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Former Obama Admin Official: Iran Is Winning in Syria


“Syria’s uprising offered the possibility of a strategic defeat of Iran,” writes Vali Nasr in Bloomberg. But instead, the opposite is happening: “events in Syria are spinning in Iran’s favor. Assad’s regime is winning ground, the war has made Iran more comfortable in its nuclear pursuits, and Iran’s gains have embarrassed U.S. allies that support the Syrian uprising. What’s more, Iran has strengthened its relationship with Russia, which may prove to be the most important strategic consequence of the Syrian conflict, should the U.S. continue to sit it out.”

Vali Nasr is no ordinary armchair pundit. He was a senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2009 to 2011, and he’s a member of the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. All the more reason then to pay attention when he talks about Middle East policy, and especially when he criticizes his former bosses: “The administration [has sent] a strong signal that it also would not go to war against Iran,” he writes. “The U.S. may be content to leave the Middle East and its troubles behind, but that feeling will be short-lived if the legacy of its Syria policy is a region dominated by an aggressive Russian-Iranian axis.”

President Obama’s decision not to intervene in Syria a year or two ago has left him with few and very difficult options. It has convinced the mullahs in Tehran to stand strong in the face of American rhetoric. All options might be on the table, as the President has said, but the mullahs are drawing the conclusion that he would prefer it if those options would remain right there, on the table, unused.

[Obama photo courtesy Getty Images. Assad photo courtesy Wikimedia.]

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  • oogabooga

    Vali Nasr has usually been an advocate for a softer line on Iran. Has he changed his mind?

    • Pete

      Oogabooga is right.

      Vali Nasr, an Iranian now comfortably ensconced in the good old U.S. of A, is a double talking appeaser for Iran.

      See “Vali of Doom” in Commentary magazine, June 2013.

      It seems that Nasr’s past predictions on the goings-on in the Middle East have turned out the be so wrong that only a tenure professor could get away with making them without having to melt away in shame.

      Nasr’s main thesis is that Iran — his motherland and seemingly the country where his heart lies — “is still the most dynamic force in the Middle East and that, therefore, the United States must accommodate its hegemonic designs on that region. ”


      Come on, Mead. you make take this Iranian seriously but hopefully nobody in power does.

  • wigwag

    Read Nasr’s new book. It’s a 300 page indictment of Obama and the idiots on his White House staff who botched one foreign policy issue after another. It’s hard to imagine a more scathing account of Obama Administration blunders.

  • bpuharic

    Just think, instead of an Iranian Islamist victory in Syria, if we’d intervened we could have engineered an Al Qaida victory in Syria.

    I can see why so many are disappointed in Obama. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to blame Obama for an Al Qaida win?

  • vamum

    My humble assessment of the US position on Syria is not that the administration is refusing to intervene, but rather is much more in accordance with WRM’s in depth essay ‘Public Peace, Secret War.’

    Consider this latest item:

    Not widely known, like a lot of the actions of this administration.

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