The Abraham Accords, being signed today at the White House, are widely celebrated in the Arabian peninsula and in Israel, but they’re really bad news for Tehran.
Vice President Biden, in a dispatch for CNN, argued last week that there’s a “smarter way” than President Trump’s to deal with the Islamic Republic. The presidential hopeful argued for a return to what was known during his time at the Naval Observatory as “rebalancing” of America’ foreign policy.
Instead, “at the United Nations, Trump could not rally a single one of America's closest allies to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran,” Mr. Biden lamented. Then, he added, the President “tried to unilaterally reimpose UN sanctions on Iran, only to have virtually all the UN security council members unite to reject his gambit.”
Well, as it turns out, Iran resides in the Middle East, not at Turtle Bay. True, once Mr. Obama realized he could not sway enough Senate members to turn the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action into a treaty, he turned instead to the United Nations. That, not in Congress, is where the nuclear deal became — well, sort of — a legal writ.
Whether Mr. Trump’s “snapback” move at the UN to reimpose full sanctions on Iran ultimately ends up as a dud or turns into a potent weapon in America’s Mideast diplomatic arsenal remains to be seen. For now, many at Turtle Bay are anticipating Mr. Biden’s return to the White House — and with it all the carrots offered to Iran before Mr. Trump tried the stick.
In his piece for CNN, Mr. Biden sketched out a return to the JCPOA — as the articles of appeasement are known — and other components of the previous administration’s Iran policIes. Those were based on the concept that rather than siding with America’s traditional allies — Israel and the Saudi-led Gulf states — we should make inroads to their main regional foe, the Islamic Republic. That, in theory, would make the region more balanced and therefore more peaceful.
The Abraham Accords — agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, possibly joined by others in the region, are “a strategic nightmare” for the Islamic Republic — argue Maysam Behravesh and Hamidreza Azizi in a piece published today by Foreign Policy magazine.
“Arab-Israeli schism over Palestine has supplied the Iranian revolutionary establishment with political ammunition in its ideological campaign against the ‘cancerous tumor’ of Israel as well as the ‘global arrogance’ of its allied ‘Great Satan,’” the two academics write.
“Tehran,” they add, “has long since relied on Arab-Israeli enmity as an organic security buffer not only to keep archfoe Israel from entrenching itself in Iran’s surroundings, geographically speaking, but also to advance its own ‘strategic depth.’”
Until now, Israel relied on one Iranian neighbor, Azerbaijan in the north, as a place to run to after conducting heroic intelligence feats like the theft, in the heart of Tehran, of documents showing Iran’s transgression of the JCPOA and its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty. Now, in the UAE and Bahrain, it has allies to the west and south of Iran’s borders.
Today’s White House ceremony represents a crack in century-long Arab enmity to a Jewish, democratic and liberal state at the heart of the majority Arab, mostly Islamic Mideast. That’s positive for many reasons but, as one of its most important components, it’s a new weapon in weakening the Mideast’s most malign power and setting back its aspirations to dominate the region.
Mr. Biden says he has “no illusions about the challenges the regime in Iran poses to America’s security interests.” His op-ed is worrisome because seems to tilt to the left flank of his party, rather than his record in the Senate, and signals that on Iran he could return America to a course of appeasement.