Is the U.S. Leaning toward Shiite Iran?

(Washington Post) Jackson Diehl - After Saudi Arabia's execution of a Shiite cleric was followed by militants sacking the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, the State Department carefully refrained from blaming the regime of Ayatollah Khamenei for the violence and adopted a neutral position on the bilateral dispute - an extraordinary stance given the decades of U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia and enmity with the Islamic Republic. It quickly became clear that the White House's overwhelming priority boiled down to avoiding any words or action that would disrupt the ongoing implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal. That was of a piece with its last-minute retreat on Dec. 30 from imposing sanctions on Tehran for missile launches and a promise to waive new congressional restrictions on visas for foreigners who visited Iran. The embarrassing retreat from imposing missile sanctions was particularly damaging. The administration first accused Tehran of violating a UN Security Council resolution linked to the nuclear deal by testing long-range missiles, then pulled back a relatively mild set of financial penalties on companies and individuals hours after notifying Congress they were coming. The resulting message is that Washington lacks the will to punish Iran for clear violations. If the bloodletting is to end, minorities - whether Sunni or Shiite, Christian or Kurd - must gain basic rights. It means abandoning the impractical and immoral position that reconstituting Iraq and Syria takes precedence over allowing a Kurdish homeland. And it means removing the vicious regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose crimes against humanity are responsible for much of the chaos.

2016-01-12 00:00:00

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