Has anyone else noted the similarity in the weekend’s top two Middle East news stories – the telephone call between the Iranian and American presidents and the passage of U.N. Security Council Resoluton 2118 that calls for the “expeditious destruction” of Syrian chemical weapons? In both cases:
‐A long-ruling tyrant (Ali Khamenei, Bashar Assad) is reaching out to the West.
‐Those tyrants are furiously signaling an apparent reform (a smiling Hassan Rouhani, Assad acknowledging his chemical weapons and agreeing to turn them over).
‐“Who us, WMD?” they ask. “No interest at all in them.”
Count me skeptical. In part, I’ve learned over the decades that pessimism is good for one’s career as a Middle East analyst. In part, both the Iranian and Syrian governments have shown such dedication to their WMD buildups that it’s nearly inconceivable either will voluntarily undo them.
I just hope that the U.S. and other governments don’t fall prey to manipulations and delays. Given the occupant in the White House, however, that seems like a very probable outcome, especially in the Iranian case.