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Analysts Look Back on a Year’s Conflict Over US Policy Toward Iran

The article took no explicit position as to which side of that debate is in the right, but it highlighted the significance of a series of recent, high-profile decisions by the Obama administration, including its refusal to link recent Iranian ballistic missile tests to the nuclear deal, as well as its efforts to help Iranian business travelers to avoid the effects of new visa waiver restrictions instituted by Congress.

Each of these decisions has raised the ire of the vast majority of Republicans, as well as some congressional Democrats. Their response to Obama’s purportedly weak position on Iranian threats and violations has been widely expressed in the media. And as such, some recaps of the past year’s Iran policy developments have taken a markedly less neutral tone than Politico’s.

On Thursday, an article in Legal Insurrection made the claim that the week leading up to Christmas had been a “nightmare” for persons who had been consistently opposed to the nuclear agreement. In support of this, it cited the Obama administration’s apparent disregard of congressional statements on both the missile tests and the visa waiver program.

Meanwhile, criticisms of the administration’s dealing with these issues have continued to pour in, with the chorus of opponents to his recent strategies growing steadily larger. On Wednesday, The Tower reported that Michael McCaul, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives, had become one of the latest join the fray when he told the USA Today that visa waiver issue indicated that the Obama administration’s “continued capitulation to Iran continues to reach new lows.”

The Tower added that McCaul’s statements came on the same day as 20 other members of the House sent a letter stating that it was “beyond belief” that Iran’s preferences “would supersede a newly-enacted U.S. law designed to protect the American people from terrorism.” This clearly reflects the conclusion of the more general conclusion of the Legal Insurrection article, which claims that the administration has determined that avoiding offense to Iran is a more important goal than properly defending American national security and American interests.

The virtual non-response to Iran’s ballistic missile tests is a contributing factor in this conclusion. And critics of the administration have been suggesting for some time that this aversion to offending the Iranians could lead to the US being seriously taken advantage of, as Iran strives to extend its reach further into the Middle East and the world.

It is in order to avoid this outcome that many of the Obama administration’s opponents have taken such a strong stance against permissive US policy. This is true not only of congressmen and other persons in US government, but also of international activists and Iranian dissidents. On the eve of Christmas, National Council of Resistance of Iran President Maryam Rajavi issued a statement calling for Muslim-Christian cooperation for the sake of assuring that “2016 would be a year of unity and victory over Islamic extremism and especially the religious fascism ruling Iran.”

The NCRI has joined the majority of the US Congress in steadily opposing the nuclear agreement and resisting the Obama administration’s efforts to promote implementation even in the midst of purported Iranian violations of UN resolutions and the spirit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The dissident coalition has also cautioned against the prospect of considering Iran a partner in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – a prospect that Obama has been considering for some time.

In fact, this notion of regional partnership has been presented as a reason, alongside the defense of the nuclear deal, for Obama’s permissive policies and his apparent concerns about offending Tehran. But the NCRI and other commentators on the situation have insisted that legitimizing Iran’s role in Iraq and Syria could have disastrous consequences for the region and for global security.

This topic also was address in a comprehensive, end-of-year analysis, this one at Eurasia Review. The article looked closely at the high-profile conflict between Iran and ISIL and determined that Iran’s strategy in the region is aimed only at weakening the Sunni militant group, not destroying it. Such a strategy would help the Iranians to maintain a permanent foothold in regional conflict areas while giving those conflicts an increasingly sectarian dimension and ultimately making Iran indispensable to local forces.

Within this context, Eurasia Review reiterates the conclusion that partnership with Iran in the coming year would fan the flames of sectarian strife and an ongoing war, and would undermine American interests in a relatively stable Middle East where anti-Western sentiment can be reasonably undermined.


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