|Retired US Brigadier General Exposes Obama’s Flawed Iran Policy|
The White House itself has confirmed that it realizes its Middle East policy has been ineffective and counter-productive.
Not too long ago, US President Obama sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader, asking for assistance in the struggle against IS and mentioned the possibility of diplomatic relations existing again between the two countries. Now, as the US has declared their intention to overthrow Iran’s ally Assad in Syria, the chances of such an alliance being formed are remote. Nevertheless, in an interview with JerusalemOnline, retired US Brigadier General Ernie Audino expressed concern that the US is no longer dealing well with the Iranian nuclear issue from a position of strength.
“Ironically it wasn’t too long ago when we were in position to engage Iran from a base of strength,” Brigadier General Audino emphasized. “That was shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein when Iran found itself essentially surrounded by significant concentrations of US troops. The simultaneous US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq was of clear, geostrategic concern to Iran and when combined with the effects of international sanctions, Iran was clearly positioned to feel serious external pressure. At the same time Iran was experiencing serious internal pressure as its large demographic bubble of pro-reformist youth was expressing its frustration through a series of violent student demonstrations and civil disturbances. This was the time when Iran needed to deal, and what Iran wanted most at the time was the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. This was the time for the US to engage.”
“But we didn’t,” he noted. “Instead, we simply gave Iran what it wanted most by withdrawing our armed forces from Iraq and slashing their presence in Afghanistan, soon to go to zero. As a bonus, we vigorously promoted the Shia-dominated Maliki government until that became untenable in the face of ISIS, and at that point we kindly turned our support to the successor Abadi regime, in the process assuring continued Shia dominance in Baghdad. Iran could hardly ask for a better turn of events.”
“So, why on Earth would Iran today feel compelled to negotiate with us in good faith to limit its uranium enrichment activities as part of a so-called nuclear deal,” Brigadier General Audino pondered. “It doesn’t, but that hasn’t stopped the current administration in DC from going hat-in-hand to ask Iran for the favor of a nuclear deal, and by the way, a fundamentally un-policeable nuclear deal at that. Such behavior under these conditions conveys weakness and is virtually certain to gain us nothing of strategic significance.”
Brigadier General Audino noted that in the hopes of reaching a deal with Iran, the US effectively abandoned the Kurds: “It turns out we weren't simply dithering in response to legitimate Kurdish needs for American military support (particularly for the important Kurdish town of Jalawla along the Iranian border), which is bad enough. We were consciously ignoring these Kurdish needs in order to reduce a potential source of friction to a nuclear deal. Worse still, while we failed to respond to those Kurdish needs, Iran did not. Iran was only too happy to step forward and fill the military gap Mr. Obama was unwilling to fill, in the process expanding Iranian influence amongst key portions of the Kurdish population. As Iran already had near total influence in the southern 60% of Iraq (corresponding to the Shia demographic), our effectively ceding important portions of the Kurdish north to Iranian influence, too, makes no strategic sense. This odd behavior can only be explained if Mr. Obama was pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran regardless of cost. I hope I am wrong.”
Brigadier General Audino assessed that Iran is now the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf thanks to failed US policy. He stated that for Iran, the fall of Sadamn Hussein was a “dream come true for the Iranians, as it removed their age-old Sunni-Arab counterbalance in Iraq.” The Brigadier General noted that huge stretches of land all the way to the Mediterranean are now ripe for Shia domination and that Sunni Arab fears of increased Iranian influence in the area is a “key motivation to much of the Sunni Arab support for IS.”
Despite the recent Republican victory in both houses of the US Congress, Brigadier General Audino does not believe that this will result in a drastic US policy shift regarding US policy on rapprochement towards Iran: “I believe they can constrain it but not block it. There is a not insignificant amount of momentum behind the efforts at a US-Iranian rapprochement, and other people will continue articulating fair arguments in its favor. Having said that, it is clear the international audience has grown to regard as weak the foreign policy of this administration. Now, with Republican control of both chambers of Congress for his final two years in office, Mr. Obama’s freedom of maneuver is greatly restrained, but not eliminated.” Nevertheless, while the US Congress may not be able to completely change Obama’s foreign policy, with the US declaring their intention to overthrow the Assad regime, it will be interesting to observe if Obama’s Iranian rapprochement policy will die off on its own.