This is what you call playing hard to get: Iran has decided it’s not ready for a formal “framework” deal, preferring an unwritten “understanding” to be followed, at leisure and allegedly, by an accord in June.And why should the mullahs make haste? They’re already getting so much of what they’ve always wanted. As the NYT reported yesterday, Iran’s hardliners aren’t complaining about a nuclear deal because they like the bargain the Administration has basically struck with the regime—Iran attends the talks, while we offer concessions and look the other way as it builds up influence all over the Middle East, from Syria to Iraq to Lebanon to Yemen. As an Iranian political strategist put it: “Deal or no deal, we are at new peaks of our power.”The Iranian regime is feeling so smug, in fact, that it’s now talking openly of its designs on another Middle Eastern country: Jordan. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds force, claimed that Iran has control of the Hashemite Kingdom in an interview over the weekend. From Ha’aretz:
[Soleimani’s] remarks were the first time a senior Iranian official has openly discussed Iranian ambitions in Jordan. […]The Iranian Student News Agency quoted Soleimani as saying that Iran has a presence in Lebanon and Iraq and that both countries are yielding to Iranian interests. He added that Iran has the ability to control Jordan in the same way. Soleimani said the revolutions in the Arab world are slowly taking on a Muslim tone, similar to Iran’s Islamic revolution, and that Tehran should provide aid and guidance to these revolutions.
This Administration’s outreach to the Iranian regime has allowed the mullahs leeway to destabilize Yemen, restock Iraq’s fighting forces with Tehran-backed militias, strengthen the hand of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and prop up Butcher Assad on his steady if shrunken throne. The threat to Jordan is bound to put the Saudi-led Sunni coalition and Israel on high alert—and the Saudis are already warning that a nuclear arms race in the Middle East will follow an Iran deal.As we’ve said before, letting the Iran increase its influence in the Middle East was counterproductive for any nuclear deal—the better strategy would have been to rein it in. Now the regime is gloating, stringing us along, and planning ahead, while our allies are furious and worried. This is what a failure of strategy looks like.