Washington: Arab Spring advances US's Iran policy

“Change in the Middle East is working against Iran, it can work for the United States,” says senior Obama adviser.

May 7, 2012 03:25
2 minute read.
President Obama, Denis Mcdonough and others

President Obama, Denis Mcdonough and others. (photo credit: Reuters/Pete Souza/White House/Handout)


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WASHINGTON – A top White House official said Sunday that the political transformation in the Middle East enhances America’s interests and helps advance its Iran policy.

“We believe the policy that we are pursuing [on Iran] is working,” said Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough, speaking at a Washington Institute for Near East Policy conference.

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“While the change in the Middle East is working against Iran, it can work for the United States,” he said. “A more democratic region will ultimately be more stable for us and our friends.”

According to McDonough, the transition in Egypt is the most important in the region, and “the United States has supported this transition because it is consistent with our values and our interests.”

When asked whether the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise could work against that and even represent a dictatorial form of government, the adviser acknowledged the complications the Islamic group could present to American policy.

“Our eyes are wide open about all the challenges in Egypt and the challenges with many of the parties,” he said.

At the same time, McDonough assessed that actual governance “requires greater transparency, undercutting the ability of any individual or particular party to be dictatorial.”

He added, “There will be tremendous pressure on whoever the next government is to live up to the standards of the international community.”

He was also asked about the relationship between his boss, US President Barack Obama, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

He described the fraught, tense relationship reflected in the media as a “fundamentally distorted” image akin to the one created by “fun-house mirrors.”

Instead, he said the two men have a good “working relationship” and can jump right into business because Obama has met with Netanyahu so many times – more than any other leader.

He also pointed to close coordination on Iran.

“We are in very close consultation with our Israeli friends,” he said, adding that the two parties share an “almost identical” timeline.

At the panel preceding McDonough’s address, former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin was questioned about critiques that other intelligence officials who have recently left the government have made of Netanyahu’s Iran policy and why he himself has stayed silent.

Yadlin said there was a distinction between those who are elected by the people and those who were appointed.

The latter, he said, should wait at least a year before speaking out.

Even then, when they do speak, he said, “they should be very careful.”

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