Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Iran and “Karine B”

by Elliott Abrams
March 6, 2014


The capture of a ship on its way to Gaza and carrying rockets supplied by Iran has made the news. The cargo includes dozens of M302 rockets with ranges of over 100 miles, which would bring most of Israel into range.

The incident is reminiscent of the capture a ship called the Karine A in January 2002, also carrying Iranian arms to Gaza. The recipient was Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, significant then because Arafat was at the time telling officials of the new Bush administration that he was committed to peace and had totally abandoned violence and terror. The key issue was the recipient, not the donor, and the incident helped the Bush administration make up its mind about Arafat–especially when he lied to U.S. officials about his own involvement. There is a direct line from the Karine A to Bush’s speech of June 24, 2002 breaking permanently with Arafat and telling Palestinians they would have American support for a state only when they had new leadership. Arafat had to go.

This time, in a kind of “Karine B” case, we have Iranian arms going to Gaza again, and it is a reminder that whatever peacemaking Secretary Kerry is undertaking with Palestinian authorities in Ramallah, Hamas remains in charge in Gaza and is dedicated to violence. But the larger issue this time is the donor rather than the recipient.

While we talk of outreach to Iran and unclenched fists, Iran continues to be the largest state sponsor of terrorism. During the nuclear negotiations the Obama administration seems to think it must be on its best behavior lest the regime in Tehran become offended and walk away from the table. So, the administration stops Congress from enacting additional sanctions–even sanctions never to be imposed unless negotiations fail. News reports say that there was administration pressure on Israel to stop its covert action program inside Iran. And we hear endless discussions of how Rouhani is a moderate and we have to help the moderates in their struggle against hard liners inside the regime.

But during this period, while the administration says we must carefully watch our conduct lest we offend Iran, Iran ships advanced missiles to Hamas in Gaza. Iran ships arms to opposition groups Bahrain. The regime in Iran continues a brutal campaign of repression at home. Whatever our approach, theirs is to use this period of negotiations to destabilize the entire region and crush all internal opposition.

It’s a reminder, once again, of just who is across the negotiating table. These are not “moderates,” in essence folks just like the EU and U.S. negotiators but dressed a bit oddly in our eyes. They are the representatives of a brutal regime and they take orders from its Supreme Leader. And while our representatives and his talk about how to achieve a balanced and fair deal, their government is bending every effort to creating chaos in the entire region.

Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by EMT

    Dear Mr. Abrams,
    Finally someone said the truth as it is. Obama pressed Israel to obey to his judgment like he was the king of the world. He forgot that the Israelis learned their lesson with blood and pain. Now Obama will again use his power wrongfully against AIPAC, just to cover up the true face of Iran. Now everyone can see who is telling us the truth. When I say that Obama is not telling the truth to the American people, some tell me that I’m wrong. I was not wrong for the elections – there was fraud; I’m not wrong when Obama does not say the truth. I’m not out to hurt the Democrats. Obama blocked AIPAC from lobbying to implement sanctions against Iran, infringing upon their first amendment rights. Thank you, Mr. Abrams.

  • Posted by Abraham

    Type your comment in here…all lies propaganda
    Every cruel lier and those who support its cruelty are doomed to anihiliation soon or late this goes right to every person or state or regime which build its power base on existance and blood of innocent usurped people This happens may be late but it happens

  • Posted by Lon W.

    It continues to baffle me. The ignorance (willful?) of Western diplomacy to neglect the study of the “religious” agenda adhered to by States following the tenets of the Sharia. According to this doctrine it is quite acceptable to lie. It furthers an ideology. It would do some of our politicians to simply “google”… al-taqqiyah.
    Sheesh. Even a political infant can do that.

  • Posted by Change Iran Now

    The West continues open up the bank accounts to hand over more frozen assets to the Iranian government without one political prisoner being released; without one halt in a public hanging; without one removal of Iranian Revolutionary Guard members fighting in Syria or training Hezbollah. The seizure of the arms shipment is a wake-up call for Washington. Unfortunately Obama and Kerry are too besotted with their hopes for détente with Iran to listen to reason.

  • Posted by EMT

    Obama is an Idealist the only way to change their diplomacy by vote.

  • Posted by ah

    Lon, the use of “Al-Taqqiyah” to justify calling in to question the motives or actions of negotiators/diplomats who are (Shia) Muslims is intentionally ridiculous. Even IF this were a legitimate argument (which it is not), it does not matter, because the negotiations specifically have processes through which any efforts undertaken by the Iranians to either progress or retrogress their nuclear programs are checked and verified.

    By this logic, we should not trust any Christians to work in our banks, because according to Jesus they are supposed to give all their money to the poor. A little more critical thinking in your flawed theological analysis would be suggested.

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