America Makes a Pro-Iranian U-Turn in the Middle East

(Tablet) Tony Badran - The first thing the Obama Administration did following the recent burning of the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran by a state-sponsored mob was to launch a media campaign pushing the message that the problem was actually Saudi Arabia. The foundation of the new American-approved security framework for the region is the legitimization of Iranian spheres of influence, especially in Iraq and Syria. President Obama has repeatedly described this new structure as establishing "equilibrium" between "the Shiites," which means Iran, and "the Sunnis," primarily meaning the Saudis. Iran has naturally been seizing the opportunity to leverage U.S. support to advance its own regional interests, which happen to run squarely against the traditional American alliance system. Iran is a revolutionary actor, whose expressed objective is to overturn the existing order and replace it with Iranian hegemony. Iranian impunity is not a function of Iran's actual military power vis-a-vis the U.S. Rather, it emanates from the Iranian understanding that Obama wants to extricate the U.S. from the region, has no interest in maintaining the old American order, and is therefore willing to recognize Iran's position at the head of the regional table. Hence, the administration has found itself repeatedly acting as Iran's lawyer, excusing and justifying its behavior, legitimizing its ambitions, and instead lashing out at old regional allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Yet there is nothing very appealing to most Americans about the prospect of making a pro-Iranian U-turn in U.S. foreign policy. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2016-02-08 00:00:00

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