congress holds up such communications as giving voice to those who stand to be most directly impacted by a rise in Iranian power or clout in the Middle East. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has complained that the planned speech appears to violate protocol whereby the leader of one country announces a planned visit to the leader of another. Tel Aviv has responded by saying that this is still Netanyahu’s intention, but the president’s distance from the planning process does help to highlight the rift that the Iranian issue is creating between the US executive and legislature.
Head of the Mossad emphasized in the meeting that the exceptional effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran in recent years are what brought Iran to the negotiating table,” that statement read. And on this basis it went on to express support for the proposed US sanctions legislation as a way of keeping up effective pressure on the Islamic Republic.
A blog post at Hot Air claims that it is possible that this statement only represents Netanyahu reining in rogue elements that had previously gone off script. But the post also says, “it is counterintuitive that Mossad would also oppose new sanctions designed to create an incentive for Iran to abide by the terms set in nuclear negotiations with Western powers,” especially if Mossad opposes a war in which Israel would become the primary front.
The Obama administration insists that triggered sanctions may ultimately trigger war with Iran, but the administration’s opponents note that this narrative seems to ignore the possibility that nuclear negotiations will fail in absence of added pressure on Iran, and that war would be the eventual result of that failure.
However, the administration has been receiving support from other foreign entities in its conflict with Congress over the sanctions issue. As an example, Reuters points to an op-ed by four European foreign policy officials in which the argue that new sanctions “would jeopardize our efforts at a critical juncture” and “might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far.”
This language seems to directly emulate the language used by Obama himself. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the four individuals who shares the byline for this Washington Post editorial is Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister of France, which has been consistently identified as the one member of the P5+1 group that is maintaining a harder stance than the United States.
Meanwhile, critics of the Obama administration’s approach note that the US position has weakened to the point that there are serious questions about what the current soft approach ultimately strives to accomplish. Western Journalism points out that Deputy Secretary of State Anthony Blinken admitted in this week’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting that Obama is no longer even pursuing a halt to Iran’s breakout capability. Rather, he is trying to “constrain the time in which the US will get notice of such breakout capability.” And for strong critics of the Iranian regime, this is certainly not enough.