed, predominantly Sunni Arab countries may well be alarmed at the idea of Iranian ground forces being invited onto Iraqi soil or Iranian forces strafing the skies over Baghdad where a Shiite government adopts the same foreign policy as the ayatollahs in Qom. It should not be forgotten that the ill-conceived Iraq War waged on trumped up pretexts, turned out to be a gift to Iran. And now, the US president seems bent on sealing the deal with a silk bow.
Iranian tanks rumbling over Iraqi soil is guaranteed to throw a match on the embers of sectarian conflict, would serve as a recruiting tool for Daesh and inflame Sunni tribes. Furthermore, this letter does nothing to allay the concerns of Gulf States that the US may be cooking up a Grand Bargain with Iran to act as its geopolitical proxy. Those fears are exacerbated by America’s pivot east; not to mention that the luster of Arab oil has diminished now that the US is on its way to becoming the world’s biggest oil producer. The question uppermost is this. Is Obama throwing Sunni States under an Iranian bus?
Well it has happened before. The Shah was the West’s man in the region until he became possessed with megalomania. It’s notable that both the US and Britain permitted the Shah to invade three UAE islands in 1971 while they were still under the UK’s protection as part of the Trucial States. London reneged on its commitments because its relationship with Iran was, at the time, considered to be more important.
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney made his feelings known in plain language. “That the President would write a letter of this nature, in effect legitimizing a nation and a leadership that is violating international norms and is threatening the world, is so far beyond the pale, I was stunned. I was speechless,” he said. “The right kind of approach in dealing with Iran is that we consider them a pariah, their leaders are shunned and we exert that kind of moral persuasion on them.” Romney ruled out partnering with Iran in the fight against Daesh saying Iranian support for the Assad regime that triggered the rise of the Islamic State.
It goes without saying that the Israelis are not amused. Ari Yashar writing in the Israeli daily Arutz Sheva highlights Khamenei’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction and has openly blamed the US for creating Daesh. “Obama has moved closer to Iran and…Its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah”, he writes, citing the Wall Street Journal as his source.
For sure, this will further strain Israel’s relations with the Obama administration and there is no doubt that those tensions will seep into Congress prompting largely pro-Israel lawmakers to go on the warpath.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers Iran to be an existential threat and says he will not accept any international deal that permits Iran to remain a nuclear threshold state.
Obama possesses a major failing. He can’t see the trees for the wood. He successfully leaned on Assad to relinquish his chemical weapons ignoring the thousands the regime kills using traditional methods. And now he’s focusing on Iran’s nuclear program with no regard for its determined ideological dissemination or the damage being done to Lebanon, Syria and Yemen by its militant proxies.
If and when nuclear talks with Iran reach successful fruition, when Tehran can look forward to sanctions being lifted in stages and eventually full diplomatic relations established with the US, Obama will have a major fight on his hands. If he chooses to bypass Congress on this, he had better put on a flak jacket to protect him from the verbal vitriol; if he seeks Congressional approval, he’s on a losing wicket from the get-go.