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U.S. Policy, Viewed from the Middle East, by Elliott Abrams

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U.S. Policy, Viewed from the Middle East – Elliott Abrams (Council on Foreign Relations)

(dailyalert.org, Nov. 3, 2014)

During some recent travel to the Middle East, I’ve heard the same views from Arab and Israeli leaders: the Obama administration has drawn Israel and the Arabs closer together. The officials with whom I spoke all perceive the U.S. government as not only conceding Iranian hegemony in the region, but even promoting it as a positive good.

Washington is moving to containment of Iran, while Obama administration officials tell all who will listen that they are not doing that.

For the Arabs, what the King of Jordan once called a “Shia crescent” is forming before their eyes: Iranian hegemony from Yemen through Iran to Iraq and Syria and Lebanon. If a nuclear deal means that sanctions on Iran begin to crumble, Iran will have more resources with which to project force through war and subversion.

The damage done by administration officials who savaged Prime Minister Netanyahu is deep, including among Arab leaders. That’s not because they like Netanyahu, but because it suggests that administration officials are undisciplined and untrustworthy.

After all, those remarks were made with the intention that they be published; they were not off the record. The speakers obviously thought that trashing allied leaders in the press is fine. The officials who made those remarks did serious damage to U.S. credibility, and not just in Israel.

The writer is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR.

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