The Daily Talking Points

News and views relevant to U.S.-Iran relations for November 13-15, 2010.

  • The Hill: Rebecca Heinrichs, an adjunct fellow at the hawkish Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), blogs that the $60 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia should not be allowed to “sail through without serious oversight from Congress.” Heinrichs argues that although arming Saudi Arabia is widely seen as part of a containment and deterrence strategy against Iran, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is governed by a monarchy in accordance with Sharia Law…” and “…like the majority of Muslim countries, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does not recognize the statehood of Israel.” She admits the United States does enjoy access to Saudi oil exports and that the country’s leaders oppose Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program but, “…but if a country’s mores are more like those of our enemies than our allies, we should be careful how we reciprocate those benefits.”
  • The Atlantic: Jonathan Schanzer, vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), blogs that Egypt, through Misr Iran Development Bank (MIDB), an Egyptian-Iranian financial institution, has become a vehicle for Iran to circumvent international sanctions. “It is a testament to how difficult it can be for the U.S. to enforce international sanctions, even among countries that appear to be natural allies in the effort to deter Iran,” writes Schanzer. He allows that, “Egypt, one of America’s closest allies in the Middle East and the recipient of more U.S. foreign aid than any country in the world save Israel, is certainly not planning on becoming a rogue state allied with Iran,” but “…Egypt is clearly hedging between Iran and the U.S.”
  • Der Tagespiegel: The American Jewish Committee’s David Harris has an op-ed in the German daily (translated on AJC’s website) on the possibly forthcoming talks between the West and Iran. Harris cites experts who think Iran can be contained, then demurs: “[Iran] is driven by a theology which believes in hastening the coming of the so-called Hidden Imam. If unleashing war would help, it cannot be ruled out.” Even an Iran that doesn’t use weapons could make the world “a more dangerous place” by sparking an arms race that could lead to proliferation all the way in Greece. Harris then addresses potential dangers to Israel because of Iranian threats and client groups on Israel’s borders. Harris concludes by calling for explicit military threats against Iran: “The best way to avoid [the military option] is by making clear that it is on the table in all dealings with Iran. Only if Iran’s leaders grasp that the world is truly serious about preventing it from acquiring nuclear weapons can we hope for a diplomatic solution.”

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.