Saturday, November 28, 2020

Biden's Middle East Policy

Yesterday, the lead scientist in Iran’s nuclear weapons program was assassinated on a street in Tehran. No one mourned the death of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, except perhaps for Barack Obama’s CIA director, John Brennan, a man who clearly sides with the mullahs against American interests.

Brennan was terrified that the awesomely powerful Iranian regime will retaliate before the Biden administration has a chance to undo the progress that the Trump administration has made in the Middle East.

Yet, even before it takes power, the Biden foreign policy team has already stepped in to undermine a potential detente between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

No significant agreements came from the recent meeting between the Israeli prime minister and the Saudi crown prince. Clearly, the Trump administration had wanted something, but just as clearly, the Saudi crown prince needed to respect the wishes of the incoming administration.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew into Saudi Arabia last weekend for a secret nighttime rendezvous with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, he and his allies in Washington hoped to win assurances that a normalization deal between the two longtime Middle East rivals was in reach, Saudi advisers and U.S. officials said.

Instead, after the meeting the Israeli leader returned home empty-handed and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Saudi Arabia at the time as well, watched as a potential capstone to the Trump administration’s efforts to reorder the politics of the region and build a bulwark against Iran slipped from his grasp, the advisers and officials said.

U.S. officials had hoped to build on the momentum of the so-called Abraham Accords, which formalized ties between Israel and two other Gulf Arab states, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and remove the biggest remaining barrier to Israel’s diplomatic integration into the region—a central part of President Trump’s effort to contain Tehran.

But Prince Mohammed pulled back from a deal, according to the Saudi advisors and U.S. officials, largely because of the U.S. election result. Saudi aides said the prince, eager to build ties with the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden, was reluctant to take the step now, when he could use a deal later to help cement relations with the new American leader.

Obviously, the Saudi leader needed to take the measure of the incoming administration. And the incoming administration did not want any more alliances between Israel and Gulf Arab states. It was Biden’s gift to his many Jewish supporters.

As a further gift to said supporters, the Biden administration will now do everything in its power to save the mullahs.

The Journal editorializes about the success that the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign has had:

The sanctions have succeeded in weakening the rogue regime. Today Tehran exports about a quarter of the 2.5 million barrels of oil a day it shipped when the U.S. was still in the deal. This deprives the government of $50 billion in annual revenue. The economy has shrunk, while the Iranian rial has lost 80% of its value against the dollar.

Of course, pusillanimous European nations have maintained their adherence to the deal. The Iranians, not so much. In truth, the Iranians have never lived according to the deal. Only brain dead America liberals believe that they have done so.

Iran has responded by increasing its violations of the nuclear deal. It now has 12 times the limit of enriched uranium allowed under the accord, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said this month. It also is enriching uranium to 4.5% purity, above the 3.67% allowed under the deal but far from the 90% concentration needed for a bomb.

Of course, the original deal allows Iran to build nuclear weapons within a few years. It also gave Iran cash to promote terrorism. Another great victory for the Obama presidency-- one that clearly undermined Israel and Sunni Arab states.

The original nuclear deal makes it easy for Iran to break out as its provisions sunset over the next decade. Meanwhile, it provided cash for Iran to expand its regional influence and terrorism. After signing the 2015 deal, Iran increased its military budget more than 30% between 2016 and 2018, and its proxies in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen benefited.

So, Biden might well want to return to the nuclear deal, because he considers it a crowning achievement of the Obama presidency:

The Middle East has also changed for the better since Democrats were last in charge. Israel and the Sunni Arab states are normalizing relations after decades of conflict, and one reason is their shared worry about Iran. The Arab-Israeli conflict over Palestine is no longer the dominant issue.

President Trump gave both sides assurance that the U.S. is on their side, in contrast to Barack Obama’s loud disdain and his strategic embrace of Iran. If Mr. Biden rushes head-long back into the nuclear deal, he runs the risk of blowing up that regional progress.

Why would Mr. Biden want to throw that away? We understand the emotional attachment that Mr. Sullivan and other Biden advisers have for the 2015 nuclear deal. But time and Iranian behavior have exposed that deal as even worse than it looked at the time. Mr. Biden’s foreign-policy team should be thankful for the stronger hand Mr. Trump is leaving them.

Time will tell, but the indications do not look good today.


Sam L. said...

"Why would Mr. Biden want to throw that away? We understand the emotional attachment that Mr. Sullivan and other Biden advisers have for the 2015 nuclear deal."
Why, you ask? Because "ORANGEMAN BAD, BAD, BAD!!!111!!!!!!

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