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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Obama wilting under heat from Netanyahu

The Washington Post's David Ignatius reports that President Obama has asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to cool the criticism of the P 5+1 deal with Iran.
A wild card in these negotiations is Israel. Obama has asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a breather from his clamorous criticism and send to Washington a team that can explore with U.S. officials a sound end-state strategy. Perhaps the United States and Israel need a back channel, outside the bombastic pressure campaign by Israeli advocates.
That team was already sent to the US earlier this week. The problem is that the Israelis don't trust Obama - and with good reason.  And we're not the only ones.
Israel is not the only country in the region seeking assurances on Iran.
Bahrain's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa has asked that the P5+1 states "clarify to the leaders and people of the region that the agreement that has been reached serves to achieve regional security stability."
Addressing the start of a regular meeting of Gulf Arab interior ministers in Bahrain, he said Gulf Arab states wanted to be certain that the accord "would not be at the expense of the security of any member of the (Gulf Cooperation) Council".
"It is not a secret that we in Bahrain have felt [threats that] affect our security, with all foreign-related links to that."
Bahrain, which hosts the US Fifth Fleet as a strategic bulwark against Iran across the Gulf, has suffered frequent unrest since 2011 when its Shi'ite Muslim majority took to the streets demanding reforms and a bigger say in government.
The Sunni Muslim monarchy in Bahrain and in neighboring Saudi Arabia have regularly accused Shi'ite Iran of fomenting the unrest. The Islamic Republic denies such accusations.
I don't believe they will ever reach a final agreement - at least not on terms that meaningfully restrict Iran. The only question in my mind is whether or not Iran will develop a weapon before the six months are up. 

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