Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy ( Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Jun. 21, 2019 2 min read

Iran and Saudi Arabia are—at present—comparably bad actors in the Middle East. We should not be goaded by the latter into doing its dirty work by attacking the former. Nor should we secretly help the latter start a nuclear program while abandoning a deal with Iran to stop theirs.

1/ U.S. foreign policy needs to be clear-eyed about the fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia are both regional dangers of their neighbors—and bad actors generally. We should be pushing for what UAE was claiming *it* wanted as recently as 2013: a permanently denuclearized Middle East.

2/ *Instead*, the Trump administration is fueling a Middle East nuclear arms race by helping Saudi Arabia—a bad actor and regional threat—build a nuclear program, while abandoning any hope of curtailing Iran's nuclear program by exiting a nuclear deal *that was provably working*.

3/ If Saudi Arabia's interest had been in keeping the Middle East denuclearized—rather than becoming a dangerous nuclear power itself—it (a) would not be seeking a nuclear program, and (b) would have passionately supported the imposition and maintenance of the Iran nuclear deal.

4/ Meanwhile, Israel has struck a devil's bargain with dangerous world leaders in Saudi Arabia (MBS) and the UAE (MBZ)—and Netanyahu has done so because MBS and MBZ have promised to table the Palestinian issue and work with Israel to destroy Iran, likely by military intervention.

5/ Netanyahu's plan is unbelievably short-sighted—because it will lead to failed and failing states across the region and immediately outside it (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan); autocrats through the region (MBS, MBZ, el-Sisi); and no peace in Gaza. That will not make Israel any safer.

6/ Netanyahu is *right* to seek an Arab-Israeli alliance and *right* to want Arab allies as interlocutors on Israel's behalf in peace negotiations in the West Bank/Gaza—but he is simply *not considering the long-term cost* of propping up dictators and creating failed Arab states.

7/ No one who's a Middle East expert favors Kushner's silly multinational, desalination plant-based scheme for peace in the West Bank/Gaza—nor does anyone think capitulating to Russian aggression in Europe and opposing democratic movements in Arab states brings regional security.

8/ The U.S. right now has a stupid, dangerous, anti-democratic, short-sighted foreign policy in the Middle East and Eastern Europe that's driven by venality and corruption and coddles dangerous actors around the world. It stands right now as a *great danger* to *global* security.

9/ What we need is for *all MBS contacts* to go through State, not Jared Kushner; *all MBZ's secret lobbying* to stop; *all secret contacts by Israel with Kushner* to stop; and for Kushner—whose incompetence and corruption is another global danger—to be fired from public service.

10/ Democrats should be speaking clearly—with one voice—to educate Americans on (a) what Trump's Middle East policy is; (b) the clandestine means (involving Russia, too) by which it was developed; and (c) how *alternative routes* substantially less dangerous must be pursued. /end

PS/ Nothing I've said in this thread is controversial or partisan to those who (a) know the history of Trump's policy development in the Middle East, (b) know the region and its dangers, and (c) know how well the Iran nuclear deal was working when Trump inexplicably exited it.

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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