As Iran nuke negotiations come down to wire, it’s clear Obama doesn’t have Israel’s back
President Barack Obama has, at least since 2012, claimed that he has Israel’s back regarding his engagement with Iran.
But as the Iran nuke negotiations move closer to an agreement, with reports it could happen by tomorrow, it is clear that Obama’s words are empty rhetoric.
In May ahead of his talk at a Washington D.C. synagogue, Obama said it once again, telling Jeffrey Goldberg, “It’s because I think they recognize, having looked at my history and having seen the actions of my administration, that I’ve got Israel’s back…”
Events of this past week gives lie to Obama’s contention. No this deal won’t make Israel safer. But let’s check what Iranians are saying.
Last week, for example, Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, someone often called a “moderate” and an ally of current president, Hassan Rouhani, threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”
In response to a question why the Zionist regime has done its best to prevent the path for reaching a nuclear agreement between Iran and the West, Ayatollah Rafsanjani said that even Tel Aviv knows well that Iran is not after acquiring nuclear weapons.
‘By doing so the Zionist wish to keep Iran engaged in problems permanently, knowing that the Islamic Republic’s political, economic, cultural and propagation status will all improve after such an agreement,’ he said.
Asked about the future of the Palestinian nation, Rafsanjani said that he still believes that eventually one day the forged and temporary Israeli entity, which is an alien existence forged into the body of a nation and a region be wiped off the map.
This is from an Iranian “news” site, it’s not something I’m making up. While Rafsanjani has been portrayed as a moderate who is on the outs with the hardliners in charge, he heads the Expediency Council, a group of advisers close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. So no Rafsanjani is no moderate and yes, he’s very much a part of hardliners running Iran.
A day later, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) issued a statement saying, “the strategy to destroy that regime is Muslims’ first priority.” “That regime,” is “the Zionist regime of Israel.” The IRGC is a powerful force in Iran and reports directly to Khamenei. It also is in charge of exporting Iran’s revolution. The IRGC’s Qods Force is commanded by the notorious Qassem Suleimani, who has been in charge of arranging the defense of Syria’s embattled President Bashar al-Assad and who control most of the Shiite militia in Iraq fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) there.
The IRGC, Reuters reported last week, will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the nuclear deal.
The Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), created by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, is more than just a military force. It is also an industrial empire with political clout that has grown exponentially in the last decade, benefiting from the favor of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself a former guardsman and, most recently, from the opportunities created by Western sanctions.
A Western diplomat who follows Iran closely told Reuters that the IRGC’s recent annual turnover from all of its business activities was estimated to be around $10-12 billion.
According to Reuters, that would mean that IRGC controls somewhere between one sixth and one seventh of Iran’s economy. An unidentified former Iranian official told Reuters, “Basically, sanctions were gradually making it impossible for even the IRGC to make money. That is why they support lifting sanctions — then they will earn money through their subcontractors when the economy flourishes.”
So the deal, aside from likely assuring that Iran will become a nuclear power, (remember Obama himself acknowledged that within 13 to 15 years, Iran could have a breakout time of zero), will strengthen one of the institutions in Iran’s government dedicated to the destruction of Israel.
In addition, outside of the nuclear deal, the Obama administration is careful not to challenge Iran in its foreign adventurism. For example, Tony Badran wrote last week that the United States is accepting Iran’s control over Syria.
An analogous process is at work in Syria. Having rejected the recommendation of its traditional allies that it help them remove the Assad regime, the White House has settled on a Syria policy that accepts an Iranian sphere of interest. On the one hand, the administration has opted to work with the Syrian Kurdish forces in the northeast of the country, enabling them to consolidate and connect two of their non-contiguous cantons. However, this policy is not borne of a commitment to Kurdish autonomy in Syria. Rather, it is a convenient option that enables the White House to sidestep the needs of Turkey and the Gulf states. But most importantly, it allows Obama to keep his commitment not to cross Iranian red lines pertaining to Assad and his enclave.
What are those red lines? Since 2012, Iran’s Plan B in Syria has been to secure core strategic territory in western Syria, and maintain contiguity with Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon. Though Obama’s policy has long recognized this Iranian zone of influence in Syria tacitly, the administration is increasingly signaling this recognition publicly.
Again, you might recall that an IRGC general was killed on the Syrian Golan Heights earlier this year, apparently working with Hezbollah to open a new front against Israel. And yes, last week, possibly in anticipation of a coming windfall, Iran agreed to extend a $1 billion line of credit to Syria.
So the nuclear deal will give the IRGC the funds to continue its war against Israel and Obama is allowing them to operate in Syria on Israel’s border.
The IRGC (not to mention Rafsanjani and all of Iran’s leadership) has a motive. Obama is willing to provide them means. Iran, after this deal, will only have to wait for the opportunity.
So no Obama doesn’t have Israel’s back, unless he means that he’s drawing a bulls-eye on it.
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