Saturday, October 22, 2011

The U.S. is "hated" in the Middle East

Ah, political rhetoric. You've got to love it (wink, wink).

This time, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is engaging in it, as he suggests in an interview with CNN that the U.S. is hated throughout the Middle East.
Ahmadinejad also took aim at the United States, saying the country is "hated" in the Middle East and should keep out of regional affairs, such as in Syria, where a brutal government crackdown on protesters has drawn international ire.
"We should respect independence and sovereignty of all nations everywhere in the world," he said. "We condemn killings and massacre. ... Justice dictates that nobody should kill the other. Nobody has the right to kill others -- neither the government nor the opponents. ... We are going to make greater efforts to encourage both the government of Syria and the other side and all parties to reach an understanding. There should be no interference from outside."
Syria is widely considered Iran's closest ally in the Middle East. Leaders in both countries have been criticized for brutally repressing democratic reform movements at home while supporting violent Islamic extremism abroad."
In other words, "I've watched various tyrants around me fall, and I don't want to see Syria's tyrant be the next one."

Of course, Mr. Ahmadinejad's "respect" for sovereignty around the world seems a bit dubious in light of his nation's purported involvement in an assassination attempt of the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. The Guardian reports that there appear to be few realistic options that the West can pursue in response.

And those efforts are complicated by Russia and China urging that Iran be given time to respond to efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.

More importantly, as the Wall Street Journal notes, the U.S. decision to pull its troops from Iraq before the end of the calendar year offers Iran a chance to increase its influence in that nation. 
Baghdad's political leadership, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, already has close diplomatic ties with Tehran, and has backed Iran on important regional issues, such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' oil-production quotas and support for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A number of U.S. allies said Washington's pullout from Iraq could be seen by Tehran as a green light to intensify its meddling. A common joke from the early days of the U.S. presence in Iraq was that the U.S. spent billions of dollars to invade Iraq only to hand it over to the Iranians on a golden plate.
That, perhaps, can be considered another example of the Law of Unintended Consequences; however, and more germane to the point, Iran's role in Iraq needed to more fully be considered before any U.S. invasion took place. One cannot blame President Obama for following through on the military mission's goal -- provide as much domestic stability as possible before bringing home the troops.

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