Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clinton On Iran: Putting The Cart Before The Camel

Once again, if there is trouble in the Middle East--Israel is to blame. While appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, Hillary Clinton indicated that  while she sympathizes with Israel's wariness about Iran--
...she then cautioned that Israel was unlikely to gain support for thwarting Iran unless there were visible efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood.

"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it's looking for vis-a-vis Iran it can't stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinian and the peace efforts, that they go hand-in-hand," Clinton said.

Clinton noted that every Arab official she has met with "wants very much to support the strongest possible policy toward Iran." But, she said, "they believe that Israel's willingness to reenter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran."
That's right, although it is true that Iran is a threat not only to Israel but to the entire region as a whole, the Arabs cannot face up to the Iranian threat until and unless Israel agrees to negotiate with the PA for the creation of a second Palestinian state--only then will the Arab world be able to confront Iran head on.

First of all, why would the Arabs need the Israel to first negotiate with Abbas--how is that really supposed to strengthen the resolve of the Arab world? Secondly, there are indications that what is making the Arab world uncomfortable in dealing with Iran has nothing to do with Israel at--what is making the Arab world uncomfortable is the US:
Arab governments have been seeking assurances from Mr. Ross and other U.S. officials that Washington's overtures toward Iran won't undercut their security interests, U.S. and Arab diplomats said. The Arab governments are asking the U.S. to consult regularly with them as President Barack Obama seeks to hold high-level negotiations with Tehran aimed at ending its nuclear activities.

"The discomfort among the Arabs is quite real. They have deep anxieties about Iran," said a senior U.S. official working on the country. "The first thing is to be in the position of consulting with them, and taking into effect their concerns."
Jennifer Rubin concludes:
Yes, the Arab states would like Ross to repeat the mantra that Israel must engage in “negotiations” with Palestinians (with whom exactly and to what end is unclear), but the gravamen of the Arab states’ concern is that Obama is engaged in an open-ended and foolhardy “talk” strategy with Iran while Iran pursues regional hegemony. Ross will try to convince them otherwise.

The bottom line: the Clintonian spin that Israel needs to shape up before Arab help on Iran is forthcoming is hogwash. If there is cause for concern among the Arab states it is Clinton’s boss and his penchant for denial about the intentions and behavior of rogue states.
Ed Morrissey is not so polite:
Arabs oppose Iranian hegemony for entirely selfish reasons; none of them want to live under a Persian thumb. That has nothing to do with Israel. If an American State Department can’t arrange Arab opposition to Iran, then they should quit in shame over their complete and abject incompetence. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a dumb excuse coming from State, and certainly not from a Secretary of State.
We have already seen the readiness of the Obama administration to lunge into major decisions--such as the stimilus package--without reading what it actually entails. Is the new US approach to the Middle East any different? How much attention is really being paid to the consequences of the actions that the US is preparing to take--consequences that could well be as severe as the economic ones that Americans now face?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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