Iran recently rejected a draft proposal from the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia, under which the U.S. would return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) in exchange for Iran’s full compliance with the limitations of that deal.
Once Iran and the U.S. return to the resuscitated JCPOA, the Biden administration pledges to negotiate a “longer and stronger” deal, acknowledging the 2015 agreement is flawed.
The Biden administration was anxious to secure Iran’s approval prior to the June Iranian presidential election because it anticipated, correctly, that Ayatollah Khamenei would install a hardliner to replace Iran’s pro-engagement president Rouhani.
It seems that Iran is in no rush, preferring to let the Americans cool their heels a bit before pocketing additional money bribes and sanction relief likely to be offered by negotiators willing to sacrifice leverage for good-faith gestures. After nixing the draft proposal, Ayatollah Khamenei expressed his hatred of Westerners, claiming they are “enemies” who take advantage of others.
President Biden’s negotiating team, all former Obama administration members, had already offered significant inducements to get Tehran to cooperate, including sanction relief, which U.S. Special Envoy to Iran Robert Malley had previously expressed an eagerness to do in an April interview on PBS.
A return to the 2015 JCPOA gives Western approval for Iran to become a nuclear state by 2031, with restraints starting to expire in 2024.
Why is the Biden administration so eager to lift the punishing Trump sanctions which forced Iran into an economic depression and created widespread civil unrest to entice Iran back into a 2015 deal they admit is flawed and empowers Iran to become a nuclear state?
According to Michael Doran of the Hudson Institute and Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Mr. Biden’s foreign policy team intends to implement Obama’s vision: Recognize Iran’s “equities” in the region, empower Iran as America’s strategic partner, and weaken America’s traditional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to establish a new regional power balance.
Doran and Badran believe this “Realignment” is the primary focus for the Biden administration and the JCPOA is the vehicle for sidelining Iran’s nuclear program out of the “main lanes of U.S.-Iranian relations,” thereby creating “political and diplomatic space for greater interaction between Washington and Tehran fundamental [to] building a new regional order.”
They suggest Biden’s team believes this can best be achieved by camouflaging it with calculated confusion and obfuscation regarding the 2015 deal.
In 2019, Malley, chief implementer of the Obama Iran policy, wrote that Obama was a “gradualist” who presided over “an experiment that got suspended halfway through.” He continued, “When it came to…the Middle East, Obama’s presidency was premised on the belief that someone else would pick up where he left off.” The Biden administration is doing just that.
The Biden Middle East negotiators believe America has a binary choice: war or a realignment of power. Malley opined that the U.S. must pursue diplomacy to achieve “balance.” This means preventing traditional allies from boxing Washington into an anti-Iran position. “The United States [is] just one poorly-timed… Houthi drone strike, or one … Israeli operation against a Shiite militia away from…entanglement,” according to Malley.
Obama claimed that our regional allies “exploit American ‘muscle’ for their own narrow and sectarian ends.” Then-vice president Biden echoed this belief: “Our biggest problem [in the Middle East] is our allies.”
President Biden immediately removed the Iran-supported Houthis from our terrorist list and shelved a Trump arms deal with the Saudis. Biden is aligning with Iran on Yemen, just as Obama aligned with Iran on Syria.
Biden’s national security advisor Jake Sullivan, a member of the Iran negotiating team, advocated in May 2020 that there are few vital American interests in the Middle East sufficient to warrant risking war with Iran. He urged the reduction of tensions instigated by our regional allies to achieve a “new modus vivendi” or balance among the key regional actors.
“To this end,” he insisted, “the Saudis must make serious…efforts to end the Yemen war and de-escalate with Iran.”
The Biden administration is determined to restrain the Israelis to the benefit of Iran. Washington’s disapproval of Israeli strikes against Iranian militias in Syria prompted the Russians to close Syrian air space to Israeli planes. This Biden action greatly benefits Iran and is a strategic blow to Israel.
It is reminiscent of Obama subverting Israeli operations by leaking to the press the details of covert strikes.
While the Biden foreign policy team claims publicly that it supports the popular Abraham Accords, the administration has not taken action to encourage Saudi Arabia to join — a move which would strengthen the anti-Iran axis and threaten the “Realignment” itself.
The folly of the Biden administration is believing, as former President Obama did, that the leaders in Tehran are “strategic,” rational people who “respond to costs … benefits” and “incentives” and desire to, as Obama said, “get right with the world.”
The fundamentalist, religious Iranian mullahs who stone people to death, throw gays off rooftops and cut off limbs have only one desire: to spread their radical Shiite religious revolution across the Middle East and beyond.
Instead of supporting a multilateral alliance with our traditional allies, the Biden administration has opted to complete what Obama started — dubbed by Tony Badran an “Alice in Wonderland fantasy.” With that decision, we fell down a “rabbit hole” into a fairy tale of Obama’s fantastical delusions about achieving peace and stability by empowering an Islamist terror state with hegemony in the Middle East.
Lewis Carroll called Alice in Wonderland a dream. Unfortunately, this dream will likely become a nightmare.
Ziva Dahl is a senior fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Ziva writes and lectures about U.S.-Israel relations, U.S. foreign policy, Israel, Zionism, Antisemitism and BDS on college campuses. Her articles have appeared in such publications as The Hill, New York Daily News, New York Observer, The Washington Times, American Spectator, American Thinker and Jerusalem Post. Read Ziva Dahl's Reports — More Here.
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