Why the Iranians Are Smiling
November 24, 2014, looms as a strategic date in world history. At that time, a deadline for a deal with Iran will be reached. And, even though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, has said “no deal is better than a bad deal,” it appears as if President Obama’s team and the so-called P5+1 group — the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany – are seeking any deal rather than no deal.
There is no surprise at the rising confidence of the Iranian government. Without the slightest fanfare or notice by the international press, Shia rebels supported by Iran captured the capital city of Sana’a in Yemen. This extraordinary geostrategic move gives Iran entrance to the Red Sea. Along with its command of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, Iran will be in a position to control the sea lanes surrounding the Arab world.
With Beirut, Baghdad, Damascus, and Sana’a under Iranian control and influence, the dream of a Shia Crescent appears as a reality. Moreover, with Yemen on the door step of Saudi Arabia, Iran has an ideal staging area for attacks against its main Sunni rival.
Through its virtual silence, the United States is complicit in these actions. Since Mr. Obama will not deploy U.S. ground forces in the war against ISIS, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is considered a surrogate army, even though no one in the U.S. State Department will admit to the concession. Iran’s role as a putative “stabilizer” in the roiling Middle East offers it enormous latitude at the Vienna negotiating table where a decision will be made about Iran’s nuclear capability.
Despite a bipartisan U.S. Congressional declaration opposing any deal that permits Iran to have or develop nuclear weapons, it appears as if the negotiating team representing the U.S. and most of the Europeans are willing to split the difference. In other words, there is a growing consensus that if Iran agrees not to weaponize its missiles at its Parchin military base, it would be allowed to retain enough enriched uranium to build a bomb at a later date. That’s what I have described as the “Japanese solution,” i.e. Article 9 in the Japanese Constitution prohibits the development of nuclear weapons, but it does not prohibit the storage of fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons.
I doubt Israel or France will be enthused by this agreement, but the Obama team seems intent on muscling this through, even ignoring Senate approval. All through the talks the word “treaty” has been replaced by “agreement” or “accord.” Presumably, this would be the Obama legacy.
Mr. Obama will contend that through skillful negotiation rather than saber rattling or direct confrontation, he has reached an accord with our primary enemy in the Middle East. Many will appropriately call this agreement a Chamberlain-like arrangement that brings the Middle East closer to the boiling point.
One thing is for sure: this will bring Iran one step closer to its goal of Middle East domination.
Surely, the Sunni states won’t sit by idly. Already Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait ,and Jordan have announced joint military operations to oppose Shia imperial goals. And, it would not be a surprise if Israel, operating under the radar, agrees to be an active, albeit unregistered member of this emerging defense condominium.
Although the U.S. will contend its intention is to mitigate Middle East tensions, those tensions will rise as a hesitant and willful policy tilting to the Shia is put in place by the Obama Administration and European governments eager for resolution, any resolution.
Unfortunately, the clock is ticking and the options are limited. A sanctions regimen offers some leverage, but probably less than has been advertised, since sanctions already in place have not deterred the Iranian government from proceeding with its enrichment program. It is also obvious that even if the U.S. goes through another round of sanctions, assuming a deal isn’t consummated, the Chinese, Russians, and Turks are not likely to comply.
So, we are spiraling down a dangerous hole that makes military action more than less likely in the future – an option that no one wants to embrace. Unfortunately, the forces of history proceed without an ethical compass.
DR. HERBERT LONDON, president of the London Center for Policy Research, is co-author with Jed Babbin of “The BDS War Against Israel.”