As Iran Steps Up Attacks On ISIS, US Remains Reluctant To Use Leverage

While U.S. officials contended there was no coordination between Washington and Tehran, the fact that Iran has launched airstrikes against ISIS reflects a willingness to openly engage in military operations. In turn, their actions have forced Washington to admit they and Iran are on the same side.

“The shift stems in part from Iran’s deepening military role in Iraq in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State. But it also reflects a profound shift in Iran’s strategy, a new effort to exert Shiite influence around the region and counter Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia. Analysts also say it follows a calculation that what Iran’s rulers see as a less-engaged United States will tolerate or even encourage their overt military activities,” reports The New York Times.

“I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIL in some particular place and it’s confined to taking on ISIL and it has an impact, it’s going to be – the net effect is positive,” Secretary of State John Kerry conceded Wednesday.

“A U.S. national security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strikes, by 1970s-era U.S.-made Phantom F-4 aircraft flown from Iranian bases, began about two weeks ago. The U.S. military stopped short of casting any judgement on the Iranian air raids, instead merely warning against inflaming sectarian tensions in Iraq,” Reuters reported.

The pseudo-détente between the longtime foes comes at a time when the Iranian economy is suffering from a decline in global oil prices, which is obviously to the benefit of the US, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The question some have raised is whether the Obama administration will use low oil prices to increase pressure on Iran concerning their nuclear weapons program.

In pursuit of its nuclear goals, Iran has sacrificed its economic future by adopting a position of noncompliance with international law, which has resulted in crippling sanctions.

Jonathan Tobin of Commentary magazine questions why, therefore, the Obama administration has not attempted to use the pressure that is building on Tehran due to oil prices to force it to give up its nuclear ambitions.

“The answer shows that President Obama clearly values his hopes for a new détente with Iran over the advantage that current economic conditions have handed him,” he writes.

Tobin continues: “Rather than use the oil weapon, President Obama appears content to allow Iran to keep talking while running out the clock on the West. As the talks continue with no sense of urgency on the part of the West, once again it’s hard to argue with the proposition that it is the economic basket case in Iran that is acting as if it is in charge and not the American superpower that has already discarded most of the leverage it already had over Iran in the vain pursuit of détente that its leaders scorn.”

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