web analytics
October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Persian Gulf countries’

Iranian FM on Regional Tour to ‘Sell’ Nuclear Deal

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif set out on a three-stop tour of the region Sunday to begin an effort to “sell” the P5+1 nuclear deal to skeptical Arab nations in the Middle East.

A number of countries in addition to Israel harbor grave doubts about Iran’s motivations for making the deal, let alone its ability to stick to the terms of the agreement. Among those who view the deal with extreme caution are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bahrain is also giving the accord a second look, but finds itself in a difficult position. Host to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the country can hardly say it lacks for protection from Iranian aggression – even nuclear aggression.

That didn’t stop Iran from providing covert assistance and strong encouragement to a Shi’ite-led opposition movement within Bahrain during the Arab Spring. Nor has it apparently stopped Iran from sponsoring nascent terror operations in the country.

A smuggling ring was recently caught trying to bring weapons, ammunition and explosives into the kingdom; authorities told reporters that two of the suspects caught in the sting were Bahraini nationals who received military training in Iran, and who confessed to receiving the contraband from “Iranian handlers.”

Nevertheless, in a speech earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei included Bahrain in the list of “regional friends” Iran would continue to support despite its nuclear deal, along with Yemen, Syria, Iraq and “the oppressed Palestinian nation.”

But Bahrain was not Zarif’s itinerary: on Saturday, Manama announced it was recalling its ambassador to Iran for consultations in the wake of “continued hostile statements made by Iranian officials toward Bahrain,” according to the official Bahrain News Agency.

Zarif began his tour with a visit to Kuwait, where he was greeted by Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah in a red-carpet welcome at the airport. Within hours Zarif was in talks with Kuwait’s head of state, emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

The Iranian diplomat is slated to travel to Qatar and then to Iraq, where he will brief the heads of state in both countries – as he has in Kuwait – on the details of the nuclear deal Iran signed with the U.S.-led delegation of world powers. According to Iranian state-run media, Zarif will also discuss ways to “improve cooperation and fight terrorism” as well.

In the case of Qatar, Iran shares with Doha control over a huge underwater natural gas field, the development of which may come up for discussion due to the imminent lifting of sanctions as part of the deal that was signed.

With regard to Baghdad, Iran months ago sent its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps and other troops to battle Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists which currently control one-third of that country. Most of the Iraqi territory that is not controlled by Da’esh at this point is controlled by Iran.

“Iran and the regional countries are facing common threats that should be confronted through mutual cooperation,” Zarif said, according to the Iranian FARS news agency.

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/obamas-foreign-fiasco/2013/08/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: