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Analysts Warn that Acquiescing to Iran’s Mideast Ambitions is a Strategic Error

Several analysts have recently written that it would be a strategic error for the United States to allow Iran to play a greater role in the region, given its destabilizing nature and hegemonic ambitions.

Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies writes that the administration is “grossly mistaken” if it thinks it can cooperate with Iran to combat Sunni extremism. In 2012, the Treasury Department, charged that Iran has an agreement with al Qaeda whereby the latter can stay in the former’s territory as long as it does not conduct operations there or attempt active recruitment. Last year the Treasury Department documented Iran’s cooperation with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Michael Young, the opinion editor of The Daily Star, suggests a reason that Iran would enter into tactical agreements with Sunni extremists, “ISIS hardly represents a strategic threat to Iran; on the contrary, by drawing Western attention to the terrorist problem, it distracts Western governments from Iran’s larger project in the Middle East.” Iran’s strategy, Young writes, directly undermines the American policy of “building consensus to reinforce governance institutions and prevent the emergence of vacuums in the region.”

Tony Badran of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies underscored the problem of American cooperation with Iran by quoting a U.S. military official indicating the U.S. was being solicitous of Iran’s interests in Syria, saying, “You cross a red line in Syria, you start to infringe upon what Iran sees as its long-term interest and those Shia militias [in Iraq] could turn in the other direction.” This accommodation, Badran argues, in addition to emboldening Iran, creates a wedge between Israel and the U.S. Badran’s view was echoed by Lee Smith, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, who wrote that the American attempt to contain Sunni jihadism in Syria and Iraq by allying with Iran has created a “strategic divergence” between the U.S. and Israel.

Even analysts usually aligned with the Obama administration have also expressed their concern about the President’s desired rapprochement with Iran. Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars wrote in January, “[I]f the administration is too eager for an agreement, it will find itself…with an emboldened Iran…untransformed, unrepentant, and in a stronger … position to challenge U.S. interests in a turbulent Middle East.” David Rothkopf, the CEO and Editor of the FP Group, maintained in a January essay that if things continue on the same path, the administration’s “pivot to Iran is going to seem like a great blunder.” Former Special Advisor to the Obama administration Dennis Ross recommended a new strategy that will “focus on isolating Iran in its neighborhood and undermining its clients” to “raise the price to Tehran of its objectionable policies.”

[Photo: PressTV / YouTube]