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After the Nuclear Deal
The Makings of a Trump Administration Iran Policy

One day after the State Department confirmed to Congress that Iran is abiding by the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal), Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made forceful remarks about Iran’s wider regional meddling. The BBC:

The US secretary of state has accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” aimed at destabilising the Middle East and undermining America’s interests.

“An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it,” Rex Tillerson said.

The US has ordered a review of the Iran nuclear deal, although it admits Iran is complying with its commitments.

Tillerson’s statement went on to describe some of those provocations, including support for terrorism, interference in Iraq, backing the Assad regime in Syria, support for the Houthis in Yemen, harassment of U.S. navy ships in the Persian Gulf, and cyber-attacks against U.S. interests and allies.

The “comprehensive review of…Iran policy” that Tillerson is describing points towards a U.S. strategy that recognizes the non-nuclear issues at stake. The nuclear deal granted Iran a number of short term strategic advantages in exchange for compliance on the nuclear issue, and the Obama administration was willing to accept the separation of the nuclear issue from Iran’s other activities in order to get the deal signed and subsequently was unwilling to confront Iran in its pursuit of regional hegemony for fear of undermining the deal. From what we’ve seen of how this Administration is approaching the world, the “comprehensive review” likely will take steps to change that calculus.

And more than likely, the Trump Administration’s response to Iranian meddling will lean towards kinetic action, as opposed to hoping to somehow re-impose sanctions while the world is busy opening its doors to Iran’s beleaguered economy. We’ve already seen Trump launch the first U.S. strikes against the Russo-Iranian proxy the Assad regime. While he’s since distanced himself from the suggestion, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster reportedly favors a much larger U.S. troop presence in Syria. Secretary Mattis met with the Saudis this week ahead of a planned Saudi/UAE assault on the Houthi-controlled Red Sea port of Hodeidah. While Mattis publicly stated that the U.S. seeks a diplomatic solution in Yemen, privately he has advocated for greater U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition and has long-warned of the threat that Iran’s non-nuclear activities pose to U.S. interests. Mattis’ agenda in Israel, where he’ll land Friday morning, is reported to be “Iran, Iran, Iran.”

This will all come as welcome news for American allies across the region who finally have an administration that sees the Iranian threat the way they do—and is willing to do something about it.

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  • Anthony

    “America’s re-engagement with the world should be welcomed, but not if the Trump administration continues to view conflicts solely through a military lens. Yes, fighting is sometimes necessary; but diplomacy always is. Nowhere is this more obvious than in places like Yemen. The complete collapse of yet another country is the last thing the world – including Trump – needs.”

    • ——————————

      Yes, one must tread lightly, but carry a big stick….

      • Anthony

        Cliche’s and simplicity have their value for some.

        • ——————————

          Well, being that cliches are based on truths, and Occam trumps Rube…those “some” are right and understand much more, and expend a lot less effort doing so….

          • Anthony

            Occam/Rube convenient tools for the grappling. Life cannot be relived and “some” (the formless some) have difficulty with life’s transitions – you can’t go back nor can you redo major life decisions.

          • ——————————

            Not a meritorious reply…just more gobbledygook….

          • Anthony

            Merit has nothing to do with inane rootless comments with intent on wasting precious time. Gobbledgook is simplistic description when respondent receives reply not expected (but you’ve only been here a minute, give yourself more time).

          • Fred

            Gobbkedegook is all you’re going to get from Anthony until the cowardly prick blocks you. He is a pseudo-intellectual bullshitter utterly incapable of constructing an argument or responding to one other than with ad hominems expressed in obcurantist Anthony-ese with a completely unearned tone of superiority.

          • ——————————

            That’s exactly how I perceived him during the 2 times I had exchanges with him, and also from seeing some of his exchanges with others. It’s really creepy, and of course it is an obvious sign of weakness and insecurity.

            He was definitely the strange little kid that either got picked on or ignored in school. It really shows.
            And now he is the wallflower on TAI…some people just don’t get it in life…

  • Suzy Dixon

    Both Saudi and Iran are supporters of terrorist groups. Calling out one and not the other cheapens any action taken.

    • Observe&Report

      On a moral level, yes. But the Saudis support Sunni terrorists while Iran supports Shia terrorists, two groups of fanatics who hate each other more than anything else. I can think of worse strategies than backing one side against the other until they’ve exhausted themselves.

  • D4x

    Other sources know the Israelis will also be discussing the stability of Egypt and Jordan, Sinai, Russia, and, what SecTillerson did not state, Hezbollah and the Golan. Based on how Sec Mattis is perceived from his confirmation hearing, he might have to rethink Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and whether peace with the Palestinians is really the source of all other problems.
    Read more:

  • Mark Hamilton

    Iran has been an enemy of this country since 1979 and regularly commits acts of war against us. That is just reality. It’s nice to see the Trump Administration take some steps in the right direction after watching 8 nauseating years of Obama trying to normalize this disgusting adversary. I’ve often wondered what it must be like for a soldier who lost a leg or a friend to an IED supplied by Iran to watch his Commander-in-Chief strike a humiliating “deal”, complete with cash payments for US sailors who were abused in violation of the Geneva Conventions before the entire world.

    But it wasn’t just Obama. The GOP helped him. See Corker, Bob et al. It’s hard not to come to the conclusion that our elected leadership cares more about Boeing and GE’s ability to make billions trading with Iran than the thousands of Americans who have been killed and grievously wounded by this heinous regime.

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