US-aligned regimes in Middle East cutting ties to Iran

posted at 12:01 pm on January 5, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Most of the reporting on the diplomatic dominos falling in the Middle East focuses on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to isolate Iran, which appear to be succeeding. As the Washington Post notes in two different articles this morning, Riyadh’s foreign-relations offensive has met with considerable success:

The Middle East slid dangerously closer to regional conflict Monday after Saudi Arabia rallied its Sunni allies to sever diplomatic ties with Iran, prompting alarmed appeals for restraint from powers across the globe.

Bahrain and Sudan joined Saudi Arabia in cutting off relations with Iran, and the United Arab Emirates, a key Iranian trading partner, recalled its ambassador from Tehran, as the fallout from the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday heightened sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

Shortly afterward, Kuwait announced that it would also cut ties with Iran:

Kuwait became the latest in a growing list of Saudi Arabian allies to cut or downgrade ties with Iran, saying Tuesday that it had recalled its ambassador to Tehran in solidarity with the kingdom.

The widening rift between Western-backed Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies with the Shiite government in Tehran has pushed the region dangerously closer to conflict, prompting alarmed appeals for restraint from powers across the globe.

Bahrain and Sudan joined Saudi Arabia in severing diplomatic relations with Iran on Monday, and the United Arab Emirates, a key Iranian trading partner, recalled its ambassador, as the fallout from the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia on Saturday sharpened sectarian tensions across the Middle East.

Mostly missing in analyses of these developments is the fact that most of these nations — the Sudan being a notable exception — aren’t just allies of Saudi Arabia. They also formed the bulwark of American policy in the Middle East for the last several decades, and still do. The US liberated Kuwait from the pan-Arabist army of Saddam Hussein in large part because of the threat he posed to Saudi Arabia and the other emirates in the neighborhood. This bloc continues to be part of American strategic calculations, especially when it comes to the fight against ISIS; in fact, it’s no exaggeration to say that Barack Obama’s plan is to shove most of that fight onto these allies with no backup plan if they fail to perform.

What does it portend, then, that these key allies in a strategically critical region have rejected Obama’s attempts to engage Iran? There is no other way to read this in a geopolitical sense. The WaPo’s Liz Sly hints at it when describing the White House response to the crisis, which consists mostly of handwringing on the sidelines:

The Obama administration, caught in the middle by its quest for a closer relationship with Iran and its long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia, said it hoped Tehran and Riyadh would dial back the hostile rhetoric that has fueled the worst crisis between the regional rivals in decades.

“We’re urging all sides to show some restraint and to not further inflame tensions that are on quite vivid display in the region,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters in Washington.

Russia, on the other hand, is getting ready to expand its role as superpower arbiter in the region:

Russia is ready to serve as an intermediary to resolve the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran that saw the kingdom break off diplomatic relations with Tehran, a Russian foreign ministry source told AFP on Monday.

“Russia is ready to serve as an intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran,” the source said, without providing any specifics about Moscow’s potential role in resolving the crisis.

Another unnamed Russian diplomatic source quoted by TASS news agency said Moscow was ready to host the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers — Adel al-Jubeir and Mohammad Javad Zarif — for talks.

“If our partners Saudi Arabia and Iran show they are ready and willing (to meet), our initiative will remain on the table,” the source said.

Why can’t the Obama administration make this offer? Because they have squandered American standing with the Sunni regimes while gaining literally nothing from Tehran. No one respects Obama in the region any longer; Tehran played him for a fool to get their hands on more than $100 billion in assets to use against the Sunni regimes in terror proxy fights, and the Saudis and others think Obama sold them out to get a bad deal with Iran. Russia aligns with Iran all the way down the line, and their attention now is to keep Iranian satellite Bashar al-Assad propped up in Syria, but the Saudis have to take into consideration Putin’s willingness to project Russian power — especially with the US leaving a vacuum in the region.

Obama and John Kerry keep insisting that they made a good deal with Iran. Now is the test of that claim. If all they can do is cluck their tongues from the sideline, that will tell us all we need to know about the impact on American influence from their bargain with the Iranian mullahs.


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Comments

Waffles, golf, multi-million dollar vacations….

artist on January 5, 2016 at 12:05 PM

It is the Obama effect.

Go in any direction but the direction the fool goes.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 5, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Kuwait, talk about No Man’s Land.

I don’t understand Obama’s love for Iran? But then again, I think Obama would lose in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe with my 6 year old.

Oil Can on January 5, 2016 at 12:06 PM

The deal was with the leaders of a death cult.

Result =’s Death

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 5, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Smart Power!

Rogue on January 5, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Get our guys out of there now.

Send some B1’s to eradicate as many of the devil worshipers as we can before the next 1000 year conflict begins over there between satanic tribes.

Defend Israel. We have no other allies in that part of the world.

Get out NOW.

ReaganCajun on January 5, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Obama…what a genius!!!…

PatriotRider on January 5, 2016 at 12:07 PM

Both hands searching for the rear end.

He comes up with a hand full of crap but no A$$.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 5, 2016 at 12:08 PM

I don’t understand Obama’s love for Iran? But then again, I think Obama would lose in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe with my 6 year old.

Oil Can on January 5, 2016 at 12:06 PM

I Ran was Barrack O’Seagulls biggest hit.

Flange on January 5, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Obama dumps dodo in his own hands.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 5, 2016 at 12:09 PM

Legacy!

NoDonkey on January 5, 2016 at 12:10 PM

“They will be PUNISHED for insulting my Iranian Ally” -Barack HUSSEIN Obama, Father of the Iranian Nuclear Weapon

ConstantineXI on January 5, 2016 at 12:11 PM

This is a result of Smart Power right?

This Obamination has the entire Middle East about to go to war, this will not end well for anyone.

Thanks barky!

D-fusit on January 5, 2016 at 12:12 PM

ShartPower!

HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Saudi Arabia is the biggest force of evil in todays world by far, and that we are allies with them is outrageous. Iran at least is fighting ISIS. It is Saudi Arabia that is constantly aiding and spreading wahhabism, thereby being directly responsible for Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc. 9/11 was funded by the Saudi Arabians as well. Fck their oil, cut ties with them.

Jeffreyvdb on January 5, 2016 at 12:13 PM

We’re on the wrong side of history.

Skywise on January 5, 2016 at 12:15 PM

Let the missiles fly. Hopefully we won’t intervene this time.

cimbri on January 5, 2016 at 12:16 PM

This is a result of Smart Power right?

This Obamination has the entire Middle East about to go to war, this will not end well for anyone.

Thanks barky!

D-fusit on January 5, 2016 at 12:12 PM

Look at the bright side. It will mostly be muslim casualties in that war.

ConstantineXI on January 5, 2016 at 12:17 PM

Because they have squandered American standing with the Sunni regimes while gaining literally nothing from Tehran. No one respects Obama in the region any longer; Tehran played him for a fool to get their hands on more than $100 billion in assets to use against the Sunni regimes in terror proxy fights,

They didn’t play him for a fool, not really. Leftists are obsessed with cuddling up to terror regimes as some sort of twisted “apology” to them for making them hate us. The deal with Iran was essentially a stamp of approval for Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

and the Saudis and others think Obama sold them out to get a bad deal with Iran.

Which he absolutely did.

I don’t understand Obama’s love for Iran? But then again, I think Obama would lose in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe with my 6 year old.

Oil Can on January 5, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Obama, politically, came of age during the late Carter and early Reagan era. He likely views Iran through the prism of third world revolutionary socialism and wanted to “correct” our policy, heedless of any negative consequences (indeed, he probably thinks any negative consequences are deserved). Much of Obama’s presidency has been about undoing the Reagan revolution.

This lowest common denominator anti-Americanism, folks.

Doomberg on January 5, 2016 at 12:21 PM

I don’t understand Obama’s love for Iran?

Oil Can on January 5, 2016 at 12:06 PM

I suspect this decision was aimed at changing the balance of power in the ME in favor of Iran. It’s the kind of knotheaded decision making I associate with Obama’s inner circle of Susan Rice, Samantha Powers, Valerie Jarret, etc.

butch on January 5, 2016 at 12:21 PM

We’re on the wrong side of history.

Skywise on January 5, 2016 at 12:15 PM

The only right side in the Middle East is Israel’s.

The best you can do with the rest is support any strong men over there who can control the devil worshipers. We knew this up until the Bush/Clinton era.

Defend Israel.

Get the F out of there now. Let them eliminate each other for a couple of decades.

ReaganCajun on January 5, 2016 at 12:21 PM

Sounds like a great time to inject 150 Billion into Iran!

WryTrvllr on January 5, 2016 at 12:22 PM

Obama isn’t too soft on Iran: He’s too soft on Saudi Arabia. On Obama’s watch, we’ve sold the Saudis $100 billion worth of weapons, and are backing them in their aggression against Yemen, which has resulted in ISIS and al-Qaeda gaining territory there.

Jon0815 on January 5, 2016 at 12:25 PM

It is the Obama effect.

Go in any direction but the direction the fool goes.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 5, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Sucks to be Iran, now that “Kiss of death” Obama is their friend.

MichaelGabriel on January 5, 2016 at 12:33 PM

No one respects Obama in the region any longer; Tehran played him for a fool to get their hands on more than $100 billion in assets to use against the Sunni regimes in terror proxy fights, and the Saudis and others think Obama sold them out to get a bad deal with Iran.

1. The $100 billion in assets belonged to Iran.

2. In order to maintain support for the international economic sanctions against Iran, the US had to work with the G5 + 1 to negotiate a resolution to their nuclear program.

3. No US president could just tell Iran to pound sand while maintaining international support for the sanctions.

4. Where are the nukes? Ed has said that Iran was racing towards a nuke for at least the last 5 years. So where is this nuclear weapon he keeps mumbling about?

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Obama isn’t too soft on Iran: He’s too soft on Saudi Arabia.

Jon0815 on January 5, 2016 at 12:25 PM

Obama may be too soft on Saudi Arabia, but he’s definitely too soft on Iran as well.

J.S.K. on January 5, 2016 at 12:49 PM

Bitter clingers.

If only Obama could have done a better job messaging his plan to have Iran become the regional power

BobMbx on January 5, 2016 at 12:52 PM

4. Where are the nukes? Ed has said that Iran was racing towards a nuke for at least the last 5 years. So where is this nuclear weapon he keeps mumbling about?

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 12:48 PM

Give them a few more years. It takes a little time to spend out $150 billion.

Walter L. Newton on January 5, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Give them a few more years. It takes a little time to spend out $150 billion.
Walter L. Newton on January 5, 2016 at 12:52 PM

Why do they need a few more years? Prior to the deal US intelligence estimated that the breakout time for Iran to build a weapon (based on their technical capabilities) is 2 months. It’s been more than 2 months since the deal. Where’s the nuke?

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 12:56 PM

We suspected he was moslem. Now we’ll know which sect he supports.

Deadeye on January 5, 2016 at 1:16 PM

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Any thoughts on why Iran is testing ballistic missiles?

Dolce Far Niente on January 5, 2016 at 1:18 PM

Reached for comment, President Jarrett said through Assistant Deputy Spokesman Barack Obama:

“Fundamental transformation b****es, fun-da-men-tal trans-for-ma-tion. What, you though we were f***ing with you? We are not f***ing with you. #YOLO”

Sacramento on January 5, 2016 at 1:21 PM

thoughts on why Iran is testing ballistic missiles?
Dolce Far Niente on January 5, 2016 at 1:18 PM

The last time I checked, Iran is permitted to have a national defense.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 1:28 PM

The last time I checked, Iran is permitted to have a national defense.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 1:28 PM

Why do you love and defend the #1 sponsor of terrorism in the world?

HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 1:41 PM

alwaysfiredup on January 5, 2016 at 1:47 PM

about time we stopped giving a free pass to the Saudis, who are the primary funders of these terror groups.

its really too bad we screwed things up so bad with Iran 50yrs ago. Persians are far more natural allies for us than arabs.

everdiso on January 5, 2016 at 1:58 PM

I have no doubt that part of O-idiots love for Iran, in addition to reasons I have read above, it part-parcel for

CORPORATE CRONYISM – CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Let’s sell them some shhheettt!

MistyLane on January 5, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Why do you love and defend the #1 sponsor of terrorism in the world?
HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 1:41 PM

I just don’t want to impoverish or kill the Iranian people like many on the right wish to. Not do I wish to start a war that will result in numerous US injuries and deaths. Nor do I wish to see another Middle Eastern country get destabalized and subsequently become a haven for terror organizations like ISIS.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 2:13 PM

I just don’t want to impoverish or kill the Iranian people like many on the right wish to. Not do I wish to start a war that will result in numerous US injuries and deaths. Nor do I wish to see another Middle Eastern country get destabalized and subsequently become a haven for terror organizations like ISIS.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 2:13 PM

I think most on the right don’t have issues with the Iranian people. It’s their leaders that are the problem. And it’s them that will destabilize the middle east and continue to sponsor terrorist organizations.

HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

I think most on the right don’t have issues with the Iranian people. It’s their leaders that are the problem. And it’s them that will destabilize the middle east and continue to sponsor terrorist organizations.
HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 2:38 PM

You mean similar to the way people on the right had no issue with the Iraqi people, just their leadership. But this didn’t stop people on the right from impoverishing them with 10+ years of sanctions and destroying their country. I guess the right has the same plan in store for Iran.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 2:47 PM

You mean similar to the way people on the right had no issue with the Iraqi people, just their leadership. But this didn’t stop people on the right from impoverishing them with 10+ years of sanctions and destroying their country. I guess the right has the same plan in store for Iran.

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 2:47 PM

Good to know you’re on the side of tyrants. I have a good idea where that’s coming from.

Maybe the leadership in Iran should stop being worldwide sponsors on terrorism. Maybe the people of Iran should demand that of their leaders.

HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 3:08 PM

OK – I’m going to see the doctor – I think I agree with everdiso’s post.

Bringing back Khomeni and jettisoning the Shah was a huge mistake made by Carter. Pictures of Iran before then show a modern state evolving. Then the middle ages re-appeared.

Our support for Saudi Arabia I think is a little more nuanced than what antifederalist remembers. That whole cold war and stuff. Yes Saudi has some warts as well. Iran has the glory of holding our hostages for over a year until Reagan made them realize their country would be turned to glass rather quickly – or at least they were afraid he would.

Zomcon JEM on January 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM

everdiso on January 5, 2016 at 1:58 PM

Excellent point, but that ship sailed when we threw the Shah to the wolves.

vnvet on January 5, 2016 at 4:09 PM

Bringing back Khomeni and jettisoning the Shah was a huge mistake made by Carter. Pictures of Iran before then show a modern state evolving. Then the middle ages re-appeared.

Zomcon JEM on January 5, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Toppling a secular democracy in 1953 was a huge mistake made by Eisenhower. Iran in the days before the islamic revolution was rock bottom on human rights and the White Revolution had not exactly brought a stable economy. The anti-American sentiment and the Khomeinist regime that benefited from it are both blowback from the 1953 intervention.

Jeffreyvdb on January 5, 2016 at 4:44 PM

Why do they need a few more years? Prior to the deal US intelligence estimated that the breakout time for Iran to build a weapon (based on their technical capabilities) is 2 months. It’s been more than 2 months since the deal. Where’s the nuke?

antifederalist on January 5, 2016 at 12:56 PM

Probably hiding somewhere next to the Iraqi WMD’s US Intelligence claimed.

proverbs427 on January 5, 2016 at 5:39 PM

Why do you love and defend the #1 sponsor of terrorism in the world?

HumpBot Salvation on January 5, 2016 at 1:41 PM

We’re talking about Iran, not Saudi Arabia. Try and keep up.

proverbs427 on January 5, 2016 at 5:43 PM

I don’t understand Obama’s love for Iran? But then again, I think Obama would lose in a game of Tic-Tac-Toe with my 6 year old.

Hey, the guy would concede a game of solitaire to the deck of cards.
But then, a playing card has a stiffer spine. And is less transparent. But perhaps not as slippery.

orangemtl on January 5, 2016 at 7:45 PM