Dealing with Iran

In its single-minded pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration has adopted a Syria-policy rich in rhetoric and empty of real action.

August 23, 2015 21:56
3 minute read.
Kerry and Zarif in Vienna

Secretary Kerry Poses for a Group Photo With Fellow EU, P5+1 Foreign Ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif After Reaching Iran Nuclear Deal. (photo credit: STATE DEPARTMENT PHOTO)

Since July 14, when the six nations of the world announced they had formulated an agreement with Iran on its nuclear weapons program, criticism of the deal’s many lacunas has been articulated in great detail.

The mullah regime was not required to fess up to its past transgressions as part of its march to develop a nuclear bomb; instead of neutralizing and dismantling the Iranian nuclear weapons project, as was originally promised, the US-led P5+1 have settled for freezing and inspecting it; the Iranians are being allowed to continue their research and development of ever-faster centrifuges, despite promises to the contrary. And the list of inadequacies goes on.

But in addition to the many holes in the Iranian nuclear deal itself, there are also a number of side-effects to the deal that have direct and severe implications for regional stability and Israel’s security.

One negative side-effect is an expected escalation in the North, the first signs of which could be witnessed last Thursday, when four rockets fired from Syria landed in Northern Galilee and the Golan Heights.

The IDF said the rocket fire was made possible with “Iranian money and intentions.”

Speaking during a visit to the IDF’s Northern Command headquarters last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the deal, if finalized would enable the Islamic Republic to escalate tensions on Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria.

“What we have said all along has turned out to be accurate,” Netanyahu said, referring to his opposition to the nuclear agreement between world powers and Tehran.

“The money that will flow to Iran-sponsored terrorist organizations will be used for one stated purpose – to destroy Israel.”

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon tied expectations of future escalations in the North to the finalizing of the Iranian deal.

“Representatives of the Revolutionary Guards are, in fact, waiting for the implementation of this bad deal with world powers, in order to bring more money to Hezbollah, more to other terror groups – in both the Golan Heights and the Palestinian arena.”

Another negative side-effect of the Iran deal is the US’s purposely passive position on the civil war raging in Syria out of desire not to jeopardize relations with the mullahs of the Islamic Republic and ruin chances of reaching a deal.

On August 16, for instance, the Syrian regime bombed a vegetable market in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, slaughtering more than 100 Syrian civilians and wounding some 300 more. Many of the victims were children; it was one of the deadliest airstrikes of a long and brutal war, and it was not the first atrocity committed by the Iran-backed Assad regime.

President Barack Obama’s administration reacted with its usual pantomime of outrage. But behind the words of condemnation, the condolences for the families of the victims and a plea that the international community to do more to stop the bloodshed, there was little substance.

In its single-minded pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration has adopted a Syria-policy rich in rhetoric and empty of real action.

The result has been the gradual but steady strengthening of the Islamic State.

As Frederic C. Hof noted recently in Foreign Policy: “Every barrel bomb dropped on defenseless civilians by regime helicopters is a recruiting gift to Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of a vicious criminal enterprise that combines the worst aspects of al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein’s Baathism. Every Syrian child killed by barrel bombs or starved to death by regime sieges convinces others that if the ‘international community’ can muster nothing but words, perhaps the self-styled caliph can offer protection. Eager to help rid its Syrian client of credible, nationalistic opponents, Iran consciously supports a program of mass murder that only gives Baghdadi power in Syria and in the Sunni Muslim world at large.”

As members of the US Congress and the leaders of the other P5+1 nations review the pros and cons of the Iran deal, they should take into consideration not just the many lacunas in the fine print but the ramifications of an Islamic Republic unrestrained by sanctions and treated with kid gloves by the US and other foreign powers.

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