In my last blog, I suggested that the Obama administration does not have a coherent strategy for the Middle East. Egypt was the case in point. Let’s turn our attention to another of the major burning sights that has ramifications for the entire world. Iran.
America’s game-plan that brought Iran to the bargaining table did not sit well with Saudi Arabia (to put it mildly). The Saudi’s are struggling to figure out what in the world America is doing. They were stunned by the 1lth-hour pullback from a military strike in Syria when Putin (of all people) pulled Obama out of the fire because of his vacillating behavior over a period of several months. Moreover, the Saudi’s were angry when America abandoned Hosni Mubarak who had been America’s long time ally and friend.
In Riyadh, the result of this vacillation has created a crisis of confidence in America’s actions and intentions. The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies reports that Saudi Arabia is now reassessing whether America can be a trusted ally and considering distancing themselves. The new questioning posture is another indication of how indecision leads to chaos.
And what about Iran?
Considerable angst has spread over the Middle East with President Hassan Rouhanni viewed as the victory in the recent negotiations in Geneva that led to the possibility of sanctions being lifted. Secretary of State John Kerry is not seen as the hero. The concern is that the agreement totally ignored the political realities within Iran. The current regime continues to repress its own people as well as export violence across the Middle East. The December 15, 2013 edition of The New York Times ran a story on the continued house arrest of two political leaders. Mir Hussein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi were former presidential candidates and opposition leaders jailed for no other reason that their political position. This action would be the equivalent of putting Al Gore or John McClain in jail after they lost the election. Sounds like the same old Iran–Revolutionary Guard and all.
Here’s the kicker. Analysts in the Middle East are raising questions about what American is actually about. Could the United States be working to cut some variety of self-serving deal with Iran? Sounds bizarre but — Michael Doran of the Brooking Institute recently suggested that Washington is in the first phase of seeking a “strategic partnership” with Iran as part of a quest for regional stability.
You think that doesn’t make the Israeli’s quiver? Some voices have suggested that Washington is actively seeking to rein in Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan because he favors a hard line against Iran. While this report has not been varied, it reflects that current prevailing attitude.
Is it possible that Secretary of State John Kerry is double-dealing with very different intentions that what appears on the surface? I have always hated these “behind-the-scenes” accusations that tend to foster suspicion. However, concerned and informed observers must keep their eyes on these possibilities.
They are not good.