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Obama’s Middle East Approach Favors Iran over Saudi Arabia

The notion that the Obama administration’s talking points increasingly sound like they are coming out of Tehran was further solidified this week, culminating with an op-ed published by Bloomberg confirming that the State Department acquiesced to Iran’s demand to reject new missile sanctions.

In their findings, which contain information from Hill staffers and a senior Obama administration official, Eli Lake and Josh Rogin discovered that a last-minute intervention by the State Department on Iran’s behalf has provided the theocratic Shiite regime with an astounding amount of leverage to prevent U.S. pushback on missiles. This could potentially push Saudi Arabia to place much-needed pressure on them in the absence of President Barack Obama’s influence.

Nothing in the deal would prevent the U.S. from sanctioning Iran for non-nuclear issues. Yet that has not been the case.

Last week, the Treasury Department stopped short of sanctioning 11 entities and individuals it deemed responsible for helping the Iranian government develop its ballistic missile program in violation of United Nations sanctions. Treasury officials had told lawmakers the new sanctions would be announced Dec. 30, but the announcement never came.

Hill staffers briefed on the issue said that the State Department had intervened at the last minute, following objections by the Iranian government.

Even greater cause for alarm is the impending release of frozen assets which would potentially give Iran access to tens of billions of dollars once they complete their obligations outlined in the deal. However, while Iran has begun to remove stocks of low-enriched uranium per the JCPOA, “it still hasn’t made all of the modifications to its nuclear reactor at Arak or completed other tasks it promised in the deal,” Bloomberg notes.

Lake and Rogin point out that the amount of leverage the Iranian regime has at the moment is extraordinary in international diplomacy, particularly at the expense of Saudi Arabia.

This shift was more prominently displayed last week when the U.S. State Department told Saudi Arabia that their execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr for “inciting terrorism” was “exacerbating sectarian tensions.” Lake and Rogin note this statement was followed up with a call from Secretary of State John Kerry to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “urging him to try to de-escalate the crisis.” Saudi Arabia reportedly felt the U.S. had gone too far this time.

Iran’s provocations throughout the region include the regime’s active engagement in attempts to destabilize the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been further amplified with the recent backlash over Nimr’s execution.

On Tuesday, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s senior foreign policy advisor, Victoria Coates, told Breitbart News that the Obama administration’s handling and approach towards Iran is deeply askew. “There appear to be absolutely no limits on the provocative and illegal Iranian behavior President Obama is tolerating,” Coates said. “Iran is clearly intent on pursuing aggressive weapons that will only further destabilize the region.” She added, “rather than focusing on spying on our closest allies like Israel, the Obama administration should focus on the actual threats we face–first and foremost the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, recently confirmed that Iran’s October 10 ballistic missile test was a “clear violation” of a 2010 U.N. Security Council resolution, which banned Iran from “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology.”

However, the White House insisted this missile launch was in no way linked to the nuclear deal with Iran and suggested that Iran continues to abide by its commitments. Critics of the White House have accused President Obama of backing down on his commitment to take action in the face of Iranian provocations.

A piece of legislation which Sen. Cruz will again present to Congress seeks to penalize anyone who violates the United Nations Security Council resolution, which is what the Iranians have done with their missile test.

Citing a quote she recently read in the American Interest, Coates told Breitbart News  that “by tilting towards Iran we have lost our leverage.”

Breitbart News also reached out to Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s press secretary Nick Merrill for comment on the recently declassified revelations but has yet to receive a response.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.

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