Why Obama keeps indulging Iran

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh


By : Dr. Majid Rafizadeh


Iran keeps breaking international law and U.N. Security Council resolutions, while U.S. President Barack Obama continues to capitulate to Tehran’s demands. What did he do when it intensified its military involvement in Syria? He invited Tehran to a peace conference on the conflict.

Iran imprisoned several U.S. citizens, but instead of pressuring Tehran Obama continued nuclear talks. Iran then arrested Dubai-based American businessman Siamak Namazi. Obama signs a nuclear deal with Tehran offering tremendous sanction relief, yet Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) immediately tests ballistic missiles several times, in violation of the nuclear deal and UNSC resolutions.

His continuous carrot-but-no-stick policy toward Iran has led it to believe there will be no consequences to its aggression and unlawful acts.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

The Obama administration tells Congress that new sanctions will be imposed on 11 entities and individuals in Iran. However, after Tehran responds by saying it will expedite its ballistic missile program, Obama postpones sanctions “indefinitely” pending “further diplomatic action.”

This week, after several regional countries downgraded or severed diplomatic ties with Tehran due to its violation of international obligations, defiant Iranian leaders unveiled and boasted about a new underground missile arsenal called Emad, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

In addition, the IRGC second-in-command, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, bragged about the number of missiles Iran has. Provocatively, Tehran also fired a rocket close to the U.S. aircraft carrier Harry Truman in the Straits of Hormuz. Iran keeps provoking, yet Obama and his Western allies keep looking the other way.

All carrot, no stick

His continuous carrot-but-no-stick policy toward Iran has led it to believe there will be no consequences to its aggression and unlawful acts. This defiance is shared by both moderates and hardliners.

Obama views the nuclear deal as his crowning foreign policy and Middle East accomplishment. He avoids taking any actions that might undermine the deal. This has led to continuous appeasement of Tehran, which will have severe repercussions for national and regional security.

Obama needs to realize that if one gives Tehran an inch, it takes a mile. Offering only carrots and rewards to Iran will not have the desired effect.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

Obama does not recognize that Iran needs the nuclear deal more than the United States does, for economic reasons. He needs to realize that if one gives Tehran an inch, it takes a mile. Offering only carrots and rewards to Iran will not have the desired effect.

Without an appropriate response from global powers and the international community toward Iran’s defiance, regional powers will feel forced to create a coalition to counterbalance its hegemonic ambitions. This will be a positive development as it will mark the emergence of solid regional leadership independent from global powers and their contradictory interests.

This does not mean that global powers will stop interfering in the region, but they will be more likely to calculate their policies more carefully – due to the independent regional coalition – before acting unilaterally.


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC. He can be contacted at: Dr.Rafizadeh@post.harvard.edu, or on Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh


Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in the Column section are their own and do not reflect RiyadhVision’s point-of-view.


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