The New Year Brings More Geopolitical Madness The New Year begins with a race to see what world leader or country could make
the craziest geopolitical move to make the world a more dangerous place
for 2016. Obama lights a fuse blowing up his Iran deal at the last
minute with a new sanctions proposal, the Saudis execute the famous Shia
cleric Sheikh al-Nimr for his opposition heresy.
Mr. Erdogan tells the world that
“Turkey needs Israel” while his Foreign Minister Davutoglu justifies the
150 Turkish troops outside of Mosul as a blocking against ISIL
infiltration into Turkey. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Despite all the good news during
December on Iran being ahead of schedule for fulfilling its side of the
nuclear agreement, out of the blue came the White House announcement for
new sanctions. The only rationale seemed to be that a token response
over Tehran’s medium range missile test in December could head off
Republican sanctions with enough teeth in them to potentially wreck the
hard fought P5+1 deal.
But it was a crazy idea. When the
NeoCons were defeated on stopping the Iran deal, they started beating
their new Iran sanctions drum to milk media attention for the 2016
presidential race. Obama just could have shrugged the threat off with a
promise to veto any attempt as he did before. But somehow some terrible
staff work generated this idea that beating the Republicans to the punch
with White House sanctions would look more forceful.
It was a stupid idea, and the timing was
horrible. The Iranians had been working quickly to get all of their
mandated excess 3.5% reprocessed uranium out of the country before year
end, as a show of good faith. Russia took the whole load in a barter
deal for yellowcake. How the idiots in the Obama White House did not
expect the Iranians to look at this as a stab in the back is beyond me.
The IAEA had closed Iran’s military
nuclear portfolio with a unanimous vote, so there were no pending
investigative loose ends. Iran also has a large number of foreign trade
and investment deals all lined up to be signed as soon as the formality
of ending the UN sanctions is completed in January. These new US
sanctions were viewed in Iran as an extortion attempt to get some last
minute medium range missile concessions. This is what Iran always feared
the most, that the US would continue trying to renegotiate the deal via
petty compliance challenges.