The upcoming Geneva II conference on Syria is providing an interesting media opportunity to watch the western rush to court Iran as a potential partner in Middle East stabilization efforts.
In a New York Times op-ed titled ‘Obama’s Losing Bet on Iran,’ Michael Doran and Max Boot (who usually stars in less liberal media outlets) asserted that the Obama administration’s attempts to shift its foreign policy in Tehran’s favor was “breathtakingly ambitious” and “destined to fail.”
Meanwhile, David Keyes in The Daily Beast used even harsher language, saying “Iran, Putin and Assad” had “outwitted America.” which would henceforth be remembered for its “breathtaking naiveté” in letting “a brutal theocracy undermine Western interests throughout the Middle East” at a time when Tehran was at its weakest rather than its most powerful.
Alongside this scathing criticism, most media coverage of Iran this week took a less critical tone, focusing on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s tour – or “victory leap,” as Keyes termed it with more than a hint of sarcasm – of the region (and Russia).
On the fringes, Hillary Mann Leverett – pro-Tehran going back to the Ahmadinejad period – said in an interview with RT that Saudi Arabia and other “so-called” US allies were the ones preventing Iran from patching Syria up because “they don’t want Assad to be able to consolidate his authority in his country.”
So there you have it: as Geneva II nears, some news sources are keen to remind readers of the potential dangers of intentionally increasing Iran’s influence in Syria (and the Middle East at large), while others see it as the region’s panacea. Considering Iran’s track record on the Middle Eastern front, we know whose advice we would rather heed.