mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Iranian Dawn
The Day the Mullahs Smiled

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.

Features Icon
show comments
  • rheddles

    Hubris alert. You’re never as good as you look when you’re winning and you’re never as bad as you look when you’re losing.

    • theresanursemom

      We’re gleefully setting the table for world war 3 so the Obama administration can puff out their chests and brag that they struck a deal with Iran. Hubris indeed! Obama will one day belong on the anti-Mount Rushmore along with Carter, Nixon, and James Buchanon.

    • Fat_Man

      The Obama administration is not as bad as the look, they are in fact, much worse.

  • adk

    Obama, of course, “loves America” and is possibly “the smartest president ever”. But just suppose he was an Iranian sleeper agent who made his way to the US Presidency. Further suppose his assignment was to help Iran in any way possible while making sure he serves out two full terms.

    Question: what else would he be doing that he hasn’t done yet?

    • FriendlyGoat

      If we’re going to ask hypothetical questions, we should also ask what six years of McCain/Palin foreign policy would have wrought at this point in time. We know Republicans believe everyone in the world is scared of their rhetoric, but the crazy side of Islam has already proven that it isn’t (because of the single-minded craziness of it).

    • Dan Greene

      Could you have possibly written anything less relevant to this article?

      >>”what else would he be doing that he hasn’t done yet?”

      Um, well, he might not have imposed devastating US sanctions on Iran. He could have decided not to direct his administration to coordinate with the EU and others to stop buying Iranian oil and gas and to expel Iran from the global payments system. He could have avoided deterring India from leaving the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India Pipeline project.) Does any of that really sound like “Iranian sleeper agent” behavior?

  • Dan Greene

    As propaganda, this article is perhaps deserving of modest praise. As analysis, it’s merely comical.

    The whole bit about Jordan is ridiculous. First of all, does it really need to be pointed out that unlike Iraq and Lebanon which have a Shiite majority and plurality respectively, Jordan has a negligible population of Shia. So what is the basis for the supposed inroads that Iran is making there? Neither Ha’aretz nor TAI deigns to say. (It’s perhaps true that in the much longer term, Iran could develop more influence in Sunni countries like Jordan, if it plays (not overplays) its cards well, but that is clearly not the claim this piece is making.) In any case, Soleimani didn’t get where he is by shooting off his mouth about “controlling” this country this or that country. So shouldn’t one be a bit skeptical?

    But the bigger evidentiary issue with this claim of Iranian designs on Jordan is this: Where can one find this alleged interview with Soleimani? It is attributed by Ha’aretz to an organization called the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) with no date for the alleged interview or link to ISNA provided.

    Here’s a link to the ISNA page:

    A search of the ISNA website using terms such as “Jordan” and “Soleimani” turns up nothing that I can find. Does TAI ever do due diligence on any of the nonsense stories it cranks out by the dozens in the Tass or Pravda style? Evidently not. The Wikipedia page for ISNA extensively cites an 2011 Oxford University PhD thesis, which says among other criticisms, “ISNA perhaps cannot be characterized as a member of the media with the highest journalistic values and professional standards.” (Then again, we could say that about TAI, couldn’t we?)

    I don’t read Farsi and couldn’t search the Farsi-language ISNA page, but I saw complaints in other strings by those who claimed to have searched in Farsi and similarly found nothing.

    The Iranian Embassy in Amman has published a categorical denial of the veracity of the supposed interview:

    There is a clue in the ME Monitor piece as to the purpose of this “news story”:

    “Diplomatic relations between Iran and Jordan have recently thawed following a freeze of almost six years during which Jordan refused to name an ambassador in Tehran. In September last year, Jordan appointed former information minister, Abdullah Abu Rumman, as the Kingdom’s ambassador to Tehran. Earlier this month, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Judeh visited Iran and met with Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rohani.”

    So, we might hypothesize that someone wants to derail moderately warming Iran-Jordan ties by surreptitiously placing disinformation on the internet and waiting for shills like TAI to republish it. Gee, I wonder who that “someone” might be?

    For good measure, this silly piece also throws in an unsupported insinuation of Iranian support to the Houthis in Yemen. On a scale of 0 to 10, I give it a 6 as a propaganda piece and a 0 as an analytical piece.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service