Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is Trump All Talk on Iran?

On his first official trip abroad, the president rallied Arabs and Israelis to unite against Iran. But by giving Boeing a pass to sell Tehran planes, he’s sending a very different message.
During his trip to the Middle East last week, President Donald Trump had one consistent theme and he never wavered from it: The region needs to unite to stop Iran. Mutual antipathy for Tehran has driven Arab regimes such as Saudi Arabia to make common cause with Israel. It was also the motivation for the massive $110 billion arms deal Trump struck with the Saudis, who believe that President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran has endangered their security.
But while Trump talks tough about the Iranians, the normally bellicose Islamist regime has been restrained, at least by its standards, in response. Why? The Iranians may be unhappy with Trump’s effort to orchestrate the creation of a Middle East NATO that would oppose their dream of regional hegemony, but they are actually quite pleased with other elements of his administration’s Iran policy. For all of Trump’s bluster, his decision not only to leave the nuclear agreement in place but to erect no obstacles to a major U.S. commercial deal with Iran may have convinced the ayatollahs that the president isn’t quite as hostile as he wants to seem.
One of the least noticed aspects of the nuclear deal was a provision that granted Tehran an exception to U.S. sanctions that remained in place after it was signed. That provision allowed U.S. companies to sell “commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services” to Iran, and Boeing took advantage of it, joining European businesses in a race to secure Iranian business.
It was a clever strategy that enabled Obama to undermine the remaining resistance to the deal. If, as Obama hoped, a major U.S. firm such as Boeing were to conclude a massive deal of its own with Iran, the jobs created by the sale would build a strong new constituency opposed to retightening the screws on Tehran no matter the regime’s subsequent actions.
Read the rest from Jonathan S. Tobin HERE.

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