The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 14th, 2010.

  • The Wall Street Journal: Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, opines that the European Union should do more to sanction Iran’s worst human-rights abusers. Such sanctions, he argues, will help lead to “regime change.” “If the opposition were to topple the revolutionary Islamist leaders, Iran’s nuclear project would be instantly less threatening.” Those governments that still have embassies in Tehran, says the op-ed, should downgrade diplomatic relations with Iran by withdrawing ambassadors “if their demands are not met” and visiting Iranian officials should “no longer deserve the red-carpet treatment” when they visit the West. Ottolenghi concludes that a strengthened public diplomacy campaign to speak directly to the people of Iran is necessary to explain the West’s “…policies and condemn the regime’s atrocities.”
  • The Atlantic: Century Foundation fellow Michael Hanna writes that, despite the howling of some on the left and right, anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s support for a new Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki does not mean that Iranian influence in Iraq has reached a high point. “Not only does this misunderstand the fundamental nature of Iran-Iraq relations, it repeats a mistake we have made repeatedly since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein,” he writes. Hanna demonstrates how even in the most recent election, which gave rise to the current political impasse, Iran has been unable to exert its will on Iraqi politics. The roots of exaggeration of Iran’s influence stem from partisan U.S. domestic politics, he says: “For years, both parties have exaggerated Iran’s role to score political points.”
  • Fox News: Writing on the Fox News website, Judith Miller does an analysis about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s trip to Lebanon. She writes that the trip is “shaping up as a potential powder keg and a huge political embarrassment for Lebanon whose reverberations are being felt in many capitals, not just in the Middle East.” She cites a number of right-leaning sources such as MEMRI, an expert from the AIPAC-formed Washington Institute, and neoconservative journalist Lee Smith. Though Miller acknowledges that Hezbollah officials have not yet been indicted for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (charges are reportedly in the works), she states that Ahmadinejad and Iran, as Hezbollah’s patron, are “indirectly responsible for having killed” him.
  • Haaretz: Jack Khoury writes that renewed opposition to U.S. military aid to Lebanon appears to be gaining momentum in Congress in the midst of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s high-profile visit to Lebanon. In August, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Howard Berman (D-CA) held up $100 million in military aid to Lebanon after a deadly border clash between Lebanon and Israel. The two Democrats are now opposing the transfer of military aid to Lebanon, scheduled for next month, in response to Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon.

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.