The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for October 18:

  • New York Post: Disgraced Iranian journalist Amir Taheri writes that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki “seems set to strike a Faustian bargain to cling to power: He is ready to dine with the devil.” Judging from the headline, “Iraq: Letting Iran Call the Shots,” the “devil” here is clearly Iran.  Taheri, known to have fabricated stories in the past, makes errors in his Post article as well. He writes, “Tehran helped the deal by ordering its oldest Shiite clients, the so-called Supreme Islamic Assembly of Iraq [ISCI] (and its armed wing, the Badr Brigades), to back Maliki.” Historian Juan Cole noted that Badr “peeled away from it’s parent,” and that ISCI stayed out of Maliki’s coalition.
  • The Guardian: Michael Knights, a fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes that “Tehran [has] become the most influential outside power in Iraq.” He says, however, that the issue is not closed: “Iran, like the United States, will have to continue to vie for influence in Iraq.” He assesses Iranian interests in Iraq and concludes, “Tehran seeks to prevent Iraq from recovering as a military threat or as a launchpad for an American attack.” He sees the Islamic Republic accomplishing this through trade, particularly energy, and influencing Iraq’s ” fragmented and unregulated” politics.
  • The Washington Post: A neoconservative editorial writer at the Post make a thinly-veiled call for regime change in Iran, writing that the Islamic Republic has “no interest in a ‘grand bargain’ with the United States or an accommodation with the Security Council… [A]s long as these rulers are in power, Iran will not give up its ambition to exercise hegemony over the Middle East.” Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Southern Lebanon is seen to demonstrate that “Tehran can use its client to trigger a new war in the Middle East at any time; it’s a lesser form of the intimidation that it hopes to exercise around the region with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.” This show of force is viewed as a deterrence against an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran.
  • The Wall Street Journal: Senior Claremont Institute Fellow Mark Halperin writes that Israel’s unique experience as a country “repeatedly subjected to calls for its extinction”  and “the steadily improving professionalism of the Arab air forces, their first rate American and European equipment, their surface-to-air-missile shield, and most importantly their mass,” pose a “mortal threat” to Israel’s existence. Halperin observes that “the military strategy of Israel’s enemies is now to alter the conventional balance while either equipping themselves with nuclear weapons or denying them to Israel, or both.” Saving a discussion of Israel’s own nuclear capabilities until the last sentence, Halperin concludes that the only source of security for a Jewish state under “a continual state of siege is the nuclear arsenal devoted solely to preserving its existence.”

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.