The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 6, 2010.

  • Wall Street Journal:  John Hopkins professor Fouad Ajami defends the whole of the Iraq War and addresses concerns that the country is subject to undue Iranian influence. He acknowledges that many commentators see evidence of Iran’s influence in the election last March — and the ongoing jockeying for power — in the role of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his exile in Iran. Ajami, who holds positions at the neocon Middle East Quarterly journal and the hawkish United Against a Nuclear Iran, credits Iraqis, especially Shiites, with a “healthy fear of Iran and a desire to keep the Persian power at bay.” He thinks al-Sadr’s defection to PM Muri al-Maliki’s re-election camp is because of the cleric’s desire for “access to state treasure and resources” and that Iraq needs “Pax Americana” to “craft a workable order in the Persian Gulf” in order to flourish.
  • Commentary: J.E. Dyer, in the Contentions blog, claims to have found evidence that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wants to lead an invasion of Israel. Or, as Dyer phrased it, “plant the Revolutionary Iranian flag in Jerusalem.” On Ahmadinejad’s visit to Southern Lebanon next week, Ahmadinejad is scheduled to  appear before a model of the holy city’s al-Aqsa mosque flying an Iranian flag. Dyer views the move as “a symbolic announcement that the ‘race to Jerusalem’ is on.” Insisting “[t]his is not meaningless symbolism,” he says the “blatant signal is something Ahmadinejad should be prevented from sending,” and wants the United States to pressure Lebanon to do just that.
  • Foreign Policy: The American Enterprise Institute’s Roger Noriega claims his research reveals Venezuela has been pursuing a nuclear program for the past two years with Iranian assistance. Noriega says, “documents suggest that Venezuela is helping Iran obtain uranium and evade international sanctions, all steps that are apparent violations of the U.N. Security Council resolutions meant to forestall Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program.” Even more conspiratorially, he adds that  “other documents provided by sources within the Venezuelan government reveal a suspicious network of Iranian-run facilities in that South American country that could contravene Security Council sanctions.” Noriega concludes that Venezuela’s nuclear program and participation in sanctions busting trade with Iran should lead the U.S. and the UN to “challenge Venezuela and Iran to come clean and, if necessary, take steps to hold both regimes accountable.”
  • Tablet Magazine: In looking at the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah, visiting Hudson Institute fellow Lee Smith backs up his belief that the formation of Hezbollah had nothing to do with Israel’s 18-year occupation of Southern Lebanon. For him,”Hezbollah is a projection of Iranian military power on the Eastern Mediterranean.”  He adds, “There is nothing Lebanese about Hezbollah except the corporal host; its mind belongs to the Revolutionary Guard.” As proof, Smith points to captured Hezbollah documents show telltale signs of having been translated from Farsi into Arabic. This runs counter to other perspectives, including Ehud Barak’s understanding of Hezbollah: “It was our presence [in southern Lebanon] that created Hizbullah.” Smith’s account of history removes all Israeli responsibility for the growth of Hezbollah and shifts the focus to Iran – a variation on the “reverse linkage” argument.

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.