The Daily Talking Points

News and views on U.S.-Iran relations for January 20:

  • Commentary: The Foundation for Defense of Democracies‘ Benjamin Weinthal blogs on Commentary’s Contentions blog that Switzerland has finally “relented and announced that it will fall into line with EU sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector,” but only after “touting its ‘active neutrality’ position, whatever that means,” over the past year. Weinthal characterizes the Swiss Foreign Ministry as going “to great lengths to maximize their gas and other economic deals with the mullah regime.” He emphasizes, “The gas revenues from the [Swiss deal] with [National Iranian Gas Export Company], whose parent company, National Iranian Gas Company, was placed on Britain’s Proliferation Concerns List in February 2009, would end up funding Iran’s nuclear-weapons program as well as its wholly owned subsidiaries, Hamas and Hezbollah.”
  • Council on Foreign Relations: George W. Bush administration Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams blogs his evaluations of the Obama administration’s Middle East Policy thus far. On Iran, he writes, “Diplomatic efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program continue, but any deal is more likely to concede to the Iranian regime some limited right to reprocess and enrich uranium than to stop the Iranian bomb,” and “Sanctions and sabotage have slowed the Iranians down and credit is due to some combination of the EU, the United States, and Israel, but the Iranian centrifuges continue to spin.” He claims that the administration has insufficiently engaged with individuals in authoritarian countries, claiming, “We seek ‘engagement’ with the Asad regime in Syria and the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and with the ayatollahs in Iran, not with the people who live under their thumbs.”
  • The Jewish Telegraph Agency: Ron Kampeas, JTA’s Washington bureau chief, speaks to a number of close followers of U.S. Middle East policy in Washington. On the hawkish side, he speaks with Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who tells him, “Iran is still enriching uranium. It is absolutely critical we bear down with a comprehensive strategy of which sanctions is a critical part.” The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Mark Dubowitz takes an even more hawkish tone, saying, “If you’re going to target a hard-line regime, you’ve got to have a military option on the table.”

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.