Often, it’s hard to keep track of who’s battling who and what alliances have formed in the Middle East. Sometimes it’s as simple as good vs. evil (e.g., Hamas vs. Israel). And sometimes, the age-old concept that ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ applies. Things in the region are rarely easy and never clean, but that’s part of the reason we distribute these weekly missives: to make sense of a messy Middle East. With that in mind, this week we’re going to touch on Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

Iran’s Oil

The Iranian nuclear agreement has moved from being on life-support to slipping into a coma. But you might be surprised to learn that for Tehran, that’s perfectly ok. Take for example the latest news out of the Biden administration. After having already lifted certain sanctions on the Islamic Republic to build good will with Tehran, Team Biden is now considering allowing Iran to sell more oil on the global market.

Gas prices are high, so the motivations here from the Biden administration are clear. But we would point out that the Biden administration’s policies are giving Iran exactly what the Mullahs want. Sanctions are decreasing and the Iranians are continuing their nuclear weapons development, missile and UAV research, and support for terrorism, unabated. Even a casual observer of the Biden administration’s Iran failures should recognize that it’s time to change course.

Turkey’s Threats

Last week we referenced an op-ed authored by a CUFI Action Fund staffer discussing Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan’s charm offensive. We warned against trusting Ankara’s silver-tongued tyrant. As such, it should come as no surprise that news out of Turkey this week revolves around Erdogan’s announcement that he plans to invade Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria to create a “buffer zone” around his country’s borders.

Apparently Erodgan is paying attention to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and figures he’ll get a quick landgrab in, while killing American-allied Kurds. We won’t bother saying “I told you so,” since such a statement is as true as it is obnoxious, but we would point out (again) that the Biden administration should probably reconsider plans to sell additional hi-tech American weapons to a nation that continues to host Hamas terrorists and has now -effectively - announced plans to kill some of America’s most stalwart allies in the Middle East.

Iraq’s Hate

Whether or not one agreed with the U.S. invasion of Iraq, there’s no denying the fact that Iraq today is far freer than it was under the murderous regime of Saddam Hussein. As such, we were saddened to hear that last week the Iraqi parliament passed a law that makes it illegal for Iraqis to engage with Israel. Potential penalties for violating the law include life in prison and the death penalty.

We were a bit surprised by this move as Iraq’s parliament hasn’t even been able to form a government or elect its president due to divisions in the body. Nonetheless, 275 elected representatives voted in favor of the antisemitic law, and its passage was welcomed by the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. You may remember him as a leader of a powerful Iran-allied militia (read terrorist organization) that attacked and killed numerous Americans in the aftermath of the overthrow of Hussein. 

Across the region, American and Israeli foes are flexing their muscles. They seek a world with no Israel and with an America that is at a minimum significantly weakened. Between free and democratic nations, alliances are far less about our enemy’s enemy being our ally and more about the fact that all of our enemies hate us because of the values we hold dear.

America and Israel share the same enemies because we share the same values. The U.S.-Israel alliance isn’t a relationship of convenience, it’s an alliance of good facing down evil that has the support and backing of the vast majority of Americans. Our leaders would do well to keep that in mind the next time they choose to break bread with the tyrants of the Middle East.

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