As the U.S. Loses Regional Clout, Iran Expands Its Ambitions

(Wall Street Journal) Aaron David Miller - In the Middle East, strength and negotiating acumen are prized; they demonstrate power and credibility. Meanwhile, the Obama administration's handling of its $400 million cash payment to Iran in January plays into the narrative that the U.S. is weak. Iran is cementing ties with its friends - Russia, Turkey, Hizbullah, Iraqi militias that support Iran, and the Assad regime - while the U.S. is losing regional clout by becoming estranged from its friends, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia, also because of the nuclear accord. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is tripping over itself trying to explain how and why it didn't pay ransom as Iranian hard-liners contend that that is precisely what happened. Iran isn't 10 feet tall. But in a region of weak Arab states, alongside a Russia willing to assert its power, and a Washington constrained by a nuclear accord that has expanded Iran's ambitions, Tehran is a force to be reckoned with. This will be the case even more when the constraints on its nuclear program begin to sunset in a few years. The writer is a vice president at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars.

2016-08-24 00:00:00

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