Ross puts it delicately: “On one side are the Islamists — both Sunni and Shiite. ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood represent the Sunni end of the spectrum, while the Islamic Republic of Iran and its militias, including Hezbollah (in Lebanon and Syria) and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (in Iraq), constitute the other. Many of these Islamists are at war with one other, but they are also engaged in a bitter struggle with non-Islamists to define the fundamental identity of the region and its states. What the Islamists all have in common is that they subordinate national identities to an Islamic identity.” (He might want to include Israel since the Obama administration seems to regard Israel as a burden, not its most important ally in the region.) Translation: Don’t think you can pal around with Tehran and form an alliance against Sunni jihadists.
Ross reiterates who the non-Islamist good guys are (“traditional monarchies, authoritarian governments in Egypt and Algeria, and secular reformers who may be small in number but have not disappeared. They do not include Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria; he is completely dependent on Iran and Hezbollah and cannot make decisions without them”). He then continues: “Today, the non-Islamists want to know that the United States supports them. For America, that means not partnering with Iran against ISIS, though both countries may avoid interfering with each other’s operations against the insurgents in Iraq.” Translation: Again, do not pal around with Iran.
And here’s the tough message, which suggests that Ross is worried about what the Obama/Susan Rice/Valerie Jarrett brain trust is up to inside the hermetically sealed White House:
It means actively competing with Iran in the rest of the region, independently of whether an acceptable nuclear deal can be reached with Tehran. It means recognizing that Egypt is an essential part of the anti-Islamist coalition, and that American military aid should not be withheld because of differences over Egypt’s domestic behavior.
Translation: Don’t think you can buy Iran off with a sweetheart nuclear deal or ignore its aggressive behavior so as to get a nuclear deal to wave in triumph.
Just to be certain, Ross twice more warns the White House not to buddy up to Iran: “The Obama administration worries about the consequences of excluding all Islamists. . . [D]o not reach out to Islamists; their creed is not compatible with pluralism or democracy.”
It is stunning when you think the administration has been so accommodating toward a regime that seeks to wipe Israel off the planet, defies international injunctions against nuclear weapons, is the largest state sponsor of terror, seeks to subvert traditional U.S. allies and brutalizes its people. Yet Obama has refused to pursue regime change; done nothing effective to dislodge Iran’s junior partner Bashar al-Assad; once counted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan among his best international friends; done nothing to retaliate against the attempted assassination of a Saudi official on U.S. soil; been largely mum on Iran’s dreadful human rights record; refused to intercept Iranian arms shipments around the region; and threatened to veto more sanctions while then proceeding to drag out the negotiations. If not an explicit alliance, you can’t help but see Obama as trying to woo Iran and reach some reconciliation.
The administration has said as much. John Kerry in March, 2013 announced, “Despite the difficult history of the last decades between the United States and Iran, there is an opportunity to work diplomatically to reduce tensions and address the mistrust between our two countries, to the mutual benefit of both of our people.” Less than a year ago The Post reported on Obama’s speech to the United Nations: “President Obama said . . . that he will use the remainder of his term to pursue better relations with Iran in the hope of resolving the controversy surrounding its nuclear program, pledging an activist U.S. agenda in the Middle East and beyond despite growing isolationist pressure at home.” Indeed he could not have been more solicitous:
The United States and Iran have been isolated from one another since the Islamic revolution of 1979. This mistrust has deep roots. Iranians have long complained of a history of U.S. interference in their affairs and of America’s role in overthrowing the Iranian government during the Cold War. On the other hand, Americans see an Iranian government that has declared the United States an enemy and directly or through proxies taken American hostages, killed U.S. troops and civilians, and threatened our ally Israel with destruction.I don’t believe this difficult history can be overcome overnight. The suspicions run too deep. But I do believe that if we can resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, that can serve as a major step down a long road toward a different relationship, one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.Since I took office, I’ve made it clear in letters to the supreme leader in Iran and more recently to President Rouhani that America prefers to resolve our concerns over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully — although we are determined to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.We are not seeking regime change, and we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy.
Yikes! Now you see why Ross might be concerned. Perhaps he needs to say it a few more times: Stop trying to ingratiate yourself with Iran, Mr. President.