An Update from CUFI Action Fund
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Depending upon one’s priorities, the Iran nuclear agreement was the best of deals or the worst of deals. For Arabs, Israelis and their allies, the Iran nuclear agreement was the codification of a descent into Iranian hegemony and nuclear blackmail. It was the apotheosis of appeasement. For the (alleged) foreign policy elites of Western capitals it was a way to achieve peace in our time (it didn’t). And for the Russians and the Chinese, it was a method to eventually do business with one of the world’s most evil regimes. In this week’s Action Update, we delve into the rapid series of recent events that helps put the future of any agreement – both its details and its prospects - into perspective.

Iran’s Demands

On Sunday, Tehran issued seven “preconditions” for reviving the JCPOA. These preconditions bring into stark relief two realities: the Iranians think the Biden administration will pursue a deal at any cost, and the Iranians are resolutely committed to terrorism, destruction of Israel, and regional hegemony. Summed up, the conditions are as follows (paraphrased for clarity):

  1. All original sanctions relief must be reinstated.
  2. There should be a discussion about compensating Iran for financial losses due to President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.
  3. Iran’s missile program, support for terrorism and appalling human rights abuses are not up for negotiation.
  4. No other countries, including those most effected by the deal (Gulf Arab states and, of course, Israel) can be included in the negotiations.
  5. Iran’s aggression against the rest of the Middle East is not up for negotiation.
  6. Again, no discussions of Iran’s missile program.
  7. Israel cannot exist. No two-state solution. Rather their must be a UN referendum on the future of all those living in the land found between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea.

So, in sum: pay the Iranians, let the Iranians do whatever/kill whomever they want, enable the regime to produce the means to deliver a nuclear weapon and then end Israel’s existence. At this point, we think it’s fair to say that despite the hopes of the aforementioned foreign policy elites, Iran has not moderated due to international engagement.

Biden’s People and Policy

During his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this month, President Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, reiterated that he would pursue a “longer and stronger” agreement with Tehran. This is good news as it implicitly acknowledges the failures of the previous deal which could mean that the Biden administration is not seeking to repeat the mistakes of the past. Moreover, in another nod to not making the same mistake twice, Blinken committed to communicating with the Arabs and Israelis about US discussions with Iran.

Conversely, press reports indicate that the President is considering Robert Malley to be the administration’s point man on Iran. It’s hard to overstate how bad Malley is for this position – if you intend to negotiate from a position of strength. To put it in perspective, a non-comprehensive CUFI Action Fund synopsis of Malley’s most egregious positions and appalling quotes, runs 9 pages and nearly 3,000 words long. We can’t include it all here, but to give you a taste of just how outside the bounds Malley’s positions are, consider the following:

As far back as 2001 Malley claimed, contrary to President Clinton’s own conclusion, that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was not responsible for failure to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians (spoiler alert: he was).

In 2008, Malley noted, “I have never hidden the fact that I had meetings with Hamas” (ICYMI: they’re designated terrorists).

In 2012, Malley was quoted as declaring, “Israelis, not for the first time, likely are exaggerating the Iranian threat and its imminence” (newsflash: they weren’t).

At a 2018 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Malley claimed, “So, this is not a comfortable situation, but it's the reality of Lebanon today that there is no politics without Hezbollah. There's no equilibrium or balance of stability without Hezbollah,” (sidenote: seeing a pattern here regarding terrorists).

In 2019 Malley described the Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran this way, “At every level it is illogical, counterproductive or useless” (fact check: totally false).

So in sum, he meets with terrorists, thinks we should accept terrorism as just the cost of doing business, doesn’t think economic sanctions against Iran are effective, and now, the Biden administration is considering making him the point man for negotiations with the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.

Illogical, counterproductive and useless are a rather good description of Malley’s contributions to American foreign policy in the Middle East. There may be a worse person for this job, but you would struggle to find them.

Listen to your friends

Israel and the Arab states are the ones most impacted by Iran’s actions. The Biden administration has signaled their intention to consult these countries on any future discussions with Iran. That is the right path. Malley’s appointment is the wrong path. It would undermine all the statements made by senior Biden officials, and the President himself, about the need for a longer and stronger agreement.

Through their actions, statements, and “pre-conditions” to negotiations, Iran has made clear that they remain committed to dominating the Middle East and destroying Israel. The President should nominate an envoy to handle Iran issues that does not hold Tehran’s tyrants in higher esteem than America’s allies.


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