The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for August 31, 2010.

  • The Wall Street Journal: News columnist Gerald Seib has a convoluted piece on Mid East and Central Asian policy where he says that almost all the U.S.’s regional policy is directed at Iran. Seib writes that Obama’s policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel-Palestine all aim to “clear the decks in order to concentrate more intensely on the paramount challenge posed by Iran and its Islamic extremist friends.” Raising the specter of “a hostile state potentially armed with weapons of mass destruction,” Seib nonetheless affirms the neocon bête noire of linkage between the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the rest of the region. He calls the Mid East talks in Washington this week “an attempt to reduce the danger of a traditional flashpoint, the plight of the stateless Palestinians.”
  • National Review Online: Robert Costa briefly sums up House Minority Leader John Boehner’s speech to an American Legion Convention in Milwaukee before reproducing the speech in full. Boehner, who would become Speaker should the GOP take the House in November, asserts that “international isolation” will not stop Iran from pursuing the bomb. “Iran is more than prepared to sacrifice the well-being of its people for the chance to fundamentally change the balance of power in the region,” he says. “It is the true source of instability in the region, and we must not naively assume a nuclear-armed Iran would be containable.” Without directly mentioning an Israeli attack on Iran, Boehner says that the U.S. should support Israel as an “island of freedom” and “stick by [its] friends.”
  • Financial Times (free subscription required): Reporting from Tehran, Monavar Khalaj highlights the still-turbulent domestic politics of Iran. While the current sparring in Iran’s majles — or parliament — is between President Ahmadinejad and fundamentalist hard-liners, the wrangling is in direct defiance of Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and indicates how difficult it is for authorities to keep a lid on politics there. In fact, self-proclaimed Green Movement supporter and arch-neocon Michael Ledeen has a post at NRO pointing to calls for a new round of Green protests (though Ledeen strikes a patronizing tone by declaring the opposition’s poster “elegant”).
  • The Washington Institute for Near East Policy: WINEP fellow Simon Henderson warns that arrests of Shiite opposition activists in Bahrain could threaten to bring greater resentment from the island-kingdom’s Shiite majority. Henderson argues that the large number of potentially disenfranchised Shiites, Tehran’s historical claims to Bahrain (although Tehran renounced its claim to the kingdom during the Shah’s rule), and the importance of the island state to U.S. military staging in the region are all reasons for the U.S. to encourage the Bahraini government to avoid an outbreak of anti-government and anti-U.S. protests.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.