President Obama has devoted great effort to “engage” iran, but his efforts have engendered nothing but ostentatious contempt from the target of his entreaties. In the latest installment of this embarrassment of the United States, the presidents of Iran and Syria ridiculed U.S. policy in the region and pledged to create a Middle East “without Zionists.” The Washington Post report observes that yesterday’s statement “combin[ed] a slap at recent U.S. overtures and a threat to Israel with an endorsement of one of the region’s defining alliances.”
Yesterday in Damascus Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a joint news conference with Syrian President Basher Assad; Reuters reports that they signed a bilateral deal to remove travel visas. According to the Post, Ahmadinejad spoke of Israel’s eventual “demise and annihilation” and said the countries of the region could create a future “without Zionists and without colonialists.” The Post notes that “[t]he joint appearance and tone of the remarks come as an answer of sorts to the U.S. decision to send an ambassador, Robert Ford, to Damascus after pulling its representative in protest over the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.”
The linked Reuters report has more on Assad’s mockery of Hillary Clinton. It quotes Assad: “We must have understood Clinton wrong because of bad translation or our limited understanding, so we signed the agreement to cancel the visas.” Ceren has more on the really striking mockery of the Obama administration by Assad here.
The remarks at yesterday’s press conference were also an answer of sorts to Obama’s continued displays of weakness, retreat, and obsequiousness. The powers-that-be in Iran continue to demonstrate that the Obama administration’s threats of action are empty rhetoric.
The latest revelation of the Obama administration’s empty rhetoric on Iran came yesterday courtesy of the State Department. The Obama administration now says it does not aim to impose crippling sanctions on Iran, but rather to pressure the Iranian government to change course on its nuclear program while protecting ordinary people.
“It is not our intent to have crippling sanctions that have … a significant impact on the Iranian people,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters. “Our actual intent is … to find ways to pressure the government while protecting the people.” Omri Ceren measures the administration’s retreat on sanctions.
In a message this morning Ceren writes that “[g]oing as far back as last April, the White House had always insisted that Iranian intransigence would be met with ‘crippling’ sanctions. Apparently not so much.” I think it’s safe to say that the mullahs of Iran have been at least as observant as Ceren in taking Obama’s measure.
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